Possible Relaxing of Feed Rule in Europe

The European Commission (EC) is proposing to revise existing regulations of animal by-products to introduce clearer rules and set the general framework for more risk-proportionate requirements for these products. The new rules will also clarify when and how environmental legislation applies, and make it easier to use materials of animal origin for technical applications.

Thousands of slaughterhouses, farms, and dairy plants across the European Union (EU) produce more than 15 million metric tons of animal by-products per year. Currently, EC Regulation No. 1774/2002 regulates animal by-products and introduced a number of safeguards to prevent risk to public and animal health from food- and feed-borne diseases and toxins such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), dioxins, foot and mouth disease, and swine fever. Animal by-products from animals not fit for human consumption must be disposed of by incineration in approved plants under official control.

Under the proposal, experts will examine the feasibility and risk of relaxing existing rules so that tallow can be used as a fuel and some animal proteins may be used in animal feed. In 2007, EU scientists concluded that the BSE-related public health risks of using certain animal proteins in animal feed, particularly swine protein being fed to poultry and vice-versa, would be negligible. The EU already took a first step towards easing its overall BSE restrictions when in April, EU experts agreed to lift a seven-year ban on using fish meal in animal feed and allow it to be used as a milk replacement for calves and lambs. Provided the European Parliament agrees, the new fish meal provision could come into force later this year.

The Commission’s proposal now goes to the European Parliament and Council for consideration. Once adopted, the regulation would enter into force 20 days after its publication, with a transitional period of 15 months before new rules would take effect. Whatever the outcome, rendering industry experts state that the EU will never lift the ban on feeding animal proteins to ruminants. The EU banned the use of meat and bone meal in cattle feed in 1994 after scientists concluded that BSE was spread by feed containing contaminated ruminant protein.

August 2008 RENDER | back