Organic acid-based products can fulfill the needs of feed producers after formaldehyde ban

29 January 2018

Formaldehyde was denied authorization in the EU due to health and safety reasons, leading to its ban in the near future. Alternative strategies to control Salmonella in feed are needed.

Formaldehyde, a leading compound used to increase the hygiene of feed and feed materials, was recently denied authorization in the EU due to health and safety reasons. During the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (SCOPAFF) meeting last December, 26 countries voted against the authorization of the compound as a feed additive in Europe. This means that formaldehyde will be banned for its use as a hygiene condition enhancer shortly.

The basis for the ban is a health and safety problem for animals and humans, including carcinogenic effects. In animals, there are safety concerns about reproduction in target species; while in humans there are issues after exposure, affecting skin, eyes and the respiratory system. However, formaldehyde is heavily used in the industry as a feed hygiene agent, which implies that feed producers are facing now the need for alternatives to fulfill the same purpose.

Organic acids are an effective alternative, with extra benefits for animal health

Fortunately, organic acids have also a proven track record in improving the microbiological quality of feed and food. “Organic acids are used in feed materials and final feeds, to prevent post-harvest mold growth and subsequent mycotoxin production, and to reduce the carriage of foodborne pathogens” said Bart D’heer, Salmonella Control programme manager at Trouw Nutrition. “In addition, organic acids have positive physiological effects in the entire gastrointestinal tract. In that way they can prevent the transmission of foodborne pathogens from feed to food and optimize animal performance, especially in antibiotic-free environments”, he added.

When looking for alternatives to formaldehyde, formic acid-based products are the best option, assured the Salmonella control expert. They work mainly against yeasts and gram- negative bacteria, by lowering the pH and blocking the enzymatic processes of the bacterial metabolism. A very interesting fact to highlight is that last year, formic acid was approved by the EU as feed hygiene enhancer. D’heer also described that the combination of products, services and knowledge are key to improve the application of products.  

Products like Fysal Feed, from Trouw Nutrition, are available in the market to support feed producers to manage feed hygiene. “The key for the success of any Salmonella Control programme is to have an integrated approach. The combination of a premium product with analytical, technical and management services, including dosing equipment, makes a difference in the results. This approach has proved to be an effective alternative in optimizing feed hygiene”, concluded D’heer.