As in human nutrition, concepts in animal nutrition are changing. Optimal nutrition is now considered fundamental whereas in the past adequate nutrition was considered sufficient. Optimal nutrition implies that feeds must be considered not only in terms of their nutritional properties but also in terms of their ability to promote health and protect against disease. The health of the animal is fundamental in determining the quality, safety and wholesomeness of foods of animal origin for human consumption. Feed for health creates a research network concerned with: the role of animal nutrition in improving animal health; the role of animal nutrition in designing foods for humans; and the development of the concepts of feed safety, feed quality, as counterparts of these ideas as they are currently applied foods for humans. The main task of the network has been to promote the acquisition and facilitate the dissemination of knowledge in these areas.
Department of Health, Animal Science and Food Safety, University of Milan - ItalyLead applicant
Institute of Livestock Research - AustriaInitiative partner
Leibniz Institute for Farm Animal Biology - GermanyInitiative partner
Agricultural University of Tirana (AUT) - AlbaniaInitiative partner
Beacon Research Greenleigh - United KingdomInitiative partner
Cukurova University - TurkeyInitiative partner
University Sts. Cyril and Methodius - MacedoniaInitiative partner
Agroscope Liebefeld-Posieux Safety and Quality - SwitzerlandInitiative partner
Veterinary Physiology University of Bern - SwazilandInitiative partner
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences - SwedenInitiative partner
University of Cordoba Campus Rabanales - SpainInitiative partner
University of Barcelona - SpainInitiative partner
University of Ljubljana - SloveniaInitiative partner
Institute for Food Technology - SerbiaInitiative partner
Scientific Veterinary Institute Novi Sad - SerbiaInitiative partner
National Research and Development Institute for Biology and Animal Nutrition - RomaniaInitiative partner
Joint Research Centre Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements. - BelgiumInitiative partner
AGresearch - New ZealandInitiative partner
University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro - PortugalInitiative partner
Institute of Animal Reproduction and Food Research of Polish Academy Of Sciences - PolandInitiative partner
Institute of food safety RIKILT - NetherlandsInitiative partner
University College of Dublin Befield - IrelandInitiative partner
Agricultural University of Athens - GreeceInitiative partner
INRA - FranceInitiative partner
University of Helsinki Department of Animal Science - FinlandInitiative partner
MTT Agrifood Research Finland Animal Production Research - FinlandInitiative partner
University of Copenhagen LIFE IBHV - DenmarkInitiative partner
Aarhus University Nutrition and Production Physiology, Institute of Animal Health, Welfare and Nutrition - DenmarkInitiative partner
The Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic - Czech RepublicInitiative partner
Research Institute of Crop Production - Czech RepublicInitiative partner
Faculty of Agriculture in Osijek Trg sv. - CroatiaInitiative partner
Trakia University - BulgariaInitiative partner
Walloon Agricultural Research Centre - BelgiumInitiative partner
Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research (ILVO) - BelgiumInitiative partner
Nofima - NorwayInitiative partner
University of Reading School of Agriculture, Policy and Development - United KingdomInitiative partner
Estonian University of Life Sciences - EstoniaInitiative partner
The Institute of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Sciences was formed on January 1, 2005 by amalgamation of the Institute of Animal Science, the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, and the Estonian Agrobiocentre of the former Estonian Agricultural University. Institute's responsibility is to provide science based teaching and research in veterinary medicine, animal sciences, and meat and dairy technology to respond to the needs of the agricultural and food industry. Research conducted by the departments and working groups of the Institute involves almost all aspects of the “from farm to fork” production and processing chain of animal products. Institute has totally more than 215 emploees. Department of food sciences and hygiene includes teaching and research staff, technicians and several PhD students. Department is well experienced in life-long learning activities and involvement of public bodies. The laboratories of the Department of Food Science and Hygiene of the EMÜ are well equipped, recently renovated and well functioning units.
Norwegian School of Veterinary Science - NorwayInitiative partner
research and teaching
from Adequate nutrition to Optimal nutrition in food producing animals
Feed for Health has addressed several scientific topics during its life span. However, three main scientific fields can be identified: animal nutrition (nutritional optimisation); food of animal origin quality, and consumers’ perception. In the field of nutritional optimisation, what is evident from the project is that vitamins, vitamin-like compounds, essential fatty acids as well as probiotics and nutraceuticals are under investigation by different groups in order to evaluate their effectiveness in the animal and their products. Scientific results obtained in this field have suggested that in general, nutritional interventions using these feed additives usually positively affect animal wellbeing in specific case (e.g. vitamins, and probiotics), whereas in other cases the main effects are observed on the final products (higher food quality). This feed-to-food approach makes it possible to re-position animal products as key foods for the delivery of important nutrients to humans.
The latest review of livestock production and trade indicates that more than 45 million tonnes of meat, and more than 135 million tonnes of milk and 7 million tonnes of eggs were produced in the EU in 2013. To sustain this scale of livestock production, about 470 million tonnes of feedstuffs are required each year in the EU. Clearly, ensuring such high outputs of these traded products conform to adequate quality standards is a major undertaking and it is fair to say that the EU has made significant progress in defining standards and promoting legislation in this area. However, nowadays both feeds and foods must be considered not only in terms of their nutritional properties and/or nutritional efficacy, but also in terms of their ability to promote wellbeing. This is particularly likely to be true in large-scale animal production, where nutrition-based interventions for wellbeing and welfare can offer a practical and efficient solution for innovative and sustainable production.
FFH represented a multidisciplinary forum for discussing about the food of animal origin chain, starting from its production up to its quality and functionality for target consumers, including their perception. Expertise in animal nutrition, animal science, human nutrition science and social science have been combined. An example was a comprehensive review of the current and future role of animal nutrition in creating foods closer to the optimum composition for long term human wellbeing. Thus, the role of animal nutrition and its potential to reduce the proportion of saturated fatty acids in fat, as well as the health effects of bioactive peptides from bovine milk proteins or seafood that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, were reviewed. Several research activities went into more depth on consumer perception of functional food, as well how consumers think about the origin of livestock and aquaculture production. In this context, the feed and food safety question was always present.
The main beneficiaries and users of Feed For Health (FFH) results were the scientific community and several other stakeholders. FFH not only promoted the acquisition and integration of knowledge, facilitated the dissemination of information, and encouraged cooperation, but also identified new areas of research, identified trends and suggested policies, and promoted and optimised collaboration in research on the integration of animal and human nutrition. There has also been considerable impact on the young scientists involved in organising an international scientific event.
Livestock production system. A succession of food crises have severely shaken the publics’ confidence in the livestock production and food supply systems. The dissemination of the results generated by FFH may improve confidence in food products from animals, and enhance public perception of their value (i.e. consumers).
FFH is an integrated and collaborative network of research groups that have expertise in feeds, animal nutrition, animal health and also in the quality, safety and healthiness of foods of animal origin and consumer attitudes. The total number of individual participants involved in FFH were about 128. Percentages of female and of Early Stage Researcher participants were 52% and 51%, respectively.
Chair of feed for health: Prof. Luciano PINOTTI, University of Milan, Italy;
Vice-Chair Prof. Ashild KROGDAHL Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, Norway;
WG1 Chair- Prof. Ian GIVENS, University of Reading, United Kingdom; Prof. Chris KNIGHT, University of Copenhagen, Denmark;
WG2 Chair- Dr. Vincent BAETEN Walloon Agricultural Research Centre, Belgium; Dr. Leonard VAN RAAMSDONK, Rikilt Institute of food safety,The Netherlands;
WG3 Chair- Dr. Stephen WOODGATE, Beacon Research, United Kingdom; Dr. Dolores Perez Marin, University of Cordoba, Spain;
WG4 Chair- Prof. Joop LUTEN, Nofima, Norway
Creating the right balance between breadth and focus
Creating the right geographical and scientific-expertise balances
Furthermore, because funding from governments and industry for research into feedstuffs and farm animal nutrition is reducing (although the global demand for food of animal origin is expected to increase dramatically), there is a growing need to enhance research in this area. Furthermore there is little pooling of experience between different production systems across the world, which are even more heterogeneous than before.
To be recognised as a big network in an important field
Bringing together experts from a range of relevant disciplines at a management/coordination level.
Focused scientific interaction within a number of key areas
Involvement of early stage researchers and setting up of the ERS group
Involvement of a broad range of EU countries
Although, demand for food of animal origin in the future could be heavily moderated by socio-economic factors, such as human wellbeing concerns and changing socio-cultural values, the global demand for livestock products is expected to double during the first half of this century, as a result of the growing human population, and its growing affluence. Over the same period, we expect big changes in the climate globally. In light of this animal production will increasingly be affected by competition for natural resources, particularly land and water, competition between food and feed and by the need to operate in a carbon-constrained economy. As a consequence, also for livestock, issues like sustainability, energy savings, biodiversity defence, goods lifecycle closing, etc. are essential. All these areas are of large strategic importance for the livestock sector to develop innovative, competitive, and functional products.
Bringing together scientists and professionals in different fields and mixing their expertise is extremely useful and effective. Thus one of the goal of FFH was to address not only the roles of feed and animal nutrition in improving animal wellbeing and also the quality, safety of foods of animal origin, but also to examine the consumer concerns and perception as regards livestock production systems. The main conclusions drawn from consumer studies are: 1- Consumers do not compromise on taste for health benefits. 2- From a consumer perspective, healthy innovations are highly product specific, context specific and segment specific. 3- Healthy innovations maybe supported by appropriate consumer communication. In this respect, the main success of the FFH was to start a cross-talk not only between different research fields, i.e. life science and social science, but also to implement the contacts between different food chain stakeholders.
FFH has organised fourteen scientific events, which covered extremely important and timely topics; a further success of FFH was to interact with several scientific societies, which apart from the science, exposed FFH to a large audience. The impact has also been wide geographically with activity spread from northern Norway to the Mediterranean region. In terms of the number of publications and other outreach activities, FFH has produced more than 270 publications, nine books of abstracts and more than 30 spin-off activities (projects, etc.). However, a key element in dissemination was the use of multimedia tools. FFH generate more than 18 videos uploaded on Vimeo or Youtube. FFH’s website has continued to be an important communication platform for the on-going activities. Thus, FFH has demonstrated that it is not only mature from a scientific point of view, but also that one of the major goals, i.e. to establish a new scientific network in food and agriculture, was achieved.