Representatives of the American Feed Industry Association and FEFANA, the Feed Additives and Premixtures Association of the European Union, recently signed an agreement that will permit auditors of AFIA's third-party certification program, Safe Feed/Safe Food, to inspect U.S. manufacturers for compliance with European feed hygiene and ingredient standards.

The agreement will facilitate U.S. trade with European feed and ingredient customers.

The agreement was signed during the joint International Feed Expo-International Poultry Expo in Atlanta, Ga., in January.

“Our members tell us Europe remains a top destination for U.S. feed and feed ingredients,” said Joel G. Newman, AFIA president and chief executive officer. “Since the EU arguably has the most stringent feed regulatory program with the implementation of HACCP, we feel it is best to design a program for members that provides access to 27 member-states as a first step in our international Safe Feed/Safe Food Certification Program efforts.”

Specifically, the agreement will allow the European Feed Additives and Premixtures-Quality System, or FAMI-QS, which is FEFANA's version of AFIA's SF/SF program, to train Facility Certification Institute auditors, per FAMI-QS requirements. AFIA agreed to grant reciprocity for firms in FAMI-QS since the program has the same components of the SF/SF program. The key difference between the AFIA and FEFANA programs is FAMI-QS recognition of EU Regulation (EC) 183/2005, which requires Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points principles be implemented in feed and feed ingredient facilities.

FEFANA submitted a Guide to Good Practice in accordance with Regulation (EC) 183/2005, and the European Commission recognizes these good practices for the industry. The guide illustrates how the industry may comply with the feed hygiene regulation. Importantly, AFIA's agreement will enable FCI auditors to verify compliance with the EU regulation. This is important since neither the Food and Drug Administration, nor the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will certify compliance with a program those government bodies deem quality-based. In fact, no government body will inspect and verify a firm's compliance with this regulation, leaving exporters to rely on valid third-party certification systems.

“We want a strong alliance for our members, and we believe the best method to help validate compliance with EU regulations is to work with a partner organization that already has a Guide to Good Practice that is recognized by the European Commission,” said Newman.

Additionally, this new agreement has the potential to affect both U.S. importers and exporters of feeds and feed ingredients in two ways: First, it offers a tool for validating EU regulatory compliance for exporters; second, under the U.S. government's Food Protection Plan, firms importing under recognized third-party certification systems will be prioritized for incoming inspections based on a risk-ranking approach.

AFIA has cooperated with FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine to further the process of obtaining formal recognition of SF/SF as a risk-ranking certification program in the Animal Feed Safety System and under the Food Protection Plan that was assembled by President George W. Bush via Executive Order in the summer of 2007. Therefore, SF/SF reciprocity with FAMI-QS has the potential to benefit importers.

AFIA and FEFANA representatives currently are in the midst of planning the logistics of training FCI auditors to inspect U.S. firms based on FAMI-QS requirements. AFIA hopes to have the program accepting applications by late summer of 2009.