Feed mills face food safety deadlines

Centerra Jefferson
Centerra feed mill in Jefferson, Ohio. (Photo courtesy of Justin Dennis/Ashtabula Star Beacon

SALEM, Ohio — Almost everyone knows that the federal food safety law known as the Food Safety Modernization Act applies to human food.

What you may not know is that it also applies to livestock and even pet feed.

The law requires feed mills and companies that produce animal feed to comply with certain Good Manufacturing Practices, and to establish an approved system of hazard and risk-based preventive controls.

Companies have a range of compliance dates, depending on their size. The largest companies were required to follow Good Manufacturing Practices last September and are technically required to meet quality control requirements this September, although inspections won’t begin until September 2018.

Small businesses — those with less than 500 full-time employees — need to have Good Manufacturing Practices in place this September, and preventive controls in place by next September.

The effect

The rules have been forthcoming for roughly the past six years, but their impact on the industry and on local feed mills is uncertain.

Richard Sellers, vice president of public policy and education for the American Feed Industry Association, said the trade organization supported the Food Safety Modernization Act, known as FSMA, and its rule-making process in the beginning.

But Sellers said after the rule affecting feed mills was released in 2015, it became clear that it could hurt the feed mill industry.

“We supported the law in a big way. We felt it was needed,” he said. “But we didn’t know they would go this far.”

The cost to comply varies from feed mill to feed mill, but if a new staff member has to be hired, Sellers said that could cost the mill an additional $60,000 or more.

Larger mills are more likely to already have quality control staff on hand, while smaller mills may need to train or hire additional staff.

In July, the Centerra Co-op, located in northeastern and north central Ohio, decided to close its Jefferson feed mill in part because of the costs associated with the new FSMA rules.

Making adjustments

Farm and Dairy contacted a half-dozen feed mills in our readership area, but only one returned our calls.

Samantha Johnson, the quality assurance manager for Witmer’s Feed and Grain, said the company did not need to hire outside help to meet the new law, because she had been re-assigned to that position about seven years ago.

She completed additional training in the past year, including the Safe Feed/Safe Food Certification offered by AFIA.

Johnson said a big thing is traceability — making sure the mill can track one step backward, where feed ingredients came from, and one step forward, or the customers buying the ingredients.

She said the new rules created additional paperwork, and the need for good documentation.

“If you don’t document it, it’s like you didn’t do it,” she said.

She said the new rule allows the Food and Drug Administration to shut down feed mills if the federal agency feels the mill isn’t FSMA-compliant, and to force mandatory recalls that were previously only requested recalls.

Witmer’s operates a feed manufacturing facility in Columbiana, Ohio, and has stores in Garfield-Salem, and Berlin, Pennsylvania.

The need to get mill operators trained prompted the Ohio AgriBusiness Association and AFIA to offer a special training session Sept. 26-28 in Plain City, Ohio. The training will focus on preventive controls and compliance with the new FSMA rules.

Penn State will offer a similar training event Sept. 18-20, at the Extension office in Mercer.

Getting trained

Sellers said AFIA has been trying to get the industry trained, while also lobbying federal leaders about the industry’s concerns. He’s concerned about the cost burden, especially to smaller businesses, and about the upcoming compliance deadlines.

“It’s an overbearing food rule and it really doesn’t apply well to our animal food industry, except maybe pet food,” he said.

He hopes AFIA can be part of the “regulation revolution” that’s been going on with the new administration, but he said it will take time.

Training event details:

Two local training sessions are being planned to help companies meet the required Good Manufacturing Practices, and to implement the required quality controls.

• Penn State Extension is offering a workshop Sept. 18-20 at the Penn State Extension Office in Mercer, PA.  Details can be found at: http://extension.psu.edu/animal-pc.

• The Ohio session will be held Sept. 26-28, at Der Dutchman Restaurant in Plain City, Ohio, and is being organized by the Ohio AgriBusiness Association, and the American Feed Industry Association.

Registration for the Ohio event is $700 per participant, with a limit of 60 participants. For complete event details or to register, visit oaba.net/events or contact Janice Welsheimer at 614­-326­-7520, or email jwelsheimer@oaba.net. The registration deadline is Sept. 6.



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Chris Kick served Farm and Dairy's readership as a reporter for nearly a decade before accepting a job at Iowa State University Extension. An American FFA Degree recipient, he holds a bachelor’s in creative writing from Ashland University.



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