Renderers Wrestle with Finding Solutions

By Tina Caparella

National Renderers Association (NRA) members traveled north of the border to the bustling city of Toronto, ON, Canada for the group’s spring meeting in early May, which was hosted by Canadian renderer Rothsay and NRA Chairman Kevin Golding, president of Rothsay. Mixed in with the business meetings was a networking dinner sponsored by Rothsay at Toronto’s CN Tower’s revolving restaurant at 1,151 feet up in the air. The breathtaking views gave a reprieve to the hard-hitting discussions held back down on earth during the group’s committee and board meetings.

The challenges faced in international markets were addressed by the International Market Development Committee (IMDC), beginning with Peng Li, NRA regional director for Asia, who provided an update on China’s tallow ban. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is further along completing export protocols with China than the U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHS) is, which has indicated the potential import requirements being developed with CFIA may be applicable to U.S. tallow exported to China. In July 2010, China lifted its ban on tallow from countries classified by the World Organization for Animal Health, or OIE, as “controlled risk” for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), but has been slow to finalize import requirements. Meanwhile, China’s association for the detergent, soap, and surfactant industry has worked with various entities to prompt the country’s government to open the market for U.S. and Canadian tallow due to the extremely high price of tallow from Australia, which is running 200 percent higher than U.S. tallow prices. The NRA is coordinating with APHIS to expedite the negotiations.

German Davalos, NRA regional director for Latin America, reported there is no U.S. or Canadian ruminant meat and bone meal being imported into Mexico and the country’s largest importer is looking for more porcine meal from the United States despite tight supplies. Mexico beef exports are expected to be up by 17 percent in 2011 even though its OIE BSE classification is the same as the United States and Canada. Mexico is BSE and foot and mouth disease-free and is working on changing its OIE categorization to “negligible risk.” Davalos also reported that Colombia and Peru are now importing poultry by-product meal.

There is much optimism in Europe as Bruce Ross, Ross Gordon Consultants, informed renderers that the European Union’s (EU’s) new animal by-products regulation that went into effect March 4, 2011, is offering export opportunities for U.S. and Canadian renderers, primarily in biofuels, pet food, and oleochemicals.

“While the new rules are in place, the practicalities are being introduced gradually on both sides of the Atlantic,” Ross commented. For example, a marker for tallow for biodiesel use must still be approved, and EU authorities must be convinced of the absolute safety of animal fats for oleochemical use. Ross underlined the importance that the new by-products rule does not address or alter the EU’s ban on use of processed animal proteins in animal feed.

Kent Swisher, vice president, NRA International Programs, recapped the global scene, explaining that in 2011, 42 percent of IMDC’s funding for export markets will be spent in Latin America, 45 percent in Asia, six percent in Europe, and four percent throughout the rest of the world. Swisher is an advocate for preventing market losses rather than regaining them after they’ve closed. He reported that Indonesia is currently the largest protein market for U.S. renderers, something that could be of concern and viewed as risky. Egypt used to be the second biggest protein market, and now it doesn’t import any animal protein meals.

Perhaps of greater concern to the IMDC is consolidation of the rendering industry leading to fewer members thus less financial backing, and the lack of packer-renderer support. The committee and NRA’s international activities (i.e., seminars, product samples, and travel) are funded by IMDC membership and federal programs that provide matching funds. For the last few years, IMDC has been operating on lower membership dues supplemented by reserve monies that are quickly running out. Committee members discussed various options, and ultimately decided to recommend to the NRA Board of Directors to fund IMDC through NRA dues instead of IMDC member dues. This would make the committee a voluntary committee without a dues requirement. The board will consider the recommendation as it works through possibly restructuring the NRA dues this year.

The Animal Protein Producers Industry (APPI) Committee reviewed its protein meal testing program, which is designed to check the rendering system, not every load produced. Dr. David Meeker, senior vice president, NRA Scientific Services, said widespread testing of rendered products for Salmonella is not necessary and would be cost prohibitive.

“Rendered products are an easy target to blame, but simply eliminating those ingredients is usually not the answer,” Meeker stated, referring to last summer’s egg recall. He recommended that APPI members put two testing regimes in place – one to verify the cooking process at the cooker, and another to verify the sanitation process at load out.

Meeker highlighted the new Food Safety Modernization Act signed into law in January 2011 that creates a new food safety system with broader prevention mandates and accountability. The act emphasizes partnership with industry and consumer groups and farm to table responsibility, and requires food producers to perform third party laboratory testing. The Food and Drug Administration expects many challenges due to the enormous workload of creating guidance documents, reports, and new rules.

Meeker attended an industry meeting held by FDA and his key observation was that the centerpiece of this new act is the requirement for all food, feed, ingredient, and pet food facilities to identify food/feed safety hazards and develop written guidelines to control them with third‐party audits, such as is already being followed by many renderers via the North American Rendering Industry Code of Practice. NRA and other groups emphasized several key points to FDA, such as feed is different than food, industries vary greatly so “one size” will not fit all, the handling of records and confidentiality of business information is important, guidance documents are necessary so industry knows what is expected of them, and some provisions of the act are not compliant with World Trade Organization rules so some difficulty with trading partners is expected.

NRA’s Communications Committee addressed the need to educate others on the rendering industry through a video, continuous press releases, and alliances with other agriculture organizations such as the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, World Wildlife Fund, the Grandin Foundation, Farm Animal Welfare Network, and even a few environmental groups since rendering is a “green” industry. The committee will investigate options and costs and make a decision at a future date on how best to move forward.

Robert Vogler, Valley Proteins, chaired the Environmental Committee meeting and provided an update on a wide variety of rules and standards that could affect renderers. The “tailoring rule” sets forth the scope and timetable for the applicability of greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations to different sources. Beginning July 1, 2011, all sources capable of emitting 100,000 tons per year of GHGs are subject to Title V permitting, and modifications increasing GHGs by 75,000 tons per year will be subject to prevention of significant deterioration, or PSD, permitting, which requires the use of best available control technology that, for GHGs, is fuel switching or energy conservation.

Vogler also discussed other Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) activities, including burning fat as fuel under new solid waste regulations (see page 29); boilers that burn liquid fuels required to use maximum achievable control technology; stormwater and spill prevention, control, and countermeasure plans; and a clean water guidance document issued at the end of April that extends EPA’s jurisdiction on waterways to include ponds on private property. He said enforcement is a high priority at EPA as is rulemaking, but that Congress is currently conducting oversight hearings on EPA’s escalated activities.

Biofuels Committee Chairman Chuck Neece, FUMPA Biofuels, touched on the various tax schemes currently in place throughout the United States to encourage the use of biodiesel, from local tax abatements to retailer subsidies at blender pumps. Todd Moser, Rothsay, recapped Canada’s federal program that mandates the use of two percent biodiesel in petroleum diesel beginning July 2011, creating a yearly 15 million gallon market. Several provinces also have mandates, such as British Columbia’s two percent blend.

“Since 2006, there has been some fairly steady progress in Canada, but not a lot of domestically produced biodiesel is being consumed in Canada,” Moser disclosed. “Biodiesel follows the money – it’s exported to the United States to take advantage of credits after taking advantage of Canadian credits.”

Grease theft was the topic of discussion among the Legislative Committee, where it was disclosed that most states do not have specific laws relating to the theft of used cooking oil. Currently, California, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, and Virginia have grease theft laws in place with bills pending in Oklahoma and Rhode Island. Many renderers believe state manifests will help with the problem; currently Illinois and California have manifests for trap grease only, but California is expanding its manifest to include inedible kitchen grease. The committee agreed to develop a model state law that NRA members can take to their individual states for possible development.

Michael Koewler, Sacramento Rendering, informed the committee about a push by California’s waste disposal industry to include meat scraps from retailers in their collection of organic material, which currently is comprised of vegetable products. California’s renderers are keeping a close eye on the initiative and if necessary, will educate lawmakers on the biosecurity concerns of the proposal.

At the NRA Board of Directors meeting, Koewler presented on behalf of the Pacific Coast Renderers Association a $21,000 check to the IMDC and $17,000 to the Fats and Proteins Research Foundation (FPRF). Vogler then presented to FPRF a $10,000 donation from the Eastern Region Renderers Association.

Research Facing Challenges As Well
FPRF held its Research Committee and Board of Directors meetings in conjunction with NRA’s gathering. Chairman Carl Wintzer, G.A. Wintzer and Son Company, reported that the foundation had a record financial year in 2010 thanks to higher rendered product prices and campaign efforts by previous chairman Gerald (J.J.) Smith, Valley Proteins, and FPRF President Dr. Sergio Nates. Wintzer remarked he sees opportunities in secondary protein products from wastewater, of which a research project is being conducted at Clemson University’s Animal Co-Products Research and Education Center (ACREC).

Nates informed members that currently there are only two ongoing at-large projects that will be completed in April 2012, and that no other at-large projects have been proposed to FPRF, something of concern to the foundation. Although several projects are being conducted at ACREC, the second three-year contract is due to expire June 2012 and members were divided about whether to renew the contract. Smith reminded attendees that at the beginning of the partnership with Clemson five years ago, 60 percent of research funds invested were earmarked toward finding new uses for rendered products that were not feed related due to concerns over possible more stringent government regulations due to BSE. Since those fears never were realized, projects focusing on biosecurity and other new uses have been performed. As part of the debate whether to renew the contract, it was noted that FPRF directs the research at ACREC so perhaps the industry hasn’t done a well enough job communicating its research needs.

In defense of ACREC, Meeker highlighted an incident last summer when the egg contamination episode broke where APPI was able to get an interim report from a Clemson researcher who was working on a Salmonella project. He was able to use the research data when conducting media interviews to assure the public that rendered products were safe and not the cause of the contaminated eggs.

After much debate, it was ultimately voted on not to renew the contract with Clemson.

NRA and FPRF will hold their fall meetings jointly October 17-21, in Tucson. AZ.

June 2011 RENDER | back