Finally, I pledge we will live up to our “Four Promises” to AFIA members. AFIA will (1) serve as the voice of the total feed industry, (2) provide leadership in the legislative and regulatory arenas, (3) stand ready with confidential expertise as needed, and (4) offer unparalleled member services.
Joel G. Newman is president and CEO of the American Feed Industry Association
Growth a sign of Safe Feed/Safe Food Certification Program
By Keith Epperson and Anne Keller
The American Feed Industry Association launched the Safe Feed/Safe Food Certification Program five years ago to foster the use of the highest safety standards by feed mills and other facilities involved in the manufacture of livestock feed, pet food and related ingredients.
Today the number of facilities in the United States and Canada that are certified by the program is nearing 400, and these facilities represent about 90 companies. We also are pleased with the number of facilities expected to become certified in the next few months. Keep an eye on the program website at www.safefeedsafefood.org to learn when plants receive certification and review other news and information.
A high point for the program in the last year was the endorsement by the Pork Safety Committee of the National Pork Board. This show of support for the program by a key committee of the National Pork Board is most welcome, as it validates the benefits the program has to offer participants and their customers.
The program also continues to receive positive public comments from officials associated with the Food and Drug Administration. Among them, Dr. Dan McChesney, the director of the office of surveillance in the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, spoke positively of the program’s concepts back in the spring, saying the independent program “surely addresses a lot of the attributes of a proper third-party certification program.” And Dr. Stephen Sundlof, a former director of the agency’s CVM, has said the program is ahead of the curve.
Background and benefits
If you are unfamiliar with the Safe Feed/Safe Food Certification Program, you may wonder why so many facilities are certified, why FDA experts are supportive of it, and what certification entails.
The Safe Feed/Safe Food program provides companies and facilities with a relatively straight-forward challenge: If a facility proves to an outside, independent, third-party auditor that it meets or exceeds a series of strict, safety-focused standards set forth in the program, the plant will earn the right to be certified as a program participant. With this achievement comes the ability to promote to customers and others that the facility is a Safe Feed/Safe Food-certified plant.
The program promotes standards that meet or exceed all regulatory standards for the industry, but it also is a comprehensive HAACP-based safety standards program for feed manufacturers and their suppliers and customers.
Joining the exclusive group of certified facilities takes time and effort on the part of a team of individuals at each plant. A well-trained group of employees who complement each other’s efforts is a hallmark of each certified facility.
AFIA staff members regularly receive reports from managers of certified plants that they are pleased to discover the extent to which certification leads to a substantial reduction in shrink and increases overall plant efficiency. Some certified plants are known to receive direct financial benefits in the form of lowered product-liability insurance premiums. And when customers ask whether a plant is Safe Feed/Safe Food-certified because it gives them greater peace of mind, the reason to become involved in the program is even clearer.
International version nearing launch
The existing program is running well, so much so that an international version of the program will launch in the near future. AFIA in early 2009 formed an alliance with the EU Feed Additives and Premixtures Association, also known as FEFANA, to accomplish this mutually beneficial objective. Since then, auditors affiliated with the Facility Certification Institute have received training from FEFANA representatives about how to conduct audits of U.S. facilities to meet the European Commission’s Feed Hygiene Rule. Additional details are being finalized as of this writing in November.