Raisio Feed Ltd. denies negligence over salmonella outbreak
The feed manufacturer Raisio Feed Ltd. denies that it failed to monitor the quality of its output, or that it acted negligently in connection with a recent outbreak of the salmonella bacteria.
Contaminated feed manufactured by Raisio Feed spread to pig farms and egg farms.
Matti Aho, a high-ranking official at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, said in an interview with the agricultural newspaper Maaseudun Tulevaisuus on Wednesday that the company had committed clear errors.
He noted that the Salmonella Tennessee bacteria had been found on a feed production line, and in feed that it produced.
The same bacteria had been detected in environment samples taken over several years by Raisio Feed in its self-monitoring.
Later on Wednesday, the ministry sent out a press release in which Aho’s observations were given a different slant.
According to the press release, neither Aho nor the ministry blame Raisio Feed of any serious shortcomings, or any other mistakes.
Environment samples are taken in the yard and building of the factory.
The production lines and the processes are monitored separately, says Raisio’s head of communications Heidi Hirvonen.
“Positive salmonella samples are found every year in environment samples. When this happens, the area in question is disinfected, after which new samples are taken. The cleaning is continued until all samples are clean."
The last time that salmonella was found in environment samples was last autumn.
In early March salmonella was first found on a production line and in feed that had been manufactured. Initially it was believed that the bacteria had come to the factory via foreign raw materials.
However, according to the Finnish Food Safety Authority (EVIRA), none of the lots of soybean feed imported into Finland had any bacteria of the type. The bacteria got into the production process through the cooling system.
According to Kaija Varimo, director of EVIRA’s animal feed unit, it is possible that the bacteria came from the environment, even after its removal following a positive test.
For instance, in 1995 at the Primalco feed factory in Koskenkorva, salmonella was found in an environment sample, and from the environment it had eventually reached the process.
A few years ago in Sweden, feed was contaminated and reached farms in a similar situation.
“The environment and factory space of a feed factory are very dusty. If the dust contains bacteria, it can start growing there.”
Matti Aho could not return a call from the Finnish News Agency STT on Wednesday.
In the interview with Maaseudun Tulevaisuus he expressed wonder at how the factory could continue operations in spite of numerous positive environment samples. Varimo said that the situation is quite clear.
“If salmonella is found in process equipment, the production is stopped."
Cleaning of the contaminated production line and the overhaul of the cooling system are still going on.
More on this subject:
Ministry considers tougher legislation on animal feed
Previously in HS International Edition:
Farmers dogged by salmonella suspicions as egg mountains are growing (19.3.2009)
Source of salmonella outbreak found at Raisio Feed factory (26.3.2009)
Salmonella discovered on eleven new egg farms over weekend (23.3.2009)
The Finnish Food Safety Authority EVIRA