EU to lift ban on animal by-products for livestock food

30 June 2021 by

Over ten years ago I posted on the wasteful prohibition under the EU Animal By-Product Regulation on feeding meat and bone meal – waste from slaughterhouses – to omnivorous farm animals, poultry and pigs. See Pigswill and public health: a load of EU Bull, 7 January 2011. While this regulation has been in force the protein needed by these fast growing animals has had to come from expensive soybeans, imported from South America where hundreds of miles of rainforests have been laid waste to make room for the soy crop. As you will remember from that post, the ban was introduced following the BSE crisis, itself a possibly predictable consequence of feeding spinal tissue to vegetarian ruminants.

This ban extended to anyone feeding food scraps to farmed animals, no matter how small the operation and how innocent the scraps. As I said in my last post,

Anyone with a few hens pecking away in the backyard needs to look sharp: a “farmed animal” for the purpose of the Regulation means any animal kept for the provision of food, and a couple of eggs a week may bring a Defra van trundling up the drive at any moment.

And in 2004 our very own Prime Minister, then MP for Henley, reported that in his constituency a hotel

must now pay an extra £1,000 a year to a licensed collector, whose responsibility it is to remove wet waste that previously went to a pigswill feeder. Given that there is room for only three years’ waste in our landfill sites, that is not the cleanest and greenest solution. It is estimated that the ban on swill feeding is generating an extra 1.7 million tonnes of waste per year, and that which does not fill up our landfill sites must be going down our drains, clogging up the sewers and attracting vermin

Finally it seems to have dawned on the EU Commission that this is a very un-green piece of legislation in an era where the EU obliges its member states by draconian legislation to recycle, limit landfill, restrict incineration, cut down on carbon emissions and save energy. 

The Commission announced recently that

Allowing processed animal protein feed for pigs and poultry, barred since BSE crisis, will address non-EU competition

The European Commission informed MEPs, in a note quoted by the Guardian, that there was no health risk from allowing processed animal protein (PAP) from pigs and insects to be fed to poultry, the feeding of pigs with chicken PAP, or the use of gelatine and collagen from sheep and cattle being fed to other farmed animals.The draft Commission Regulation amending Annex IV to Regulation (EC) No 999/2001 comes into force in August. Of course the ban on these by-products being fed to herbivores will continue in force.

Whether Defra will respond by removing the retained regulations banning the use of PAPs in livestock feed remains to be seen. The UK campaign against the ban, The Pig Idea, which has been working for years to persuade the authorities to allow the feeding of surplus food that is no longer fit for human consumption to pigs and chickens, in order to spare land in the Amazon. Their research reveals that

a change of law could liberate up to 2.5 million tonnes of currently wasted food from the UK’s manufacturing, retail and catering sectors to be fed to pigs – 20% of the UK’s estimated food waste.

Let us hope that Defra will take note of the EU’s move and follow suit.

2 comments


  1. englishman1957 says:

    My legal education was largely financed by rearing swill-fed pigs on my mother’s smallholding.

  2. Helen says:

    Absolutely disagree. BSE scrapies and CJD are very real from the offal fed to animals! With over 300,000 cattle culled at the time before the public were informed how can they even consider this madness.

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