Proposed EU law change opens up possible reintroduction of pig and poultry protein in feed

The reintroduction of Processed Animal Protein (PAP) in pig and poultry feed could help the farming industry meet its net zero goals, but some significant barriers will need to be overcome if it is to be permitted in the UK, according to the NPA. 

The European Commission recently backed a change to EU law to re-authorise the use of poultry, pig and insect protein in animal feed.

The proposed amendment would allow Processed Animal Proteins (PAP) from pigs to be fed to poultry and vice versa. It would also pave the way for insect protein to be included in animal feed, as well as re-authorising the use of ruminant collagen and gelatine.

The change was backed overwhelmingly by member state representatives on the Commission’s Biological Safety of the Food Chain committee, with 25 in favour and two abstentions.

The backing of the EU Parliament and the Council of Ministers will be required before the new regulation comes into force – they will up to four months to examine the draft measure and raise possible objections to it – but new legislation could potentially be in place at EU level this year.

The inclusion of animal products in animal feed was banned more than 20 years ago in the wake of the BSE crisis, but the drivers for its re-introduction include the need to reduce the European farming’s reliance on soya from South America as its primary protein source.

The potential change to animal by-product regulations was welcomed by the European Fat Processors and Renderers Association (EFPRA), which it  could make a ‘valuable contribution to creating a circular economy and the European Green Deal’.

“The European processors of animal by-products are able to produce safe, healthy and sustainable proteins (PAPs) for animal feed through numerous innovations and the development of quality control systems. A wide range of by-products has been used in recent decades for, among other things, aqua feed and for pets such as dogs and cats,” it said.

If the EU law did change, some key practical barriers would need to be overcome, including strict rules to avoid cross-contamination in feed mills, while there could be resistance from politicians and the public due to food safety concerns and the legacy of BSE.

It also remains to be seen whether the UK would follow suit. A change to the law would not only provide alternative protein sources but would also open up new outlets for parts of the pig not used for human consumption.

NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said the association would support the inclusions of PAPs in the UK, as the move could ‘significantly reduce our reliance on soya and contribute to farming’s net zero goals’, although she acknowledged the barriers regarding production and consumer acceptance could ultimately limit uptake.

“Defra will also need to consider its policy on imports if we do not allow it and the EU does,” she said.

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Editor of LBM titles Pig World and Farm Business and group editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer. National Pig Association's webmaster. Previously political editor at Farmers Guardian for many years and also worked Farmers Weekly. Occasional farming media pundit. Brought up on a Leicestershire farm, now work from a shed in the garden in Oxfordshire. Big fan of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers. Occasional cricketer.