The Beauty of the Blend: How organic acids support feed safety and shelf life
Meeting the world's demand for more animal protein isn't about simply producing more food but should also include reducing waste and maintaining the nutritional value of feed. Today, one-third of food is wasted between field and fork, and this waste represents $1T USD. Collaboration is essential for farmers, feed mills and retailers to safely and sustainably feed the future. Those working in feed production have an important role to play in safely feeding the world.
Safety will always be the top priority for stakeholders across the global food chain. As the world's population is projected to reach 10B people by mid-century, consumption of animal products is expected to increase by 60%.The production of safe animal feed is a prerequisite for meeting the world's growing demand for animal protein and effectively feeding the future.
Animal feed represents the largest financial input in livestock production. Assuring the safety of this investment is essential for producing safe food, contributing to efficient livestock production and supporting producer economics. In today's production environment several factors ranging from extreme weather incidents to supply chain disruptions and trade constraints threaten feed safety and bring added complexity to quality assurance efforts. Safety must be managed in context with these challenges at every step in the supply chain.
Reducing waste and safeguarding nutrients
Improving the safety, stability and shelf life of animal feed is an ongoing process and research continues to identify opportunities to achieve higher levels of performance from existing inputs. Reducing waste can help support better feed production efficiencies and defend against the loss of valuable nutrients in feed.
As fungi and yeast contribute to spoilage and nutrient loss, these contaminants are responsible for an immense amount of loss every year. Without adequate safeguards in place, moulds and yeasts and other microorganisms can assimilate and utilize the most readily available nutrients in feed materials. As harmful microbes proliferate, spoilage can dramatically reduce the amount of nutrients in feed. The rate of spoilage may range from a reduction in nutrients of 5% to extreme cases where a feed's nutritional value is completely diminished. Moulds and yeasts in feed and raw materials disproportionately utilize some micronutrients that are essential for animal performance, such as thiamine and lysine. As nutrients in feed are consumed, the nutritional balance of feed may be compromised and the value of the producer's investment can be depleted (Table 1).
Despite these persistent challenges, there are trusted solutions to help manage microbial threats before, during and after feed production. Organic acids deliver a preservative benefit to feed and raw materials as they protect against harmful bacteria and fungi. But while organic acids are a tool widely used to help protect the safety and quality of feed and raw materials, it is important to consider the behavior and mode of action they exert when combined in a feed safety solution. Because different organic acids have different properties, they deliver variable effects against species of moulds, and they offer different metabolic and absorption properties. Due to the variety of different properties individual organic acids offer and different strengths of acidity per the pKa (Table 2), a blend is necessary to ensure a broad-spectrum effect against various species of moulds and yeasts.
Feed mill safety measures
The extreme thermal conditions that occur during animal feed production can also play a role in supporting feed safety. Animal feeds frequently contain thermal conditioning and steam to reduce microbial contamination in feed ingredients. However, pelleting on its own may not be an effective mechanism for killing mould spores. And because moulds are ubiquitous, the risk they pose is not limited to the production facility. Mould contamination can arise during transport of finished feed or while feed is in storage.
As noted above, various organic acids deliver specific effects when it comes to reducing the microbial load in feed and feed ingredients. Different organic acids also support the sustained efficacy of feed safety interventions following feed production. The complexity of this situation means that no individual organic acid treatment will provide the desired effect. Instead, Fylax Forte-HC, a potent blend of buffered and non-buffered organic acids, has demonstrated good results by combining different organic acids with phytochemicals and moisture management agents to create a potent solution that delivers sustained feed safety benefits.
Buffering organic acids to complement their unique properties allows for a feed safety solution to penetrate deeper into feed particles. This means more of the solution is absorbed into the feed and less is lost to evaporation. Buffering ingredients also helps the product deliver a long-term effect and reduces the risk that final feed will be recontaminated during storage, transport and handling processes.
Applying Fylax Forte-HC helps achieve a synergistic effect. This design also helps the solution to penetrate the mould spores which can render them ineffective in contaminating feed. Beyond avoiding the concerns for human and animal health posed by end-of-pipe solutions such as formaldehyde (prohibited in many production regions), Fylax Forte-HC has demonstrated prolonged availability in feed. The longevity effect helps protect against recontamination of moulds in both raw ingredients and finished feed (figure 1).
Even the most effective feed safety solution will not deliver desired results if it is not properly dosed. Uniform mixing and application are required to support effective mould control and shelflife longevity. Selko is bringing a higher level of control to support dosing decisions and proper application. Dedicated dosing equipment supports precise application. Selko provides an array of dosing solutions customized to fulfil specific customer needs. The state-of-the-art equipment is designed to complement the stages and processes used in animal feed production can ensure even application and thorough distribution of the solution throughout the feed.
Feeding the future
As stakeholders strive to meet growing demand for safe, sustainable animal protein, there is an opportunity for collaboration across the food chain and ongoing innovation. Research continues to show how an understanding of organic acids and their synergies can support the safety of animal feed for multiple species in diverse production environments. Through collaboration and investments in research, the feed sector can play a vital role in feeding the future.
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Article made possible through the contribution of Trouw Nutrition