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Improved diagnostics needed to reduce ASF risk from soybean meal

The Swine Health Information Center says to better address the risk of imported soybean meal harbouring African swine fever (ASF), we need to know more about the manufacturing process, improve tests for contamination and create an effective response plan.

25 July 2019, at 10:43am

Representatives of the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC), soybean commodity groups and US and Canadian soybean meal importers met earlier this month to discuss the risks of imported soybean meal harbouring and transferring the virus responsible for ASF. SHIC Executive Director Dr Paul Sundberg says the main risk probably comes from post processing contamination of soybean meal but we don't have the science behind the times, temperatures and pressures that go into the different types of extraction that lead to soybean meal.

"If we're going to rely on the soybean meal process as a mitigation step to viruses that may be on the soybeans for example, we need to know more about the specific conditions of that processing to ensure that they do in fact meet the bar of deactivating ASF and other viruses," said Dr Sundberg in an interview with Farmscape.

"We have to have better diagnostic tests to help us assess ASF in feed, which means that we can run PCRs so we may be able to detect but we have to have that process validated so we can have absolute confidence in the results.

"We have to have better sampling techniques to be able to ensure that we have confidence in sampling a bulk load of ingredients so if it's in there we know that we're going to find it.

"The third thing that came out of the research is to develop an agreed upon response plan. The "what happens if" question is really important.

"We all need to know the answers to that before we institute a surveillance or monitoring programme."

Dr Sundberg considers those three factors to be really important in prevention activities and monitoring risk.