February 22, 2019
Adopting a scientific and customer approach to its probiotic solutions: Evonik
Evonik Animal Nutrition has a clear mission: Using science to improve sustainability, health and efficiency along the food chain to feed the world's growing population with animal protein for generations to come. With the global trend towards antibiotic reduction or elimination in the food chain, an important aspect of this mission is to help producers cope with this challenging transition phase.
Speaking to eFeedLink at IPPE 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia, United States, Evonik's Technical Services Manager Dr. Anita Menconi explained that the withdrawal of antibiotics has resulted in problems for producers. These include increased incidences of necrotic enteritis and secondary infections caused by pathogens, and a rise in serious food safety concern pathogens, including Salmonella and Campylobacter.
Just two years ago at IPPE 2017, Evonik launched its first own-developed probiotic GutCare® for specific use in poultry. Along with the antibiotic movement, customers have wanted to know how they could best combine the use of probiotics with other feed additives.
"While we already know that probiotics are a good tool to have in your toolbox, there are several practices that a producer has to carry out when using other feed additives. Evonik has therefore developed trials, guided by questions from our customers, to study the compatibility of GutCare with other feed additives, including their additive or synergistic effects. For example, we study which combination of functional feed additives can be used together with GutCare, and at what concentration," elaborates Dr. Menconi.
Evonik also conducts compatibility trials with antibiotic growth promoters, which are still allowed at reduced levels in the US. In addition, as part of a series of animal health-related trials, Evonik evaluates the effects of GutCare on toxin-producing Clostridium perfringens; responsible for necrotic enteritis. While some of these trials are still for internal use, others will soon be published in peer-reviewed journals. As to the question of Evonik's recommendation of probiotics for infected sick birds, Dr. Menconi advises that birds be treated with antibiotics first, as per the diagnostic and treatment recommendation of the company veterinarian, followed by administration of probiotics to help re-establish the gut microbiota to a healthy level.
Dr. Menconi further shares how the science which goes behind the development of GutCare differentiates it from other probiotic products in the market:
"GutCare is based on a unique, patented Bacillus subtilis strain which is developed through extensive genetic mapping. It is a probiotic that has very safe and robust properties.
"We tested it at various levels. First we tested it in the feed under very harsh manufacturing conditions, such as a very high processing temperature of 195oF (~90oC), a six-minute pellet conditioning time, and with the use of harsh chemicals containing formaldehyde which can be used to reduce pathogens in feed. GutCare is able to survive under such harsh conditions primarily because it is protected by spores which germinates in the gut of the bird and ensures it delivery.
"Second, besides in vitro studies in the lab, in vivo studies are conducted in the bird for GutCare. Here, both performance and health-related studies are done. Performance-related studies include finding out the effect of GutCare on important parameters like daily weight gain, feed conversion ratio, and mortality. Health-related studies include testing how GutCare helps maintain equilibrium in the gut microbiota, and also its modes of action. We also run meta-analysis of trials to ensure consistency in results. In short, we have scientific data to back every product statement that we make."
While methionine remains the mainstay of Evonik's animal nutrition business, Dr. Menconi highlights that good nutrients have to be supported by animal health.
"Methionine is extremely important, but like all other nutrients, it has to be supported by a healthy gut so that it can be well-absorbed and do its job. That's why Evonik works from both the nutrition and health levels in our scientific studies," she sums up.
Michael Giffels, Head of Communications at Evonik, further shares: "Our motivation to go into probiotics was to provide a broader portfolio and holistic approach for our clients. To rise to the global food challenge for 10 billion people by 2050, we must surely provide more than amino acids going forward. On top of probiotics, we will further expand our portfolio with new products and services. We are working on livestock diagnostics. Last year, we acquired Porphyrio, a leading player in Big Data solutions for livestock production which we will present in more depth at VIV Asia in March."