Food Chain's Security and Sustainability in Europe

By N. C. Leth Nielsen, President, European Fat Processors and Renderers Association

Decades ago rendering was pronounced “the invisible industry.” Society did not really understand what this industry was doing, and the industry itself kept a very low profile in most countries around the world.

But the bovine spongiform encephalopathy crisis in the 1980s was an eye opener, first of all to the society in Europe where the rendering industry, in the eyes of the public, was closely linked to the situation and had a good deal of responsibility for its development to a global crisis. The rendering industry itself was forced to react, at the beginning quite defensively, and heavily opposed a feed ban that was introduced in the European Union (EU) in 2000. However, soon afterwards, the European Fat Processors and Renderers Association (EFPRA) and its members realized that a proactive role was necessary to re-establish confidence, not only to the rendering industry, but to the whole European food chain. EPFRA took an active and serious role in new legislation that was introduced in 2002 in the EU.

In this legislation, Commission Regulation (EU) No. 1774/2002, a strict separation of animal by-products, linked to the risk to human and animal health, was introduced where only animal by-products at the point of slaughter and fit for human consumption may be used as ingredients in diets for farmed animals.

Recently this legislation has been revised, simplified, and clarified somewhat, and as of March 4, 2011, a new regulation, EU 1069/2009, has come into force together with an implementing regulation, EU 142/2011. The proactive and responsible role of EFPRA towards legislators in both the old and new regulations has been acknowledged by the legislators in Europe and it appears that nowadays they have a great deal more confidence in the EU rendering industry.

But we must not stop at this point and be satisfied with the real improvement already gained. EFPRA, along with its sister organizations in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, is looking to find ways where the global industry can better promote its message that rendering is a crucial industry not only to the whole food chain, but to the global society.

In this regard we have seen, with some satisfaction, that the common efforts of the World Renderers Organization (WRO) can also make a difference. In Europe, the industry is preparing to be even more visible and EFPRA has just launched a new brochure with the title, “Driving Food Chain Security and Sustainability in Europe.” In this brochure, EFPRA highlights the fact that the animal by-products industry produces a very wide range of products such as premium animal fats for use in biscuits and bread making, for frying, and in the production of convenience food and confectionery.

The rendering industry also produces animal fats and proteins as highly valued ingredients in feed for farmed fish, poultry, pigs, and pets. EFPRA members also recover renewable energy and products for technical applications from raw material that is not suitable to enter the food chain, and with research and development, the industry continually improves bio-security and reduces the environmental impact of human food production.

The rendering industry is highly sustainable and securing a reduction of society’s carbon footprint by producing biodiesel, recovering energy from food residues, and generating electricity for industrial and domestic consumption. The animal by-products industry has also developed close cooperation with its partners in the food chain and is involved in developing technologies, products, and systems to ensure safe and more sustainable food. Rendered products are highly valued ingredients in fish and farmed animals as a good alternative or supplement to fish meal or vegetable oils and proteins.

These new trends and facing a growing population will no doubt be of great help for the European animal by-products industry in its fight to finally see a relaxation of the current feed ban. Some EU member states are quite proactive in asking for lifting the feed ban, including, among others, Poland, who will be the chairing country for the EU in the second half of 2011. In the European Parliament, the involved committees (environmental and agriculture) have delivered positive opinions as well.

Other arguments for lifting the feed ban include concerns about the poor economy for European pig farmers, Europe’s lack of domestically produced proteins (Europe is importing around 70 percent of the protein used in diets for farmed animals), and the fact that this deficit mainly is replaced by imports of soy, a business that many politicians in Europe find is a questionable alternative regarding its effect on the environment. And further, there are the genetically modified organism discussions and the EU perception to this issue.

So EFPRA finds that the climate is rather positive towards lifting the feed ban. The first step will be the allowance of non-ruminant proteins for non-ruminant animals, which will respect the EU ban on species-to-species feeding. Lifting the feed ban will bring Europe closer to an equivalent situation with the rest of the world, and together with the WRO, the promotion of processed animal proteins can be even stronger and by common efforts we can meet part of the world’s growing demand for safe and valued proteins.

There are now more than seven billion people and the world’s population is growing rapidly. How can we feed this growing population in the future, and, more importantly, how can we do it in a secure, sustainable, and environmental friendly way? So to answer one of the key questions in the world today, the animal by-products industry can be described as “not the solution, but part of the solution.” I am confident that finally “the true recyclers” will be acknowledged for their efforts to make a better world by “driving the food chain security and sustainability.”

There will be many opportunities in 2011 to learn more about the rendering industry and to meet friends and partners of the global animal by-products industry at these events:

• June 8-11, the EFPRA Congress in Dublin, Ireland (;
• July 28-29, Australian Renderers Association Symposium in Sydney, Australia (; and
• October 18-21, National Renderers Association Annual Convention in Tucson, AZ (

The WRO will hold meetings at all three events, discussing issues of global interest for a global industry.

International Report – April 2011 RENDER | back