Relaxing animal feed ban meets opposition
Proposals to lift the ban on having meat-and-bone-meal
back into livestock rations have resulted in a fierce debate, mainly in the UK
EU experts have said they want the rule
relaxed to allow pig feed to be supplemented with poultry remains and vice
But farming leaders and scientists said that while such a practice
may be safe, it would not be countenanced by the public. Supermarkets have also
stressed that they would not sell meat produced in this way.
ease the seven-year old ban comes from the EU's Economic and Social Committee
(EESC). Minutes from a meeting held by the committee in December say tests have
already shown there is no safety risk from adding pig remains to chicken or
poultry parts to pig feed.
To this end the EU has invested around €1.5
million to develop tests designed to distinguish between different types of
Following an article in the London
Times newspaper ('Food safety fears over animals fed to animals'), the EESC
released a statement to ease the uproar.
Following the BSE-TSE crisis, a
series of restrictive measures were taken in order to combat BSE including an
agreement on a ban of feeding meat-and-bone meal to pigs and poultry, which was
reached by the Council of Ministers. This ban (in place since 1 January 2001)
was to be kept under review.
What the opinion set out to do
the context of this review, this own-initiative opinion by
the Committee on the disposal of animal carcasses and the use of processed
animal proteins in the feeding of livestock:
- looked into the recent scientific evidence concerning the risk of
transmission of BSE-TSE in livestock;
- and discussed the possibility of reducing restrictions that concern the
production and use of processed animal proteins including meat-and-bone meal in
- focusing on the economic implications;
but while also giving all due importance to the
protection of animal and human health.
opinion was intended to ensure an appropriate follow-up to previous initiatives
by the Committee on animal by-products and the BSE-TSE risk, and provided an
opportunity to update an Opinion adopted by the Committee in 2001 on health
rules concerning animal by-products not intended for human
The most important conclusions
The Committee did
not and does not ask to lift the ban of feeding meat-and-bone meal to pigs and
"The EESC suggests that the European Commission pursue and step
up as swiftly as possible the studies currently under way which clearly show
that the use of meat meal from non-ruminants can be used in pig and poultry feed
without posing any danger to human health".
"As soon as the current
studies have been completed, by-products from these (healthy) animals, which
have been slaughtered in separate abattoirs, should be used in the production of
meat meal, the protein in which is clearly identifiable and fully
In order to avoid any misunderstandings the following should
be underlined: The Committee Opinion does not talk about cows - only about
The opinion explicitly discusses measures to avoid
cannibalism. According to all available studies, non-ruminants such as pigs and
poultry are not responsible for diseases like BSE and
"The way in which
proteins are identified and the methods used to trace the meat meal in which
they are found must give consumers a cast-iron guarantee that pigs are fed on
meat meal obtained exclusively from the by-products of poultry, and that poultry
is fed on meat meal obtained exclusively from the by-products of pigs".
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