Renderers Go to College

By Tina Caparella

In late 2005, the Fats and Proteins Research Foundation (FPRF) entered into a collaborative agreement with Clemson University to form the Animal Co-Products Research and Education Center (ACREC) in Clemson, SC. The center was dedicated in March 2006 and since that time, five research projects have been completed with 19 more underway. Projects have ranged from finding new markets for rendered products to validating the effectiveness of the rendering process on eliminating pathogens.

Three years after its dedication, members of FPRF and the National Renderers Association (NRA) took time to meet with ACREC researchers who have worked towards ensuring a secure future for renderers when both groups’ spring committee and board of directors’ meetings were held at Clemson University in late April 2009. A good turnout indicated that renderers are eager to support industry research.

FPRF Chairman J.J. Smith, Valley Proteins, reported the foundation is experiencing a good year for voluntary contributions, which is on target to exceed $800,000, monies that will be used to continue funding research projects at Clemson and other universities. FPRF has also established a relationship with the Poultry Protein and Fat Council of the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, and FPRF President Sergio Nates has evolved the group’s membership to include 12 other countries, with a goal of 16.

“The more we expose the foundation to the world, the more we can facilitate the members’ needs,” Nates commented. FPRF’s Research Committee approved two outside projects that will examine the digestible amino acids and metabolizable energy of animal by-products for turkey feeds and the key nutrients in feather meal and meat and bone meal in feeds for tilapia. Most notable was the FPRF Board of Directors’ approval of a new three-year contract with Clemson at $300,000 per year.

One objective of holding the meetings at Clemson was to allow renderers and researchers to interact, ask questions, and come up with solutions to future research goals. Three roundtable meetings that focused on biosecurity, the carbon footprint of the rendering industry, and new product development provided opportunity for research direction.

Within biosecurity, it was determined that renderers need tools to verify destruction of pathogens and diseases, as well as procedures to effectively disinfect a plant that has processed diseased material. Ross Hamilton, Darling International, told researchers that from a practical standpoint, rendering is best for processing material contaminated with a disease, such as avian influenza, but there is concern among the rendering community that a plant will then be perceived as “infected” if material is processed. Renderers informed researchers that some of the biggest biosecurity concerns within the industry are chlorinated pesticides in fats and recontamination of material once it leaves the plant.

The carbon footprint of the rendering industry was a popular roundtable, with Clemson researcher Dr. Charles Gooding presenting his rough calculations that show the rendering industry is removing 5.5 times more carbon dioxide from the environment than it is putting out, based on purchased energy. Gooding confirmed that there is no one particular way to determine a company’s carbon footprint but that his study will help prepare the rendering industry should the U.S. government decide to require reporting of greenhouse gas emissions by businesses. A study on rendering plant emissions in Europe is also underway.

As for new products, plastics is one market that some existing projects are already showing good results including molded flower pots. Other ideas that were brought to the table were packaging materials and films.

Committees Hash Out Issues
NRA committees tackled an array of current issues facing renderers, including environmental, biodiesel, and the new Food and Drug Administration (FDA) feed rule that went into effect April 27, 2009. Environmental Committee Chairman Bob Vogler compared the current environmental situation to a jack-in-the-box: “We’ve been cranking and cranking and now the jack has popped.” He warned that greenhouse gas emissions under the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Air Act will affect renderers directly, especially regarding boilers. Vogler also informed the committee that stormwater issues are being targeted more often by regulators for enforcement. Dr. David Meeker, NRA Scientific Services, advised members that sanitation will be imperative for compliance. Carl Wintzer, Wintzer and Sons, described ultraviolet technology and filtration devices that have proven effective in improving the quality of stormwater discharges.

Vogler next discussed the establishing of total maximum daily load (TMDL) limits on the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, indicating that non-point sources such as industrial stormwater discharges will face tougher standards in order to meet these limits. He expects similar moves by the EPA to establish TMDLs for other freshwater streams and lakes across the United States. Vogler also spoke about a new trend in some states toward the use of environmental justice reviews as part of the permitting process for projects, particularly in economically disadvantaged communities, whereby the project developer must reach out to the community to discuss the project and potential mitigation of adverse effects.

Biofuels Committee Chairman Chuck Neece declared that “it’s an interesting time for biofuels.” He said the renewable fuels standard has passed but has not yet been implemented due to the poor state of the biofuels industry, and there has also been a delay in the cold soak filtration test requirement for biodiesel that ASTM International passed in October 2008. Doug Smith, Baker Commodities, encouraged everyone to join ASTM International biofuels committees to increase representation and support. He said currently there are about 60 representatives from the biodiesel industry involved versus about 500 from engine manufacturers and the petroleum industry.

Neece stated that the recently passed European Union (EU) duties on U.S. biodiesel imported into the EU will range from $1.30 to $1.70 per gallon (see “International Report” in the April 2009 Render). The duties were calculated based on the $1.00 federal excise tax credit as well as state and other credits/taxes. The duties are temporary until at least this fall at which time they could become permanent, reduced, or increased based on EU findings.

Steve Kopperud, Policy Directions, informed committee members that current biofuel and alternative fuel mixture tax credits expire in December 2009 and already the fight has begun to extend them. One issue on the hot seat is a credit being taken for burning “black liquor,” which is a by-product of the papermaking process. For years the paper industry has been using this by-product as an alternative fuel but only recently realized it qualified for the alternative fuel mixture tax credit. So far, $6.6 million in credits have been received with estimates that as high as $10 million could be given out per year.

In the TSE (Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy) Committee, Kopperud updated members on the response to FDA’s proposed rule to delay the implementation of the new feed rule by 60 days. Over 400 comments were received during the seven-day comment period with a significant number of responses opposed to delaying the implementation date. FDA subsequently did not delay the implementation date, but did provide six additional months for compliance (see “Newsline” on page 8). Renderers remain frustrated over this “unnecessary” rule and that FDA has not addressed the disposal issue.

“We can comply, but the cattle and dairy industries are the ones with the problem because we must comply,” stated Committee Chairman Mark Myers, Darling International. Kopperud declared it an unfunded mandate on state government due to disposal issues.

Legislative Committee Chairman David Kaluzny II, Kaluzny Bros., urged renderers to attend NRA’s Congressional Fly-in June 15-17, 2009, in Washington, DC. He said with the new administration, there is new staff to educate on the rendering industry.

Meeker informed the Animal Protein Producers Industry (APPI) Committee that 96 rendering plants are certified in the industry’s code of practice and that the inspection checklist has been updated to include compliance with the new FDA feed rule. He also reported that Salmonella has become a bigger issue lately due to recent outbreaks, especially in peanut butter, and warned members that plant biosecurity will need to be stepped up in order to ensure zero Salmonella levels. APPI conducts a Salmonella testing program for its members and FPRF is currently conducting two research projects focused on Salmonella.

Impositions on International Markets
Export markets remain a challenge for the U.S. rendering industry, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) actively committed to reopening and keeping existing markets viable. Joyce Bowling-Heyward provided an update on APHIS activities to the NRA International Market Development Committee (IMDC), beginning with China, which still allows imports of non-ruminant meals under a bilateral agreement. The Egypt market remains closed to poultry by-product meal, and APHIS will again approach government authorities this summer to discuss reopening. APHIS has finalized export requirements for poultry meal to Turkey, which specifies that product be produced from birds that pass antemortem inspection and lot-specific Salmonella and Enterobacteriaceae testing. And in South and Central America, bilateral agreements have been finalized for porcine and poultry meal to Peru and poultry meal to Guatemala and Columbia.

Taiwan is another difficult market. APHIS has requested that Taiwan exempt heat-treated feather meal from its avian influenza bans, and continues to negotiate over the matter that every exporting facility be inspected by Taiwan officials to ensure they meet a detailed verification program. On the other hand, negotiations between APHIS and Taiwan have been exhausted for exporting protein free tallow for use in animal feed.

Bowling-Heyward explained that Canada will implement part four of their animal health regulations beginning July 1, 2009, which will allow U.S. origin bovine meat and bone meal as a pet food ingredient only if the meat and bone meal is free of specified risk material (SRM) per the Canadian definition and the pet food is certified by APHIS. Renderers who wish to be approved to provide SRM-free meat and bone meal for use in pet food exported to Canada will need to source raw materials from packers approved by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. Canada does not permit export of bulk shipments of U.S. origin ruminant meat and bone meal, while non-ruminant meals are permitted with a Canadian import permit and an APHIS export certificate, which is only issued after an APHIS inspection.

New EU legislation to revise European Commission Regulation No. 1774/2002 is on track to be approved in late spring/summer, which would then take another 15 months before implementation. Bowling-Heyward said several changes would be helpful to renderers:

1. It will remove the requirements, in some cases, for by-products to come from carcasses that have passed postmortem inspection.

2. It should allow export of tallow that has not been pressure treated.

3. It should deregulate some products such as oleochemicals so that APHIS certificates are not needed for export.

4. Some products will not need APHIS certificates but the exporting facilities will still need to be inspected and approved by APHIS.

The EU has also updated its definition of SRM, which now permits bovine vertebral column from animals under 30 months of age. However, exporters must source their bones from Agricultural Marketing Service approved suppliers and go through a re-approval process to be eligible for export. Russia has implemented new requirements that the U.S. government submit a list of all approved facilities with the expectation that Russia will then come and inspect every facility. According to Bowling-Heyward, Russia is not looking for compliance with export certificates, but is looking for compliance with Russian standards that U.S. facilities have not had to meet in the past.

NRA’s international staff provided their own take on and involvement in the international arena, beginning with Kent Swisher who reported that the top global animal protein exporters were EU-27, 27 percent; United States, 24 percent; Australia, 20 percent; South America, 15 percent; New Zealand, 12 percent; and Canada, two percent. The EU countries saw a 48 percent increase in exports in 2008 over 2007, while Canada saw a 39 percent drop in exports during the same time. As for tallow, most countries saw a drop in their exports, with Brazil suffering the most at a 97 percent decline in 2008 over 2007 due to increased domestic use in biodiesel. The EU-27 saw a drop of 37 percent year over year, and Canada’s tallow exports were down by 12 percent. On the positive side, the United States saw a four percent increase, Australia a three percent rise, and New Zealand tallow exports were up by 10 percent. The United States is the top tallow supplier globally, with one million metric tons exported in 2008.

Specific regions were highlighted by NRA regional directors, with German Davalos covering Latin America. NRA participated in a number of seminars throughout the region to educate feed manufacturers on the benefits of rendered products. Mexico, currently the fourth largest producer of animal feed and poultry and eggs worldwide, is currently not importing any ruminant meat and bone meal from the United States while it protests its “controlled” bovine spongiform encephalopathy risk categorization by the World Organization for Animal Health, or OIE. While the poultry industry in Mexico is the largest consumer of U.S. animal protein meals, growth opportunities in Mexico include pet food and aquaculture, particularly shrimp and tilapia. Davalos remarked that exports of non-ruminant protein meals to Peru should increase significantly now that import requirements have been finalized.

Dr. Peng Li, newly appointed NRA regional director for Asia, has been busy the first four months of his tenure. He stated that China’s feed industry, at 137 million metric tons last year, is still growing, and the country’s soap industry is a strong supporter of importing U.S. tallow, which could see an annual demand of 300,000 to 400,000 metric tons. Li reported the specifics on China’s tallow ban and that plans to renegotiate with leaders are scheduled for this summer.

FPRF’s Nates informed the IMDC Committee that the Global Aquaculture Alliance is working on feed mill certification programs for various fish species. Currently a Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certification standard is already in place for tilapia and shrimp, with the group now working on one for salmon. Nates, who serves on the GAA Board of Directors, said Wal-Mart and other large supermarkets are beginning to require BAP certification on aquaculture products.

The NRA and FPRF will hold their annual meetings in October in San Francisco, CA.

June 2009 RENDER | back