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Food Quality and Safety in Europe



Twenty years after it first appeared, mad cow disease no longer threatens livestock to the degree it once did. Nowadays, the BSE epidemic scare has become less dramatic. There has been a clear improvement in the situation in recent years, with a significant decrease (35% since 2002) in the number of cases of the disease across the EU. The European Commission is therefore considering the amendment of certain measures, provided that this positive trend continues and the necessary conditions are met. To this end, SAFEED-PAP aims to improve the quality checks for all kinds of compound feed.


In order to fulfil the scientific conditions defined by the European Commission, analytical methods for the detection of species-specific animal proteins in animal feed are being developed and validated. Four main research methodologies are being applied: classical microscopy, polymerase chain reaction, immunoassay techniques and near infrared microscopy.

The SAFEED-PAP project strives for optimal control of feed production and use. One of its aims is to produce suitable and cost-effective methods for screening for the presence of species-specific animal ingredients in feed available on the market. Thereby, a rapid screening technique for the detection of illicit ruminant by-products with the use of an improved and validated test kit will be at the disposal of the industry. Another kit, based on the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) technique is being developed, to provide a method for identifying species-specific DNA.

By developing new methods, the project aims to lower the tremendous costs associated with the spread of animal epidemics.


The feed ingredients and compound feeds may become contaminated by rodents and other wild animals. The lack of a method of assessing the cause of contamination, however, has resulted in drastic costs for the industry over the last five years. Notification of positive results on bone fragments in a variety of feed materials in 2004 and 2005 led to major recall actions of feed materials. At the beginning of 2005, the European Feed Manufacturers' Federation (FEFAC) reported economic damage in excess of EUR 35 million related to recall actions linked to positive bone findings, following the introduction of the extended feed ban in January 2001.

SAFEED-PAP, therefore, addresses some of the remaining gaps that currently prevent proper control of the extended feed ban and of future bans. A study has been launched to determine the key parameters for the production of certified reference material (CRM) that will be helpful in the implementation of the actual and forthcoming methods in control labs.

Ultimately, the project seeks to improve both feed quality and safety, thus resulting in better consumer protection, while at the same time reducing the financial burden on the meat industry. Doctor David A. Kessler, a former United States Food & Drug Administration Commissioner once said, "The history of government regulation of food safety is one of government watchdogs chasing the horse after it's out of the barn." Following the BSE epidemic in the EU, it seems that lessons have been learned, and that this time the barn doors will only be opened when quality and safety checks have been thoroughly implemented.

List of Partners

  • Walloon Agriculture Research Centre (Belgium)
  • Veterinary Laboratories Agency (UK)
  • University of Córdoba (Spain)
  • Institute of Food Safety (The Netherlands)
  • IRMM-JRC - European Commission (Belgium)
  • The Danish Plant Directorate (Denmark)
  • Central Science Laboratory (UK)
  • Federal Laboratory for the Safety of Food - Federal Agency for the Safety of Food Chain (Belgium)
  • National Veterinary Laboratory (Lithuania)
  • University of Milan, Department of Veterinary Science Technology for Food Safety (Italy)
  • CCL Research (The Netherlands)
  • Diagenode (Belgium)
  • China Animal Health and Epidemiology Centre (China)
Full title:
Edetection of presence of species-specific processed animal proteins in animal feed
Contract n°:
Project co-ordinator:
Vincent Baeten, Walloon Agriculture Research Centre,
EC Scientific Officer:
Hallgeir Herikstad,
EU contribution:
€ 1.7M
Specific Targeted Research Project

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Last update: 06 December 2007 | Top