Canadian Renderers Voice Concerns to Government Officials

By Tina Caparella

The Canadian rendering industry has had its fair share of challenges in the last decade, but the most difficult of them came in June 2006 when the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) announced it would put in place an enhanced feed ban prohibiting certain cattle tissues that could possibly transmit bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), known as specified risk material (SRM), from all animal feed, pet food, and fertilizer in Canada. The regulations went into effect July 2007, forcing Canadian renderers to alter the way they did business, such as putting in separate processing lines, hauling ruminant material hundreds of miles to be processed, or ending the collection of ruminant material altogether.

Because of the BSE situation in Canada (19 cases have been confirmed since 2003), international markets have been closed or partially closed to Canadian rendered products for years despite the defenses put in place, including the enhanced feed ban, to ensure rendered products are safe. Canadian renderers have worked diligently with the CFIA to educate other countries of this fact, but the challenge of exporting remains firmly in place creating a topic for heated debate when the Canadian Renderers Association gathered in early May in Toronto, AB, Canada. CFIA officials were invited to hear the renderers’ concerns and try to find solutions.

Indonesia is one market that, albeit small, is important to Canadian renderers and desires to import animal proteins. The roadblock is the request by the Indonesian government for import permits from CFIA that are difficult to meet. Canadian government officials informed renderers they cannot initiate a dialogue to reopen export markets, and that it will take lobbying from that country’s industry and pressure from local governments. The same situation is being seen in Bangladesh and Vietnam, two more markets that previously imported Canadian rendered products.

As for the China tallow market, CFIA confirmed that things are moving forward quickly with many issues being resolved between the two governments. It was hoped that export requirements would be finalized very soon, something the U.S. rendering industry is not enjoying the luxury of.

Another topic of contention was that Canadian rendered products are not classified as being of Canadian origin like other agriculture commodities are when blended with imported products such as tallow from the United States. CFIA admitted the regulations need to be corrected to level out the playing field.

Canadian renderers also addressed biodiesel, which has come under attack by the European Union (EU) as it investigates accusations that U.S. biodiesel, which is subject to import tariffs, was being exported to the EU through Canada to circumvent the duties. Al Rickards, Rothsay, explained that the suspension came after Canada exported 250,000 metric tons of biodiesel even though the country’s biodiesel companies only produced 110,000 metric tons. The European Biodiesel Board is recommending that countervailing U.S. duties be extended to Canada with the exception of a few Canadian biodiesel producers.

Theft of used cooking oil (grease) was also on the radar screen in an effort to educate CFIA of the seriousness of the problem in Canada, which is escalating as market demand and prices surge. Renderers said law enforcement authorities are not interested in helping, and that the concern among the rendering industry is the stolen grease isn’t being tracked and could end up going into animal feed without being regulated. David Meeker, senior vice president, Scientific Services, National Renderers Association, further clarified to government officials that the North American rendering industry considers grease theft to be the biggest threat to feed safety. He explained that the majority of fat purchased for feed production comes from reputable suppliers, but all it takes is one supplier who is not following proper procedures (such as purchasing used cooking oil from a licensed collector) to possibly create a contaminated product. Meeker and Canadian renderers apprised CFIA of the industry’s hard work to ensure the biosecurity of rendered products and fears are that one bad incident would destroy those efforts.

CFIA officials noted that the agency is currently developing a facility specific risk assessment model related to contaminants, and then thanked the Canadian renderers for their efforts in furthering the two groups’ partnership and educating the agency on the challenges and concerns of the rendering industry.

June 2011 RENDER | back