What do we feed to food-production animals? A review of animal feed ingredients and their potential impacts on human health

Amy R. Sapkota, Lisa Y. Lefferts, Shawn McKenzie, Polly Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

Objective: Animal feeding practices in the United States have changed considerably over the past century. As large-scale, concentrated production methods have become the predominant model for animal husbandry, animal feeds have been modified to include ingredients ranging from rendered animals and animal waste to antibiotics and organoarsenicals. In this article we review current U.S. animal feeding practices and etiologic agents that have been detected in animal feed. Evidence that current feeding practices may lead to adverse human health impacts is also evaluated. Data sources: We reviewed published veterinary and human-health literature regarding animal feeding practices, etiologic agents present in feed, and human health effects along with proceedings from animal feed workshops. Data extraction: Data were extracted from peer-reviewed articles and books identified using PubMed, Agricola, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention databases. Data synthesis: Findings emphasize that current animal feeding practices can result in the presence of bacteria, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, prions, arsenicals, and dioxins in feed and animal-based food products. Despite a range of potential human health impacts that could ensue, there are significant data gaps that prevent comprehensive assessments of human health risks associated with animal feed. Limited data are collected at the federal or state level concerning the amounts of specific ingredients used in animal feed, and there are insufficient surveillance systems to monitor etiologic agents "from farm to fork." Conclusions: Increased funding for integrated veterinary and human health surveillance systems and increased collaboration among feed professionals, animal producers, and veterinary and public health officials is necessary to effectively address these issues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)663-670
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental health perspectives
Volume115
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2007

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Keywords

  • Animal feed
  • Animal waste
  • Concentrated animal feeding operations
  • Fats
  • Human health effects
  • Nontherapeutic antibiotics
  • Rendered animals
  • Roxarsone
  • Zoonoses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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