Wednesday, 19 February 2014

They Did What???

I hate writing about this.  It might well offer an explanation about how a virus that's proven deadly to young pigs (no risk to people or other livestock) was found on  PEI, and a handful of other hog operations in Ontario and Manitoba, but, if true, raises many many questions.

There's some evidence that a pelletized feed produced by a company based in Cambridge Ontario called Grand Valley Fortifiers (GVF) is partly, wholly, responsible for the spread of PED.  Like human flu, it can spread through mishandling of swine manure, but the possibility of weiner feed being the source is gaining credibility. It turns out the feed for young pigs includes refined blood plasma from other pigs. Here's how an industry publication described it after GVF recalled its feed a week ago. "Grand Valley Fortifiers said it made its decision based on a statement from Steve Dritz of Kansas State University, which said "The magnitude of risk that swine feed can be a potential vector for porcine epidemic diarrhea virus transmission is currently unknown. However, the Kansas State University Swine Nutrition team believes at this time it is prudent for pig producers be knowledgeable of feed ingredients that are in their swine rations. Also, the K-State team has provided example nursery diet options without porcine origin ingredients. These options range from removal of all porcine origin feed ingredients to removal of specific protein based ingredients from nursery diets."   Some of the farms in Ontario, and the farm here on PEI were using this feed which has now been recalled.  The CFIA is investigating and says it will have results in a few days.

It's the "without porcine ingredients" that gets me.  Now unlike cattle, pigs are omnivores, but that doesn't mean they're cannibals.  Cattle have multiple stomachs and were designed to eat grasses, and that's why the feeding of cattle/sheep bi-products and the resulting risk of mad-cow disease was so unnatural, and eventually outlawed. Pigs will eat almost anything, but the idea that using the blood bi-products of dead pigs as a good source of protein seems bizarre. And of course GVF is saying it bought the blood bi-products from another company (reputable it says), and that's it's now removed "porcine ingredients" from its feed. Thanks for that.

As consumers we demand cheap meat.  Smart people work away at finding ways to lower costs to supply this, and I guess that blood plasma was just going to go to the dump anyway (could have been used in compost at least), so what the heck.  Well if "porcine ingredients" is a vector for the virus, then we all lose. As millions of wieners died  in the United States the price of pork has shot up, so maybe this wasn't such a good trade off after all. Maybe it was just stupid.

Here's what the CFIA is saying:

CFIA Statement on Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus in Feed - Animals

February 18, 2014: The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is conducting science-based testing to determine if feed may be a contributing factor in the current Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) situation.
PED poses no risk to human health or food safety.
Proper biosecurity measures remain the first and best line of defense for pork producers to protect against PED.
As a precautionary measure, on February 9, 2014, Grand Valley Fortifiers issued a voluntary recall for certain pelleted swine nursery feed products containing porcine plasma.
Testing has determined that PED virus was present in samples of US-origin plasma obtained at the third-party manufacturer for Grand Valley Fortifiers. This plasma was used as an ingredient in feed pellets produced by the company. Testing with a swine bioassay has determined that the plasma ingredient contains PED virus capable of causing disease in pigs.
Further testing will be done to assess if the feed pellets are capable of causing disease in piglets, and results are expected within days. Testing will continue to confirm a direct link between the feed and the spread of the disease, as the virus is only confirmed in a single ingredient at this time.
The CFIA is working closely with the company to confirm the effectiveness of the recall, and is closely examining company records to see where potentially affected product was distributed.
The CFIA is also reviewing records of other imports of swine plasma and will work with the Council of Chief Veterinary Officers and the pork industry in Canada to proactively manage the possible risk of transmission through feed.
As the investigation continues, additional actions such as recalls may be necessary to minimize the potential that feed could contribute to the transmission of this disease in Canada.
Date modified:

No comments:

Post a Comment