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Brussels, 13 mars 2002

BSE Byrne disappointed by EP position on catering waste delaying adoption of animal waste regulation

Commissioner David Byrne today expressed his disappointment about the position taken by the European Parliament on the proposed regulation on animal waste. In a second reading, the EP voted to adopt a position on catering waste which will mean adoption of the directive is delayed. This Regulation is, after the TSE Regulation adopted last year, the second major component of the Commission strategy to combat and eradicate BSE. It is key to the exclusion of dead animals and other condemned materials from the feed chain, and to the safe processing of the 16 millions of tonnes of animal by-products produced in the Union each year.

David Byrne, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection said : "I am very concerned at any further delay in the adoption of these crucial measures. The continued absence of a sound comprehensive regulatory framework to deal with these by-products is very dangerous. Parliament, Council and Commission are in agreement on the basic principles of the Regulation: only animal by-products derived from animals fit for human consumption will be used in feed, cosmetic and pharmaceutical products; cannibalism will be banned; control and full traceability of animal by-products will be improved.

Under the Regulation on animal by-products not intended for human consumption, only materials derived from animal declared fit for human consumption following veterinary inspection may be used for the production of feeds. It also bans intra-species recycling, so-called "cannibalism". It sets out clear rules on what must and may be done with the excluded animal materials, imposing strict identification and traceability system requiring certain products such as meat and bone meal and fats destined for destruction to be permanently marked to avoid possible fraud and risk of diversion of unauthorised products into food and feed. This, coupled with the introduction of new alternative disposal methods such as biogas, composting and co-incineration, framed in a new transparent, comprehensive and directly applicable legal framework that replaces and simplifies a multitude of scattered directives and decisions which have developed over more that a decade in response to internal market requirements and crisis situation, will enhance the EU's capacity to prevent disease transmission and the risk of presence of residues in animal feed.

The European Parliament today voted a report that, although generally in support of the measures as proposed by the Commission, inconsistently insists on continued use of catering waste in feed for pigs and poultry. Such uses have been at the origin of a number of major animal disease epidemics including the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in the UK last year. The Member States agreed last year on a total ban on such feeding practices in the revised Council Directive on Swine Fever.

There are no indications that they are prepared to change this approach in the regulation now under discussion. A conciliation procedure in therefore inevitable in view of the Parliament's insistence that the practice should be allowed to continue under certain highly controlled conditions.

Catering waste

While catering waste is not the focus of the proposed regulation, it is the major obstacle to final agreement.

The Parliament's report as voted today wants to see catering waste excluded from the strict control rules of the Regulation, in contradiction with a strong wish of nearly all Member States who want to see a Community ban on the swill feeding practice. At the same time the EP demands that the Commission proposes a separate Regulation on the safe disposal of catering waste. Commissioner Byrne rejected amendments to this effect, pointing out that feeding animals with catering waste poses a serious risk of transmission of animal diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease and classical swine fever. For example, last year's outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the UK, which has led to enormous losses to the farming community, is generally assumed to have been caused by swill feeding. The continued feeding of catering waste to pigs would also conflict with the objectives of guaranteeing the quality and full traceability of ingredients in animal feedingstuffs, and with the ban on intra-species re-cycling as agreed between the three EU institutions.

The Commissioner reminded interests that, in the absence of rules on the use of catering waste in the Regulation on animal by-products, a ban on swill feeding will apply from 1 November 2002 onwards as set out in the recently adopted directive on the control of classical swine fever (Directive 2001/89/EC).

Safe disposal of animal-by-products

The European Commission put forward the proposal for a European Parliament and Council Regulation laying down the health rules concerning animal by-products not intended for human consumption in October 2000. The new Regulation aims to integrate the disposal sector into the farm-to-table approach to food safety by introducing strict controls at critical stages of the disposal chain (sorting, storage, transport, processing, handling and uses). In addition to traditional waste disposal outlets such as landfill, burial or incineration, the Regulation provides for two possible waste recycling outlets for unprocessed and processed animal by-products; these being (i) 'waste recovery' (co-incineration in power stations, cement kilns or burning of fat as fuel, use in biogas installations to produce gas and biofertiliser, composting); or (ii) 'placing on the market' (rendering to produce processed animal protein and rendered fats for use in animal feed or fertilisers or in cosmetic or pharmaceutical products, petfoods, etc.)

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