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IPC Conference: Working together works

Poultry producing countries share common goals. Food safety and public health are particular issues that link them together. For this reason they understand that they need to work together on a global scale. That seems to work well through the International Poultry Council (IPC). Last March IPC convened again, this time in Paris.

By Ad Bal
Poultry producing countries around the world are to a great extent competitors. But they also share common goals. Avec, the European association of poultry processors and poultry trade in EU countries, represents the majority of EU countries and together they have one strong voice, for example in negotiations with EU authorities. In the USA, there is the Poultry & Egg Export Council and in Brazil, the Ubabef poultry association represents the Brazilian poultry industry.
These and similar bodies in other important countries like in China, Russia, Mexico and others together founded the International Poultry Council (IPC) just over six years ago. Their common goal is to set standards, create consumer awareness and establish close ties with international bodies such as the OIE, WHO and FAO.
Never lose goals
This relatively infant organisation is still in its developing stage and therefore finding its way to be as effective as possible. “But we are well on track”, says president Jim Summer of IPC. “The important thing is that we are focusing on what is linking us together, rather than what separates us. Our slogan “Working together works” therefore truly reflects this mission. Very important issues such as food security may never be at risk and therefore never be a matter of discussion. We all agree on that and therefore we aim to cooperate as good as possible and make agreements as far as this is within reach.”
This is also the strong conviction of vice president Tage Lysgaard from Denmark, more or less the founding father of IPC. “We must never lose our goals”, he adds. “There is much to gain on an international scale. Information standards are very essential. This is one of the key issues of IPC and not just applies to chicken, but also to ducks, turkey and other poultry species. Patience is needed to achieve our goals, however. But we are getting there.”
Public health
The IPC has two regular meetings per year. This year they convened in Paris, France, just after the meeting of the International Egg Commission (IEC) in Venice, Italy. This makes sense, since quite a few members of the IPC are also involved in the IEC. IPC has both country members, as well as associate members, such as suppliers to the industry.
During the Paris meeting, a range of speakers from particularly international public organisations addressed the IPC audience. Their presentations to a large extent had a strong link to public health and food safety.Dr Alex Thiermann of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) underlined the necessity of having strict worldwide veterinary legislation. “At least one new disease occurs every year”, he said. “75% of these are zoonotic and this percentage is even increasing. Many of these diseases are transboundary in nature and many have a significant impact such as SARS and Avian Influenza. OIE recommends on separation of animal sub-populations with a different health status how-to and at the same time eradicate diseases. Important tools are to define compartmentalisation zones, thus isolating animals as much as possible and prevent further spreading of diseases.
Early warning
The necessity of keeping diseases under control was also addressed by Dr Peter Ben Embarak of the World Health Organisation (WHO). “We live in a changing world”, he said. “In the past 12 years, the world population has grown by 1 billion. Nowadays over 50% of the population is living in urban areas with expansion of human settlements and environmental degradation. Microbes adapt and become resistant.
The changing nature of our interactions alters disease dynamics. In the last 65 years, 335 new infectious diseases have come up, of which 30% are transmitted through food. An early detection and rapid response system is a very valuable and necessary tool to prevent major disease outbreak. A Global Early Warning Systems (GLEW) involves close cooperation between FAO, WHO and OIE to in an early stage detect and isolate a disease. Close cooperation between the food producing industry, national authorities and public bodies like the above mentioned organisations is therefore of immense importance to guarantee food safety.”
License to produce
Also Avec secretary Cees Vermeeren underlined the necessity of producing safe food and presented the measures that are currently taken in the EU to achieve this goal. “Clear information to consumers is key”, he said. Such an example is clear labelling. “We should never lose our license to produce”, he concluded.
Guidelines for the control of Campylobacter and Salmonella in chicken meat and guidelines for risk analysis of foodborne antimicrobial resistance, were presented by Dr Annamaria Bruno of the Codex Alimentarius Commission. This is a joint initiative of FAO and WHO for food standards. Their dual objective is to protect the health of consumers, as well as facilitate fair practices in food trade. They provide information to governments and to the industry on the control of Campylobacter and Salmonella in chicken meat. Also they advise on the steps to be taken in a primary production to consumption food chain for chicken meat produced in industrial systems. “These are important measures to decrease anti microbial resistance along the food chain”, according to Dr Bruno.
Dr Olaf Thieme of the FAO and Vincent Guyonnet of the International Egg Commission both discussed Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) in livestock production. This focuses on developing methods for quantifying and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. The objective is to together develop strategies to reduce food loss and waste and further enhance sustainable production methods and use natural resources more effectively. IPC will actively participate in this project.
Statement adopted
The IPC meeting in Paris was again a place to strengthen ties between members and find ways to further cooperate and share common goals on a global basis. One achievement was to adopt a draft position statement supporting continued use of antibiotics, reading:
“The IPC supports prudent and responsible use of antibiotics by the global poultry industry, as well as sound scientific investigation to discover and develop novel technologies and approaches to supplant their use when practical.” The meeting was also the occasion for vice chairman Tage Lysgaard to leave the organisation because of his retirement. For this special occasion, former EU commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel honoured Lysgaard for his endless contributions and efforts to Danish and international organisations like Avec and lastly IPC. The position of Lysgaard in the IPC has been taken over by Peter Bradnock of the British Poultry Council. The next meeting of the IPC will be held this coming August, concurrently with the World’s Poultry Congress in Bahia, Brazil.
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