Small Steps Forward for European Renderers

By Tina Caparella

The European rendering industry is making small strides in reentering the global marketplace but still has a ways to go as was discussed at the European Fat Processors and Renderers Association (EFPRA) 17th Annual Congress held in early June. A record 400-plus individuals from Europe, the United States, and as far away as Australia attended the two-day event.

One step in the right direction for the industry is the reopening of European ruminant and mixed processed animal proteins (PAPs) exports to third countries beginning July 1, 2017. Dr. Martin Alm, EFPRA technical director, applauded this move after much work was done by the organization. In an effort to convince buyers of the benefits of these PAPs, EFPRA is funding a feeding trial at Wageningen University in the Netherlands focusing on nutrient digestibility, bone quality, and gut health parameters of animal by-products in pigs and poultry. The trial will study the digestibility of pork PAP in poultry and vice versa as well as growth performance, feed intake and conversion, bone characteristics, gut health and morphology, adverse effects, and so on. Trials with poultry will begin this year with pig studies taking place in 2018.

Reiterating food safety and the use of PAPs for the sustainability of Atlantic salmon production was Dr. Marc Berntssen, National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research in Bergen, Norway. The Norwegian aquaculture industry utilized 1.6 million metric tons of feed in 2015, traditionally consisting of fish meal and oil. However, since 1990 more alternative feed ingredients have increasingly replaced fish sources, primarily plant proteins and oils. Yet with the reauthorization of PAPs in European aquaculture feed in June 2013, a four-year project by the Norwegian Research Council concluding later this year is examining the safety of using terrestrial animal by-products in salmon production.

“Twenty percent of ingredients in fish feed in Chile and Canada are PAPs so we know they are beneficial,” Berntssen commented. He presented the project’s findings to date, including the need for an identification test to ensure PAPs do not contain ruminant material, which is prohibited in feed.

“The outcome [of the project] so far is very positive,” Alm stated.

Dr. Olivier Fumière, European Union Reference Laboratory in Gembloux, Belgium, recapped the progression of the gradual lifting of Europe’s feed ban. Currently, fish meal is allowed in pig and poultry feed and in milk replacers for ruminants while non-ruminant PAPs are allowed in aquaculture feed. Polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, assays for pork proteins were validated/implemented in 2015 and validated for poultry in June 2017, big steps toward allowing these PAPs in pig and poultry feed.

“We think we now have all the tools to further lift the ban,” Fumière noted. “But it’s not that easy.” He went on to explain the complex challenges still ahead, including the need for complementary analytic methods to determine the species origin of the PAP and provide evidence of the absence of prohibited ingredients. Another challenge is the analytical developments for insect protein that are already pending, creating increased competition for PAPs.

The future of tallow in biofuels was addressed by Dr. Robert Figgener, ecoMotion in Selm, Germany, as revisions to the European Renewable Energy Directive (RED) beyond its sunset in 2020 are being evaluated. EcoMotion has five biodiesel plants in Europe – four in Germany and one in Spain. Figgener noted that the main driver for biodiesel use is greenhouse gas emissions savings and that the European industry is dependent on support schemes that create an artificial market. Biofuels made from tallow and used cooking oil, or “waste” oils, are double-counted in most European Union (EU) member states under the 10 percent biofuels blending requirement in the RED. In Germany, tallow is excluded from the double-counting mandate due to the thinking that tallow would best be used in other markets so any biodiesel produced with tallow in Germany is exported and not used domestically. According to Figgener, 2.2 million metric tons of used cooking oil-based biodiesel and 500,000 metric tons of tallow-based biodiesel were blended in the EU in 2016.

Proposed amendments for the RED were released in November 2016 and include the phasing out of conventional biofuels, no EU mandate, no double-counting for waste fats and oils, and more focus on “advanced” biofuels made from algae, straw, crude glycerin, animal manure, nut shells, and so on. No decision on the amendments is expected before spring 2018 but EFPRA is currently lobbying to ensure a good outcome for tallow and used cooking oil-based biofuels.

A highlight of the congress’ technical symposium was a presentation by Dr. Frank Mitloehner, University of California at Davis, who discussed similar information on the facts and fiction of livestock and climate change he wrote about in the June 2017 Render. He noted that 40 percent of all food produced in the United States and EU – 50 percent of vegetables and 20 percent of meat – goes to waste.

“Nobody does a better job at recycling than your industry, but no one knows about you,” Mitloehner stated. “Environmentalists and non-governmental organizations are not against animal agriculture, it’s the activists and niche markets [i.e., competition] that are.”

Harald Niemann, Servicegesellschaft Tierische Nebenprodukte mbH, provided an overview of the German rendering industry. There are 20 company members in the German renderers association processing three million metric tons of raw material annually, with more than half from category 3 (animals fit for human consumption) slaughter by-products (1.8 million metric tons in 2016). Of the more than 500,000 metric tons of category 3 PAPs produced, over 400,000 metric tons went to feed, primarily pet food, with the rest going to fertilizer. More than 300,000 metric tons of category 3 animal fats were produced, with around half going to the oleochemical industry, about 105,000 metric tons used for biodiesel, and 65,000 metric tons going to feed. Just over 105,000 metric tons of animal fat from category 1 by-products, which are the highest risk for transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, also went for biodiesel production.

There is a different disposal scheme in Germany for category 1 and 2 animal by-products than in other EU member states. Under federal law, farmers must call renderers for collection of fallen stock while each district in the country is responsible for the collection and processing of animal by-products. However, the laws vary among the many districts in the 16 states in Germany including some using “public” rendering plants operating under a joint authority. There are no administrative restrictions applicable to category 3 and food-grade by-products.

The congress wrapped up with an insightful observation of how long Earth will exist if humans continue to live like they do by Dr. Michael Braungart, founder of the Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency and Cradle to Cradle design concept. He agreed with United States President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the country out of the Paris climate agreement, which Braungart said does not help the environment’s future as it is currently written. He highlighted the 20 most polluted cities in the world, which are primarily in Nigeria and Middle Eastern countries, but warned that oftentimes indoor air can be worse due to trapped particulates from such things as cleaning products, electronic equipment, carpet, and animal dander. Braungart explained the Cradle to Cradle concept as all-encompassing product quality, usefulness, and eco-effectiveness and showed many examples of such innovative new products in paper, textiles, furniture, flooring, and packaging.

“Little changes turn into big changes later,” he remarked. “New innovation takes time so be patient.”

EFPRA’s next congress is June 20-23, 2018, in Barcelona, Spain.

August 2017 RENDER | back