Biosafe are partners of Feed Additives 2018. We spoke with Prof. Atte von Wright, Scientific Director, to find out more about the company and their role.
[Feed Additives] Please provide an overview of your company and your role
[Atte von Wright] The company was founded in 2006 as a spin-off enterprise of the University of Kuopio (nowadays University of Eastern Finland) with the aim to provide short term toxicological testing mainly for food contact materials. Gradually, also safety assessment of feed additives was included among our services, and since 2014 – when the company got new owners – the toxicological and microbiological safety and efficacy testing of feed additives according to the requirements formulated by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has been the main activity. Recently, again as a proactive measure for an anticipated EFSA policy (confirmed in the latest EFSA guidance document from spring this year), we have also included bioinformatics in our repertoire.
To sum up, we currently provide both in vitro toxicological (geno- and cytotoxicity) and microbiological testing required by EFSA for the establishment of the safety of biotechnologically produced feed additives (microorganisms, enzymes, amino acids, vitamins, coccidiostats), including products obtained by recombinant DNA technology. For chemical analysis, we have created a network of subcontractors. The staff currently includes, besides myself, four PhDs and four technicians, one aiming at MSc degree.
Personally, I have been involved in the company quite from the beginning, at first as one of the owners and chairman of the board, and as the Scientific Director as well. After 2014 I have continued as the Scientific Director and as a member of the board. As a Professor emeritus of Food biotechnology and as a former member of the Scientific panels of EFSA (both the FEEDAP and GMO panels) I feel qualified to provide both scientific and regulatory advice.
[Feed Additives] Can you explain your metabolic profiling method for test efficacy and effectiveness?
[Atte von Wright] The metabolic profiling required by the authorities is mostly linked to the assessment of the possibility of the presence of harmful metabolites, virulence factors or antibiotic resistances in the microorganisms that are used either as additives or biotechnological production organisms. These concerns can be addressed by bioinformatic analysis of the whole genome sequences of these microorganisms, biotesting for harmful bioactivities and by chemical analysis of either the product or its cell free culture supernatant. Usually a combination of all three approaches gives a holistic overview of the metabolic potential of the microorganism, and how this potential is reflected in the actual products in the relevant contexts related to animal, user/consumer, or environmental safety.
[Feed Additives] What are the biggest challenges your customers are facing?
[Atte von Wright] The safety requirements of EFSA for feed additives to be authorized in the EU are very strict, and sometimes not easy to interpret. There, as a rule, also occur technical problems, when the standardized test protocols are applied to products differing widely for their biological, chemical or physical properties. Sometimes also the outcome of the testing is not straight forward but needs interpretation and maybe application of alternative confirmatory testing approaches. We have expertise and routine to handle these situations and to guide our customer via the hurdles and traps of the process.
[Feed Additives] What are you most looking forward to at the conference?
[Atte von Wright] The main expectations are related to getting acquainted with the latest developments of the field, as well as sounding of the general awareness of the industry of the developing regulatory framework on feeds and feed additives in the EU. Naturally, we hope to attract potential customers that wish to get their product(s) authorized in Europe (or elsewhere in the world), and offer our services for their disposal.