Today in the USA
Food safety focus after the bird flu spotlight
Solutions sought to US antibiotic ban
As the 2017 deadline for banning the use of sub therapeutic antibiotics looms large in the USA, large numbers of poultry farmers and integrators are trying to find the perfect solution for the future.
Some producers have already felt the first effects of the ban. Mike Donohue of Agri Stats, noticed a slight decrease in broiler production, which could be the result of antibiotic-free production. Due to consumer trends and retail customers requesting birds free of antibiotics, the industry is using fewer tools - and not gaining feed conversion.
However, the solution for the precursors and stragglers alike is not a simple one. There is not a single direct substitute for sub therapeutic antibiotics, including additives, management measures or veterinary solutions. The task of keeping broilers
healthy post the 2017 ban will encompass the entire supply chain, right from breeder flock and hatchery through to the broiler house. It will also cover all possible animal and farm management aspects.
Tightening food safety laws
New Federal regulations aimed at reducing the risk of salmonella and campylobacter in chicken products have been finalised by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
With an estimated 1,2-million foodborne illnesses believed to be as a result of salmonella, the new regulations will lead to approximately 50,000 less illnesses each year, according to the USDA and the Food Safety Inspection Service. The FSIS also said that its microbial testing schedule at poultry facilities would soon be updated, with results reported online.
“These new standards will help prevent tens of thousands of food-borne illnesses every year,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
A disinfected welcome
In a new twist to an old tradition, visitors to the recent IPPE in Atlanta in the USA were welcomed not by the traditional mat or red carpet but by disinfection mats and hand sanitisers. This unusual reception served to reinforce the challenges faced by the US poultry industry, ranging from the devastating AI outbreak through to an impending ban on the use of antibiotics.
Deboning stops at Wayne Farms
The USA’S sixth largest vertically integrated poultry producer will shut its deboning lines
at its Mississippi plant with the loss of 500 jobs. A Wayne Farms spokesperson said the company’s other ten plants in the southern USA will remain operational, including the recently expanded fresh processing facility in Alabama.
Nomad lists on NYSE
Nomad Foods, producers of the Birds Eye, Iglo and Findus brands of frozen foods, has listed on the New York Stock Exchange. It was previously traded on the London Stock Exchange. The company believes that its strategic vision for long-term growth will generate significant value for shareholders as it builds a “best in class global consumer foods company.”
Anger over US culling method
Animal rights groups in the USA have severely criticised the USDA for using ventilation shutdown to cull some of the more than 400,000 birds affected by an outbreak of the highly pathogenic H7N8 AI virus on a turkey farm in southern Indiana.
The practice, which causes birds to die slowly from suffocation or organ failure due to overheating, can take up to 45 minutes, something which Peter Stevenson of Compassion in World Farming, says is “shocking”. He says that by using ventilation shutdown, the US government is in breach of the OIE’S disease control standards.
“We’ve advocated the use of 98% nitrogen, packed in high expansion foam to cull poultry,” says Stevenson. “This is fundamentally different from low expansion firefighting foam that blocks the birds’ airways, thereby killing them through suffocation.”
“There are more humane ways to mass euthanise poultry than intentionally causing heatstroke, which is a horrible way to die,” said Michael Blackwell of the Humane Society of the USA. “Ventilation shutdown should only be considered as an absolute last resort.”¡