Dairy company Campina will require its member farmers to use a higher quality of feed for their cattle than is currently required in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, reports Ahmed ElAmin.
The new requirements are part Campina's plan to prevent contaminants from being fed to dairy cattle. Last year dioxin-contaminated animal feeds entered the food chain in the Netherlands, leading to a problem with the raw-milk supply.
Campina also hopes the new feed standards will anticipate proposed new EU legislation for the dairy industry.
"Sharper requirements for cattle feed companies are intended to give Campina's member-farmers maximum protection and help to prevent disasters in the dairy sector," the company said.
Campina, a dairy co-operative based in the Netherlands, said it will require all member-farmers in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany to operate under the new requirements, thus integrating their standards for feed purchases. Dairy farmers in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany currently operate under separate national quality assurance schemes.
Farmers in the Netherlands currently operate under the Quality Milk Chain quality system. In Belgium they operate under the Integrated Quality Care for Milk system and in Germany under the Milk Quality Management System (QMMilch). As the third largest dairy co-operative in Europe, Campina was involved in the setting of those standards.
Campina will implement the new standard, known as 'TrusQ', in the Netherlands first and then expand it to Belgium and Germany. The development of the new standards has already begun.
"In due course, the intention is that all Campina member-farmers will buy cattle feed only from companies that comply with higher quality assurances than are required at present,"the company said in a statement.
Other standards under the TrusQ system set out requirements on the care for animals, the maintenance of milking machines and milk cooling tanks, water and feed. Talks will be held with memberfarmers on the new standards at the end of the summer after the trial phase of the project is over.
'The dairy sector is internationalising, and that means that as one of Europe's leading dairy companies, we need a quality system that can follow that trend and strengthen our marketposition," said Campina's chief executive Justinus Sanders.
The European Commission is currently working to amalgamate all of the EU's food hygiene legislation ,which currently consists of a number of product-specific directives. The directives cover products of animal origin, including meat, milk and milk products, fish and shellfish, shell eggs and egg products.
The directives cover products through the food chain up to, but not including, retail and catering. There is also a general food hygienedirective which covers the remaining food products not of animal origin, and the retail and catering sectors generally.
The feed policy is part of Campina's strategy to boost exports of more of its products. Campina said it plans to achieve above average growth in dairy drinks and desserts market in Europe. It also plans to become a leader for specific dairy ingredients for the food and pharmaceutical industries.
In August 2004 dioxin was detected in the Netherlands in potato skins fed to dairy cattle. Increased levels of dioxin then began showing up milk and eventually 160 Dutch farms were closed down. Thepotato waste had also been exported to eight Belgian and three German farms, which were placed under restrictions.
In June 1999 dioxin was discovered in Belgian animal feed used to supply the Belgian, French and Dutch markets. The feed had been enriched with old used engine oil with a high level of dioxin. Hens, pigs and cattle ate the contaminated feed and high levels of dioxin were found in meat products as well as eggs.