Certification program fine tunes feed manufacturing processes
MFA feed facilities are being recognized for the consistent, safe feed they deliver. One by one, MFA feed mills are achieving Safe Feed/Safe Food certification, a national quality and process standard.
Safe Feed/Safe Food is recognized across the country as a top standard for the feed industry. In some ways it’s similar to ISO certifications, which you’ve probably seen stamped on products or service vehicles. In the case of ISO, those numbers mean that a company has met and can verify that it has met a series of process quality benchmarks as set by the International Organization for Standardization. There are ISO certifications for various industries, including parts of agriculture.
The Safe Feed/Safe Food program is an approach to manufacturing and delivering feed that is similar to the ISO system in the sense that it lays out standardized procedures for the manufacture of feed from the ingredient stage to the safe transport, delivery and storage of the finished product.
MFA’s feed mill at Gerald, Mo., was the cooperative’s first Safe Feed/Safe Food certified facility. Earning the right to display the Safe Feed/Safe Food seal means devoting time and resources to developing a detailed plan of action, fulfilling specific requirements and demonstrating the ways in which facilities exceed industry standards. The processes include modern critical control point risk-management standards.
“Much of what Safe Feed/Safe Food certification requires are things that MFA feed mills were already doing,” said Tom Staudt, MFA director of feed manufacturing. “To get the Safe Feed/Safe Food certification, you need to meet certain criteria with the equipment you use to make feed, the practices and management you use to make feed and with training the employees who make feed. As licensed mills, we already have a set of standard good management practices, which cover a lot of Safe Feed/Safe Food requirements, but we always want to improve. Our goal is to develop protocol that makes us more efficient and helps us deliver high quality, safe feed to our customers.”
There is a strong trend for more societal scrutiny on food safety. And for the livestock industry’s contribution to the food supply, feed production and consumption can be a major factor in food safety. From regulators to consumers, people want to know what is in their livestock feed and where the constituent ingredients came from. Whether meeting high quality standards to deliver a premium product or simply tracking feedstuffs inventory, traceability is a huge concern both with governmental regulatory agencies as well as private enterprise. Safe Feed/Safe Food provides reliable traceability of feed and feed ingredients all the way through the manufacturing chain.
The program certifies facilities that produce feed, not the feed itself. It’s administered by The American Feed Industry Association, a century-old organization made up of members from across the spectrum of feed manufacturing. However, Safe Feed/Safe Food facilities are inspected by the Facility Certification Institute, an independent third party. And once certified, facilities are subject to ongoing inspections and audits to ensure they consistently comply with Safe Feed/Safe Food standards.
“The feed industry, like most others, has been subject to increases in regulatory oversight,” said MFA Feed division vice president Dr. Alan Wessler. “Some regulations come as reaction to events that our industry has no control over, but as feed manufacturers, we want to be in the lead when it comes to product safety. Safe Feed/Safe Food gives us the opportunity to bring third-party inspectors to MFA locations to certify we’re meeting a set of stringent process standards. It allows companies like MFA an opportunity to lead with what we are already doing. We’ve made it our culture to continually improve our manufacturing process. Safe Feed/Safe Food allows us to move up one more notch and be recognized for our efforts.”
Because the Safe Feed/Safe Food program exceeds industry regulatory requirements and employs a modern risk-assessment approach, it has been embraced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Facilities that carry the Safe Feed/Safe Food seal are inspected every two years and audited annually by the Facility Certification Institute, which is more frequent than traditional official visits from FDA.