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Brussels, 6 May 2004

Questions and Answers on animal by-products

What are animal by-products?

Animal by-products are the parts of a slaughtered animal that are not directly consumed by humans, including dead on farm animals and catering waste (i.e. waste food originating from restaurants, catering facilities and kitchens) that contains or has been in contact with meat products, whether cooked or uncooked. Some of these products are used in animal proteins like meat-and-bone-meal, fats, gelatine, collagen, petfood and other technical products, such as glue, leathers, soaps, fertilisers etc. The alternative is their destruction, most often by incineration.

What quantity of animal by-products are we talking about?

It has been estimated that humans directly consume only 68% of a chicken, 62% of a pig, 54% of a bovine animal and 52% of a sheep or goat. Therefore, every year, more than 10 million tons of meat not destined for direct human consumption derived from healthy animals are produced in the EU. This material is then transformed in a variety of products used in human food, animal feed, cosmetic, pharmaceutical and other technical use. For example:

  • Bones, skin and connective tissue such as tendons are used for the production of gelatine which is then used in human food (desserts, gummed candies, marshmallow and prepared meat products), animal feed (coats of vitamins, binders of feed pellet and dogchews), pharmaceutical (hard and soft capsules) and technical use (in the photographic industry for paper coating and as a component in silver halide emulsion coatings, etc).

  • Mixture of bones, meat trimmings and offals are rendered into fats and into animal proteins which are then used in human food, animal feed, cosmetic, pharmaceutical and technical products.

  • Offals and meat trimmings are used as fresh raw material in petfood and pharmaceuticals or, following strict heat treatment (e.g. 133°C for 20 minutes at 3 bars of pressure) in animal feed.

How are animal by-products regulated on EU level?

The new Regulation¹ on animal by-products as adopted by the European Parliament and the Council applies as of 1 May 2003. It aims to integrate the animal by-products sector into the "farm to table" approach for food safety as set out in the White Paper on Food Safety adopted in January 2000. It introduces stringent conditions throughout the food and feed chains requiring safe collection, transport, storage, handling, processing, uses and disposal of animal by-products.

It sets up a completely new approach. In the past, raw material of a lower health standard than the one used for human food were permitted for use in animal feeds. For example, animals that died on farm and were unfit for human consumption could enter the animal feed chain. This practice of recycling cadavers and material unfit for human consumption into the feed chain was the main factor in the spreading of the BSE epidemic, but also of other food scandals, such as the dioxin crises and foot and mouth disease. This practice is now prohibited.

    Classification in categories

The Regulation classifies animal by-products into three categories based on their potential risk to animals, the public or to the environment, and sets out how each category must or may be disposed of.

Category 1 materials (i.e. animal by-products presenting highest risk such as TSEs or scrapie, residues of prohibited substance e.g. hormone used for growth promotion or environmental contaminants e.g. dioxins, PCBs) must be completely disposed of as waste by incineration or landfill after appropriate heat treatment.

Category 2 materials include animal by-products presenting a risk of contamination with other animal diseases (e.g. animals which die on farm or are killed in the context of disease control measures on farm or at risk of residues of veterinary drugs), and may be recycled for uses other than feeds after appropriate treatment (e.g. biogas, composting, oleo-chemical products, etc).

Only category 3 materials (i.e. by-products derived from healthy animals slaughtered for human consumption) may be used in the production of feeds following appropriate treatment in approved processing plants.

The Regulation also requires reliable traceability and identification systems of marking for certain materials intended for specific disposal options (e.g. incineration of meat and bone meal) to avoid possible frauds or risk of diversion of unauthorised products into food and feed.

    Intra-species recycling (cannibalism) ban

The Regulation extends the current ruminant intra-species recycling (cannibalism) ban to other species. Porcine animal by-products cannot be fed to pigs and poultry animal by-products cannot be fed to poultry. However, derogation is provided for in the case of fish and fur animals subject to strict controls by the competent authority.

    Catering waste

While the uses of catering waste in feed for pigs and poultry is not the focus of the Regulation, it is of major concern to nearly all Member States. Hence the Member States agreed last year on a total ban on such feeding practices ("swill feeding to pigs, i.e. liquid feed") in the revised Council Directive on Swine Fever. Such uses of former foodstuffs and restaurant kitchen waste containing meat products were at the origin of a number of major animal disease epidemics including the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in the UK recently, which have led to enormous losses to the farming and non-farming community.

The three EU institutions agree on the ban on intra-species re-cycling (cannibalism). Because catering waste fed to pigs may contain porcine material, catering waste feeding will be inconsistent with the ban on cannibalism. It is also not possible to establish clear traceability for catering waste.

The adopted Regulation is flexible, permitting a temporary relaxation of the ban on the use of category 3 catering waste in feed. This relaxation will last for a period of not more than 4 years for Austria and Germany (see IP/03/553).

How do Member States dispose of animal by-products?

Based on data provided by each Member State, the Commission issued a paper on 20 November 2001 giving a snapshot of the situation on the disposal, processing and uses of animal by-products across the Community. The paper covers:

  • Processing and disposal routes;

  • Trade/export of processed animal protein and rendered fat;

  • Collection, transport and rendering costs;

  • Storage capacity for rendered products and costs;

  • Incineration, co-incineration and small on-farm incineration;

  • Burial and/or landfill;

  • Biogas;

  • Composting and use of processed animal protein as fertiliser; and

  • Disposal capacity.

See also MEMO/01/378 for more details.

How does the new approach deal with processed animal proteins such as meat and bone meal?

Animal by-products are used to produce meat and bone meal. The Regulation does not affect the current EU total ban on the feeding of meat and bone meal to farmed animals, which is a separate issue and remains in force without any date set to terminate it. However, the Regulation establishes clear safety rules for the production of meat and bone meal in case it is ever re-authorised for inclusion in feed for certain non-ruminant species, e.g. poultry and pigs.

The new Regulation on animal by-products requires that only animal by-products derived from animals fit for human consumption (category 3) may be used for animal feed. In other words, the same health standards required by EU legislation for human food will be required for animal feed.

In order to guarantee that animal by-products derived from animals unfit for human consumption cannot enter the human food or animal feed chain, the following requirements have been introduced:

  • complete separation during collection, transport, storage, handling and processing of animal waste not intended for animal feed or human food;

  • complete separation of plants dedicated to feed production from plants processing other animal waste destined to destruction;

  • stricter rules for traceability of animal by-products, including the control of movements of BSE specified risk material by a record keeping system and accompanying documents or health certificates, and visual markers for animal proteins and fats intended for destruction.

In practice, food and feed products cannot be derived from BSE suspects, specified risk materials (SRM) or animals slaughtered over thirty months of age not submitted to a BSE rapid test. All the potentially infected material in these categories is destroyed, eliminating any prospect of it entering the food or feed chain.

Will these controls work and will they be respected?

The Regulation introduces a set of controls, which are as strict as the control established for the food industry. Furthermore, the use of markers for the identification of material unfit for human or animal consumption and the availability of new tests for the detection of prohibited ingredients in animal feed will provide practical instruments for an effective control.

Unfortunately, the possibility of a criminal act can never be ruled out. This applies to the animal feed sector as well as to any other sector such as the food industry. But it lies within the competence of Member States to ensure that the penalties for any non-compliance are sufficiently strict to ensure respect of the Regulation.

What has the Commission done since the adoption of the Regulation in October 2002?

The Commission prepared a series of transitional and permanent implementing measures in order to prepare for and facilitate a swift application of the Regulation on 1 May 2003.

    The temporary transitional measures cover

    • Feeding catering waste (swill feeding) to animals (Austria, Germany)

    • Feeding used cooking oil to animals (Ireland, UK)

    • To avoid cross-contamination, the Regulation requires total separation between plants handling Category 1, 2 and 3 materials. Transitional measures have been agreed for the separation of oleo-chemical plants (Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, UK); the separation of processing plants, dealing with heat treatment of materials (France, Finland); and the separation of intermediate plants, dealing with collection, handling, temporary storage and dispatching (Finland, Italy)

    • Low-capacity incinerators/co-incinerators (Finland, UK)

    • Manure processing standards (Belgium, France, Finland, Netherlands)

    • Composting standards (all Member States)

    • Biogas standards (all Member States)

    • Processing standards for mammalian blood (Germany, Italy, Spain, UK)

    • Collection of wastewater (Austria, Denmark, France, Finland, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden)

    • Collection, transportation and transformation of former foodstuffs (all Member States)

    Import from third countries

    • The application of the third country provisions was postponed until 30 April 2004.

    • Derogation has been granted for the import of photographic gelatine produced from specified risk vertebrae materials from the US and Japan intended for the production of photo films in France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

    • Derogation has been granted until 31 October 2005 for the continued import into the EU of certain products not meeting the requirements of the Regulation concerning the total separation of Categories 1, 2 and 3 processing plants from Australia, Canada, China and US.

    • Derogation has been granted for the import, transit, trade and export of Categories 1 and 2 risk materials (hides and skins, rendered fats, intestines and bones) intended exclusively for technical/industrial uses.

    The implementing measures cover

    • A permanent derogation for the intra-species recycling of wild fish to farmed fish (all Member States)

    • A permanent derogation for intra-species recycling of fur animals (Finland)

    • A permanent derogation for the feeding of endangered/protected species of necrophagous (carrion) birds (France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain)

    • Rules on the burial and burning of animal by-products (all Member States)

    • Rules for low capacity incinerators/co-incinerators (all Member States)

    • The introduction of technical amendments to the Annexes (all Member States)Revised models of import health certificates and repealing of old legislation, which apply on 1 May 2004 (Regulation (EC) No. 668/2004, Official Journal L 112 of 19.42004, pag.1). The new health certificates are adapted to an electronic format, allowing for the speedy transfer of trade documents.

    • Health conditions have been established for new products such as collagen, egg products, tri-calcium phosphate and flavouring innards.

What is next?

The Commission will now focus on preparing further implementing measures, including:

  • Approval of alternative disposal methods

  • Introduction of commercial documents and trade related provisions

  • Identification of markers (dye)

  • Use of organic fertilisers and soil improvers on pastureland and other lands

  • Guidance to clarify the link between the Regulation and environmental legislation.

  • Guidance on applying the Regulation.

  • Other uses of milk and milk-based products.

  • Review of the provisions on fish animal by-products.

  • Clarification on the use of former foodstuffs, for example expired bakery products containing small amounts of eggs and milk.

  • Reporting to the European Parliament and to the Council on the implementation of the animal by-products Regulation in accordance with Article 35.

Are there any implications for third countries?

After a one-year transitional phase-in period, the strict EU rules on animal by-products will also apply to imports as of 1 May 2004. For more information, see the press release from 30 April 2004 specified below. More information

See also the press releases of 22 April 2003 (IP/03/553) and 30 April 2004 (IP/04/588). For more information on the Animal by-products Regulation, including links to the legislation, please refer to the following website:

    ¹Regulation (EC) No 1774/2002 at :

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