Deciphering Complex EU Regulations

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

The European Fat Processors and Renderers Association (EFPRA) held its 12th Annual General Assembly and Congress in historic Dubrovnik, Croatia, in early June. With more than 300 participants, this congress set a new attendance record.

Besides a technical symposium featuring fantastic speakers, which is covered in an article in this issue of Render, European Union (EU) legislative issues were also addressed, beginning with the animal by-products regulation (ABPR).

The original ABPR, European Commission (EC) No. 1774/2002, has been very complex. Over the years a long series of amendments have been approved, which made the regulation even more complex. Further, the legislation had a “waste” product mentality.

The basic focus of 1774/2002 was the categorization of animal by-products into three categories: category 1 being high risk with regard to transmissible spongiform encephalopathy; category 2 being some risk with regard to other animal diseases; and category 3 being animal by-products from animals fit for slaughter for human consumption.

After a long period of extensive work, a new ABPR, EC No. 1069/2009, was adopted, a simpler but still quite comprehensive legislation with more of a “product” approach. Later, the implementing regulation, EC No. 142/2011, was approved, yet some issues still had to be clarified, mainly to avoid misunderstandings and different interpretation by various EU member states. These amendments were negotiated for the time being, with EFPRA putting forward a long series of proposals for changes to the regulation, which were covered by yet another piece of legislation, EC No. 7188/2011.

EFPRA Technical Director Dr. Martin Alm was pleased to inform members at the general assembly meeting that the Directorate General for Health and Consumers, or DG SANCO, accepted most of the points brought up by EFPRA in the latest revision of 7188/2011. The most important change is that the text will be reworded in a way that all doubts about processed animal proteins to be used as fertilizer are resolved. In the future, method 7 (i.e., a free-chosen process that fulfils some specified microbiological parameters) will be sufficient. Some member states already interpret the current legislation in that way while others stick to method 1 (pressure sterilization).

Another important step in the ABPR is the inclusion of a definition for used cooking oil, which was then deleted for the moment. The now postponed clarification would have guaranteed full traceability along the feed chain and its correct usage. Alm reminded members about the dioxin crisis in Germany in 2011 that was caused by an improper use of fatty acids derived from used cooking oil. This incident harmed the entire feed sector and led to another strict legislation with mandatory dioxin testing schemes. In the discussion on this dioxin testing scheme, Alm repeated that the text clearly indicated that only fats for feed have to be monitored (one test per 2,000 metric tons). Tests are not required for non-feed uses and do not have to be 100 percent tested before release of that batch, referred to as “100 percent release” in the EU. The commission was expected to vote on 7188/2011 in July.

Another piece of EU legislation is the Renewable Energy Directive, which is now implemented in most member states but with a patchwork of interpretation, especially on the issue of “double counting,” a directive promotion scheme to count biofuels from waste and residues twice. A short survey of EU member states showed that category 1 and 2 fats are mostly acknowledged for double counting while category 3 fat is seen as a product. Used cooking oil, even if it is acknowledged as being category 3, also counts twice. Nevertheless, the survey showed some countries have strange interpretations: Germany excludes all animal fats except used cooking oil; Italy and France have a cap on double-counted biofuels; and the United Kingdom excludes category 2 for market reasons, although no market exists.

Regarding the partial lifting of the feed ban, the testing method based on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is now adopted by the EU Reference Laboratory (EURL) in Gembloux, Belgium. However, Dutch renderers, together with the Dutch National Reference Laboratory at the University of Wageningen, have organized an international ring test that is easier to handle than the PCR technique. EURL is involved but is currently awaiting the outcome of this test before reassessing its position. The lab’s concern is getting different test results from the same sample, thus EURL might consider the PCR as the last and final test while others could be accepted as screening tests.

Besides legislative matters, EFPRA also took time to elect a new member to its executive board as Patrick Coelenbier of Saria in France, and the president of the French organization SIFCO, retired July 1. Unanimously elected to the board as a replacement was Jean Louis Hurel, also of Saria and the new president of SIFCO. The EFPRA Executive Board for the next two years (2012-2014) consists of: N.C. Leth Nielsen, Denmark, president; Sjors Beerendonk, The Netherlands, vice president; Alberto Grosso, Italy, vice president; Dirk Dobbelaere, secretary general; and Martin Alm, technical director. Besides Hurel, other board members are Almudena Ortiz, Spain; Harald Niemann, Germany; and Stephen Woodgate, United Kingdom.

EFPRA’s next congress will take place in Prague, Czech Republic, June 12-15, 2013.

August 2012 RENDER | back