WRO's Technical Blueprint Part 1: Operations

By Stephen Woodgate
First Vice President, World Renderers Organization

Editor’s Note – The below article is based on a paper given at the Australian Renderers Association 11th International Symposium in Sydney in July 2011.

One of the major reasons for the foundation of the World Renderers Organization (WRO) was to provide a platform for renderers around the world to communicate with each other, share problems and ideas, and positively advocate the rendering industry as responsible members of society. In particular, it was considered to be a real opportunity to interact with global institutions such as the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), World Health Organization (WHO), and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and to ensure that WRO had access to policy and decision makers. However, as WRO has progressed, it has become clear that more focus was needed to move up to the next level of engagement.

The WRO “blueprint” is the result of this decision. It has been in development for two years and has been discussed at various locations during WRO meetings in that period. This work is of vital importance to the organization as it reaches out to global groups for recognition and attempts to assist developing countries utilize the valuable resources they have.

The blueprint comprises two specific aspects that are interlinked. The technical element is described as “operation” in the sense that it relates to the day-to-day activity of each and every WRO member. There is also a platform described as “application” whereby WRO members interact with other members of the global community. The application part of the blueprint will appear in the December issue of Render.

This article will consider a range of examples to illustrate the areas that WRO considers to be important with regard to the development of a technical blueprint. However, these examples should be considered as non-exhaustive and are not comprehensive.

Raw Materials and Transport
Raw material risk
Globally, there is no real agreement about the definition of animal by-product raw materials and different views are held in several regions regarding the way different materials are characterized. A risk-based approach is taken internationally in Chapter 11.5, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), in the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code. Here the focus is on commodities trade, and the first consideration is the region or zone where the operator is located. According to the code, there are three categories of risk: negligible BSE risk (Article 11.5.3), controlled BSE risk (Article 11.5.4), and undetermined BSE risk (Article 11.5.5).

Negligible risk countries or zones do not have specified risk materials (SRMs), but countries in the latter two risk categories do have a defined list of SRMs from bovines slaughtered for food production. These countries are required to identify and remove SRMs, which are not permitted to be used in human food or rendered products used in animal feeds. One of the main considerations by WRO members is that equivalence prevails if at all possible. In this regard, movement of countries from “undetermined BSE risk” to “controlled BSE risk” and from “controlled BSE risk” to “negligible BSE risk” will be a step in the right direction.

Most animal by-product transport is completed in accordance with national rules. The basic principles of hygiene should apply in that all containers used for animal by-products be leak proof to prevent spillages and cross contamination into the environment. They should also be cleanable to ensure that hygiene standards are maintained. Logistics is important and, in principle, animal by-products should be transported for processing as quickly as possible. Freshness is vital for reducing the environmental impact of processing and producing high quality products.

However, there is an international agreement in the form of a United Nations (UN) regulation in place that is binding on all UN members. This regulation pertains to the transport of dangerous goods and is termed the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road. Essentially it prescribes the type of containment required to transport dangerous materials by trained and authorized transport operators. In some countries it is interpreted that the microbiological contamination of animal by-products effectively means it is “dangerous.” In the European Union (EU), some countries have interpreted this to mean only animal by-products such as carcasses of diseased animals that have died or been slaughtered because of infection with a notifiable disease, such as foot and mouth and avian influenza.

Processing and Safety
Processing systems and standards vary throughout the world so it is very difficult to define meaningful systems that can describe all types of operations. However, describing systems according to some simple criteria may lead to a better understanding.

Systems are generally operated as batch or continuous and may operate at atmospheric pressure, under a vacuum, or at high pressure (up to three atmospheres in some processes in the EU). Thereafter, systems may operate with natural fat and moisture levels, be de-fatted first (wet rendering), or be cooked and dehydrated in a fat rich environment.

From time to time, OIE has given some guidance to various regions of the world on acceptable standards of processing for animal by-products. This has been of particular relevance in recent years especially on the subject of BSE, avian influenza, and anthrax. In this regard, WRO has found it essential to have strong communication channels with OIE as they have, in the past, made recommendations based on insufficient knowledge of the rendering industry. This has the potential to cause severe trade disruption, particularly in the case of attempting to apply EU processing rules to other countries. To facilitate better understanding of rendering activities around the world, WRO has requested a memorandum of understanding with OIE that should result in dialogue before OIE makes public pronouncements on any rendering issue.

Products and Transport
In simple terms, the transport of finished goods is completed in accordance with national or international (in the case of trade) rules. The main practical consideration is that one shipment of materials does not contaminate subsequent loads. This applies whether the shipment is in 25 kilogram bags, in a 25 ton container, or in the hold of a ship of 1,000 tons or more.

There are a variety of contract schemes in place to facilitate the international trade of all goods used for animal feeds or industrial uses and rendered products are usually afforded a special mention. Specifically for rendered products used in animal feeds, Good Practices for the Feed Industry published by FAO contains useful guidance and information. Exports are an important aspect of WRO members’ business and the correct use of customs tariffs is important for many reasons, including having the correct statistical data available for the rendering industry. In this regard, customs tariff codes are an area of concern as there seems to be considerable scope for different interpretations, and harmonizing this area would be of significant use to WRO members.

Products and Nutrition/Non-nutrition
Animal nutrition
WRO members are providers of valuable proteins and fats for farmed animals and aquaculture feed products. Many of the animal nutritional studies using animal by-products around the world have been funded by the Fats and Proteins Research Foundation, whose research inventory spans several decades and many different studies on a wide range of species. Nonetheless, history tells us that advances are always being made and it is therefore important to continue to fund work now as this will help nutritionists maximize the use of rendered products in different feeding systems in the future. Use of rendered products in feed provides desperately needed protein for the feed, livestock, and aquaculture industries. Rendered products have other advantages over alternative feed ingredients, such as availability, flexibility in feed formulations, high nutritional value, digestibility/palatability, high amino acid and phosphorous content, non-genetically modified, and non-competitive with human foods.

WRO members are suppliers to the oleochemical industry that use rendered products to manufacture valuable ingredients for various soaps, paints/varnishes, cosmetics, toothpaste, pharmaceuticals, and lubricants. Renderers are also biofuels providers. While biofuels are greener than petroleum-based diesel, animal fat biodiesel currently offers the most sustainable choice of all because it uses by-products as a feedstock instead of relying on virgin materials. In addition, scientific studies show that animal fat-based biodiesel has significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions. New applications of technology to the processing of animal lipid feedstocks to biodiesel, and a shift to rendered fat as a fuel stock, could be a strong part of making the biodiesel industry a reliable and sustainable fuel source for many economies worldwide. In addition, rendered products have a high calorific value and can be used as an energy substitute in several applications.

Products and Quality
This topic could fill a whole book, nonetheless, some broad principles can be described that will illustrate the way that WRO proposes to advise its members in the future. Due to some gaps in understanding or differences in opinions about quality, there may be good value in establishing a WRO “quality manual” to lay out many of the principles and rationale for specific methods in one document. One example of conflict is sometimes the choice of an appropriate analytical method. Areas that are often the cause of conflict or confusion are fat quality and protein quality/digestibility. These are not the only areas of concern from a quality perspective but serve more as an illustration of topics that could usefully be explored.

Conclusions and Action Plan
The WRO Technical Blueprint is the result of many inputs into the WRO in the last 12 months or more. It has progressed significantly since the concept was firmly established in 2010, but much more is required to finalize the blueprint and this edition should be considered as work in progress.

The operational (technical) aspects have been described in such a way to encourage readers to think about what more should be considered. Particularly important are the areas where there is the possibility of harmonization or agreement between countries or regions. It is important for WRO to work hard on these topics and make progress towards common approaches and agreements.

October 2011 RENDER | back