African swine fever (ASF) and other foreign animal diseases (FAD) can be transmitted via feed or feed ingredients imported from countries where these diseases are present.

Both contaminated feed ingredients and contaminated packaging can potentially carry live virus.

Holding feed ingredients in storage prior to feeding can reduce viral survival.

Time, temperature, the feed ingredient itself and the properties of the virus all impact survival time. All four of those factors are critical but a simple rule is, the higher the temperature the shorter the virus survival time.

Transport time of feed ingredients from China to Canada or Europe to Canada averages between 30 and 40 days. Those days count in our favour.

Recommended holding times before a feed or feed ingredient is used:

20°C for 20 days or 10°C for 100 days

Considerations to reduce the risk of viral transmission through feed ingredients:

  1. Country of Origin – selecting feed ingredients from regional sources reduces the risk of the introduction of a Foreign Animal Disease.
  2. Supplier Selection – ask your Feed Mills and Feed Ingredient Suppliers to select sources that are from countries free of Foreign Animal Disease when possible, or at minimum, are compliant with known quality assurance standardization such as ISO 22000 or FAMI-QS.
  3. Feed Mills – Select Feed Mills that are part of a recognized biosecurity program and participate in the Animal Nutrition Association of Canada’s FeedAssure Program and follow their National Biosecurity Guide.

Current research has shown that feed ingredients can support viral survival and act as transport media to introduce diseases to your farm. The science on viral transmission via feed is still in its infancy and will continue to change but there is enough known to make general recommendations.

Reality check

  • Feed is one of many potential vectors of the virus
  • Exclusion of high-risk ingredients such as rice hulls and corn cobs from high-risk countries such as China, is currently the best strategy to keep feed and feed ingredients from bringing ASF into Canada.

Current supply chain constraints may limit producers’ ability to completely avoid Chinese- or Asian-based ingredients, and it may not be necessary if the ingredient is unlikely to be contaminated.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Have a chat with your suppliers
  • Review and improve your biosecurity
  • Stay tuned for more research

Pork producers should work with their feed suppliers to minimize viral transmission risk from feed ingredients.

SHIC decision tree matrix to minimize viral transmission risk from feed ingredients

The decision tree and questions developed by the US-based Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) could help producers have conversations with their feed or ingredient supplier about the safety of their ingredients.


Low risk feed ingredients


  • Synthetic amino acids packaged in
    individual, single-use bags

High risk feed ingredients

  • Rice hulls and corn cobs
  • Conventional soybean meal
  • Organic Soybean meal
  • Soy oil cake
  • Distillers dried grains with solubles
  • Lysine hydrochloride
  • Choline Chloride
  • Vitamin D


This information is intended to inform decisions that may reduce the risk of viral transmission. It is not intended to guarantee the complete elimination of the risk of viral transmission via these potential routes.