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Animal Feed

Information about animal feed additives is provided.
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According to the European Commission’s commonly accepted definition, “feed additives are products used in animal nutrition for purposes of improving the quality of feed and the quality of food from animal origin, or to improve the animals’ performance and health, e.g., providing enhanced digestibility of the feed materials”. Thus feed additives includes substances, microorganisms, or preparations, which are intentionally added to feed or water in order to favorably affect the characteristics of feed, the characteristics of animal products, the animal production performance or welfare, the environmental consequences of animal production, and to satisfy the nutritional needs of the animal.
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There are five general types of food additives: Technological. Favorably affect the characteristics of feed, using preservatives, stabilizers, emulsifiers. Sensory. Stimulate animal appetite so that they naturally want to eat more, colorants, flavoring compounds. Nutritional. Provide a particular nutrient that may be deficient in an animal’s diet, vitamins or amino acids. Zootechnical. Improve the overall nutritional value of an animal’s diet, digestibility enhancers, probiotics, prebiotics. Coccidostats and histomonostats. Intended to kill or inhibit protozoa, microorganisms responsible for enteric diseases in poultry. Among them, zootechnical additives have gained a lot of attention as viable alternatives that could enhance the natural defense mechanism of the animal and reduce the massive use of antibiotics.
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In the past, antibiotics have been included in animal feed at subtherapeutic levels, acting as growth promoters. However, worldwide concern about development of antimicrobial resistance and about transference of antibiotic resistance from animal to human microbiota led to banning the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in the European Union since January 1, 2006. The removal of these compounds from animal diets has put tremendous pressure on the livestock and poultry farms. In fact, one of the main consequences is a substantial increase in the use of therapeutic antibiotics due to an augmented sensitivity to infections.
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Feed additives that favorably affect animal performance and welfare– particularly to the modulation of the gut microbiota which play a critical role in maintaining host health, are possible solutions in overcoming such problems.
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In this context, the probiotics and prebiotics could improve the resistance to pathogenic bacteria colonization and enhance host mucosa immunity. The more widely accepted definition of probiotic is “live microorganisms, e.g., bacteria– which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host”. A prebiotic is a non-digestible food ingredient that beneficially affects the host by selectively stimulating the growth and/or activity of one or a limited number of bacteria in the colon. In other words, they provide a substrate for beneficial gastrointestinal microbes. Several studies in farm health or stressed animals demonstrated the affects of these feed additives in pigs, poultry, and ruminants by improving the number of beneficial bacteria and the reduction of potential pathogen load.
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Moreover, probiotic treatments sometimes positively influence also the growth performance, promoting the feed efficiency of the animal. Feed additives may not be put on the market unless authorization has been given following a scientific evaluation, demonstrating that the food additive has no harmful effects on human and animal health, and on the environment. The Commission has established the European Union Register of Feed Additives, which is regularly updated. And it makes reference links to the relevant authorization Regulations. Those Regulations include the specific requirements for placing the additives on the EU market.
“Feed additives are products used in animal nutrition for purposes of improving the quality of feed and the quality of food from animal origin, or to improve the animals’ performance and health, e.g. providing enhanced digestibility of the feed materials”, according to the European Commission.
There are five general types of feed additives:
  1. Technological: favourably affect the characteristic of feed (e.g. preservatives, stabilisers, emulsifiers)
  2. Sensory: stimulate animal appetite so that they naturally want to eat more (e.g. colorants, flavouring compounds)
  3. Nutritional: provide a particular nutrient that may be deficient in an animal’s diet (e.g. vitamins, amino acids)
  4. Zootechnical: improve the overall nutritional value of an animal’s diet (e.g. digestibility enhancers, probiotics, prebiotics)
  5. Coccidiostats and Histomonostats: intended to kill or inhibit protozoa, micro-organisms responsible for enteric diseases in poultry.
Feed additives include substances, micro-organisms or preparations, which are intentionally added to feed or water in order to favorably affect the characteristics of feed; the characteristics of animal products; the animal production performance or welfare; the environmental consequences of animal production; and to satisfy the nutritional needs of animals.
Feed additives may not be put on the market unless authorisation has been given following a scientific evaluation demonstrating that the additive has no harmful effects on human and animal health and on the environment.
The Commission has established the European Union Register of Feed Additives, which is regularly updated, and it makes reference/links to the relevant authorisation Regulations.
Those Regulations include the specific requirements for placing the additives on the EU market.
Please watch the video presented above and share any thoughts that you have about animal feed or feed additives in the discussion area.
Remember that you can ask your Educators or Mentors if you have any questions during the course of the week.
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Farm to Fork: Sustainable Food Production in a Changing Environment

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