August 11, 2016


EU agency calls for less copper content in cattle feed



The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has recommended reducing the maximum copper content in feeds for piglets, cattle and dairy cows to reduce the amount of copper released into the environment, which could potentially play a role in reducing antimicrobial resistance.


EFSA's Panel on Additives and Products or Substances used in Animal Feed (FEEDAP) said copper content in complete feed for piglets should not exceed 25 mg per kg (down from 170 mg/kg). The maximum content of copper in complete feed for dairy cows and cattle should be reduced from 35 mg/kg of feed to 30 mg/kg, the panel added.


For most other animal groups, the currently authorised upper levels are unchanged except for goats where the Panel recommends an increase.


The recommended levels, EFSA said, are considered sufficient to satisfy the nutritional needs for copper of these animal groups.


The FEEDAP panel's work is based on an extensive systematic literature review and data collected from member states of the EU and stakeholders.


The panel estimates that the reduction of copper in feed for piglets would reduce the release of copper into the environment through manure by 20%.


EFSA experts also said reducing copper in feed could help reduce antimicrobial resistance in pigs and in the environment. This is because some studies indicate that the occurrence of antimicrobial resistance could potentially be linked to the genetic proximity of some antibiotic- and copper-resistant genes.