The government has laid down rules in the regulation on animal feeds to guarantee the quality of animal feeds, and thus also of meat, milk and eggs. Many of the legal requirements for producers and those who distribute animal feeds are set at the European level.

Regulation Animal feeds

The Product Board Animal Feed is charged with much of the implementation of the quality policy and the related government regulations (set by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries, and the Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sport) and European Union regulations. The regulation on animal feeds focuses on two essential matters. In the first place, it governs the authorisation of products and the setting of residue limits or processing requirements assuring the safety of people, animals and the environment. In the second place, it regulates product labelling with an eye to promoting fair trade.

Undesirable substances and products in animal feeds

As part of the Quality Programme for Agricultural Products (KAP), consideration has been given to undesirable substances and products in animal feeds. Animal feeds can contain particular substances or products that are harmful for the health of humans and animals. Since the presence of these substances cannot always be entirely prevented, it is necessary to limit the levels of such substances in animal feeds to levels at which no undesirable effects result.

The Product Board Animal Feed had particular requirements regarding undesirable substances as early as the 1960s. These were intended to minimise the contamination of feeds with aflatoxin. In 1974 the European Union laid down Directive 74/63/EEC. This directive governs the maximum levels of undesirable substances and products in animal feeds.

In the Netherlands the guideline and its subsequent amendments have been translated for national application in the regulation Animal Feeds: Undesirable Substances and Products Regulation of 1988. This regulation includes maximum residue limits for a large number of substances (for example cadmium, lead and mercury, aflatoxin B1, dieldrin and DDT). The maximum permitted levels of undesirable substances differ between animal feeds and species, because an allowance is made for the risks that the substances may be found in the end products (egg, meat or milk) and for the share of that feed in an animals daily ration.

Aflatoxin limit

The aflatoxin limit for the raw material used in making animal feeds is 200 µg/kg. The limits may be stricter, depending on the processing to which the raw material is subject and the species for which it is intended. The strictest limit, of 5 µg/kg, applies to animal feed intended for dairy cattle.

Regulation Animal Feeds: Standards for GMP

In 1997 the Product Board Animal Feed also set the regulation Animal Feeds: Standards for GMP in the Animal Feeds Sector , which contains limits and requirements for animal feeds. These requirements were agreed in consultation with the subsequent links in the chain (farmers and the processing industry). This decision incorporates the ‘aflatoxin covenant’ of 1989. In this covenant the parties involved, including the dairy farming sector and the milk processing industries, agreed to limits on the amount of the fungal toxin aflatoxin in unmixed animal feeds for dairy cattle. These limits are stricter than the limit set in the law.