Nutritional Innovation to promote Animal Health and Welfare

The IFIF work on nutritional innovation aims to support the industry in demonstrating how animal nutrition is an important contributor to promote animal health and welfare.

Animal Nutrition is an important part of the solution to help to contain Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). The feed sector plays a critical role in supporting animals’ optimal health with high resilience capabilities to stressors through safe and high-quality feed (feed formulation and processing) and access to nutritional innovation. It therefore is a key factor in the wellbeing of all livestock, fish and companion animals.

Adequate animal nutrition (defined as the provision of well-balanced and well formulated feed) combined with good hygiene practices on farms and proper housing are key in promoting animal health and welfare. A balanced diet of compound feed supported by specialty feed ingredients meets the animal’s physiological requirements and maintains the balance of the gut flora. Gut health is in fact a key factor in keeping animals healthy and resilient to stressors, such as heat or pathogens.

The IFIF Nutritional Innovation approach covers the following three pillars:

  • Scientific pillar: Development of scientific recommendations to ensure that nutritional innovations are assessed using science-based criteria.
  • Communication pillar: Awareness raising to explain and clarify the role of adequate nutrition in sustainable livestock production system, by maintaining animals in good health and well-being.
  • Regulatory pillar: Regulatory approaches to properly consider the role of adequate nutrition, improving market access and acceptance.

Compound feeds are vectors for providing nutrition, including nutrients (e.g., energy, protein, trace elements and vitamins) and feed ingredients that support the good functioning of the gastro-intestinal tract, of the immune system and of the metabolism of farmed and companion animals.

Further research has developed recently to demonstrate nutrition may help maintain animal in good health and assist in its endurance and resilience to stress factors by supporting microbiome, gut integrity and functionality, physiological and immune functions. This provides a justification to rethink nutrition beyond its current perceived role and position it as being part of preventive measures as mentioned in the joint EMA /EFSA  scientific opinion on measures to reduce the need of antimicrobial agents in animal husbandry in the European Union and the resulting impacts on food safety.

IFIF Working Group on Nutritional Innovation to promote animal health and welfare 

The IFIF Working Group on Nutritional Innovation created in 2020 develops scientifically based recommendations that substantiate the role of adequate nutrition in maintaining animal health and welfare. This work is supported by an external Scientific Expert Panel and complements the publication from the 2021 FAO report on animal nutrition strategies and options to reduce the use of antimicrobials in animal production.

Together with the experts from the IFIF Regulatory Committee, the IFIF Working Group on Nutritional Innovation evaluates the current and potential future integration of the role of adequate nutrition in regulatory framework covering the use of Feed ingredients in livestock and aquaculture production and companion animals food. 

Tools and Documents available

The following tools and documents, focusing on the role of adequate nutrition were developed by the IFIF Working Group on Nutritional Innovation:

1. Nutritional Innovation Statement (2019)

The IFIF WG on Nutritional Innovation to Promote Animal Health was created in order to take a strategic and forward-looking approach on this issue and to come up with a coordinated and detailed message towards international organisations. The Nutritional Innovation statement highlights how animal nutrition is an important contributor to promote animal health and welfare.

2. Definition of Adequate Nutrition (2020)

The IFIF Working Group on Nutritional Innovation, supported by the IFIF Regulatory Committee, developed a definition of adequate nutrition, providing the scope and recognizing the tertiary preventive role of nutrition.

3. Nutritional Innovation Glossary of Terms (2021)

The glossary of terms aims to ensure understanding of the various wording used in the IFIF documentation to help readers avoid misunderstandings and misinterpretation.

4. Nutritional Innovation Recommendation Documents (2022-2024) 

The recommendation documents aim at providing insights on the assessment of endpoints, including methodologies to measure the effectiveness of nutritional solution (i.e., solutions covered by the second part of the definition of adequate nutrition). They were developed by the IFIF Working Group together with an external Scientific Expert Panel (Profs. Mingan Choct, Hauke Smidt, Filip van Immersel):


Evaluation of the impact of gastrointestinal conditions on the health and welfare of ruminants


Evaluation of the impact of nutrient digestibility conditions on pigs and poultry health and welfare


Evaluation of the change in fermentation and metabolites profile on animal health and welfare


Evaluation of the exposure to mycotoxins on animal health and welfare


Evaluation of the impact of the maintenance of a proper gut structure on animal health and welfare

A further recommendation document is currently being drafted, for publication expected later in 2024. This document will cover the following topic:

  • Evaluation of the impact of microbiome function and metabolites on animal health and welfare

Disclaimer: These recommendations do not constitute a legal advice and should not be relied upon in making or refraining from making, any decision. Their mere purpose is to share good practices of the industry and offer ideas to consider. Please also note that laws vary significantly in different countries, so make sure to consult with applicable legislation while considering any of these recommendations.

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Additional Tools available for IFIF members

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1. Survey and analysis of regulatory frameworks

Thanks to our members, IFIF has developed a database collecting information on the various regulatory frameworks globally and evaluating the status of nutritional solution to support prudent use of antimicrobial in livestock and aquaculture production system. This database is regularly updated to consider the evolution of regulatory frameworks.

2. IFIF Regulatory Report (2020)

In 2020 this report was created to providing insight on the above regulatory frameworks.

3. Presentation of IFIF Nutritional Innovation Project

To support the communication work of our members in the various countries, IFIF is regularly updating a generic presentation, providing the goal and scope of the project and the relevant activities leading to the further development of this project.

4. Nutritional Innovation Review (2019)

The nutritional innovation review was the starting point of the project launch in 2019. It contains relevant information on the potential efficacy of various nutritional solutions on relevant endpoints, demonstrating the role of nutrition in maintaining health and welfare of animals. This document serves of a scientific reference point for our members, discussing further with stakeholders.

5. Overview of the 2021 FAO Report

After the publication of the FAO report on animal nutrition strategies and options to reduce the use of antimicrobials in animal production, the Working Group worked on a presentation presenting the overview and interpretation of the FAO Report with regards to the scope of the project.

6. Delineation approach (2023)

The delineation approach allows the evaluation of potential solutions either as a nutritional solution, i.e., fitting to the definition of adequate nutrition and having a mode of action compatible with the relevant endpoints described in the recommendation documents, or as a non-nutritional solution such as veterinary drug or biocidal products.