A new European Commission Regulation (Regulation 56/2013) came into force on 5 February 2013, which reforms the stringent rules on the use of processed animal proteins (PAPS) from non-ruminants (e.g. pigs and poultry) in feed. This Regulation amends the EU Regulation 999/2001 on transmissible sponigorm encephalopathies (TSEs)("TSE Regulation") and is the product of the agreement reached between the Commission and technical experts from the EU Member States in July 2012.

The TSE Regulation was adopted in reaction to the poor control of meat and bone meal in the animal feed chain during the 1980's and 1990's. However, with an ever decreasing risk of TSEs throughout Europe it is recognised that there is now less need for these measures. The result being that, from 1 June 2013 onwards, PAPs from non-ruminants will now be deemed suitable for use specifically in farmed aqua feed only.

Non-ruminant aqua feed

Up until the coming into force of Commission Regulation 56/2013, the TSE Regulation imposed a general ban on the use of PAPs in the feeding of both ruminants (e.g. cattle and sheep) and in non-ruminant animals, including fish and other aquaculture animals. Now, PAPs derived from non-ruminant animals can be used in aqua feed. The production of PAPs themselves is subject to the requirements set out in the EU animal by-products legislation (Regulation 1069/2009, Regulation 142/2011 and Regulation 749/2011). In particular PAPs must only be derived from so-called 'Category 3' animal by-products (e.g. undiseased carcasses and parts of slaughtered animals, including hides, skins, horns and feet), undergo pressure sterilisation and be subject to controlled storage.

The relaxation of rules on PAPs in the feed chain has come about for two principal reasons. First, in 2007, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) adopted scientific opinions which found no TSE risk occuring from the provision of non-ruminant feed to non-ruminant animals, where 'intra-species recycling' (i.e. cannabalism) is avoided. Second, the European Parliament (EP) adopted two resolutions in 2011 which called for reform of the rules on PAPs in animal nutrition. These resolutions were inspired by the deficits in EU protein crop production and the exposure of the EU livestock sector to volatility in global protein feed prices. The EP insisted, however, that any move to overhaul the feed ban be accompanied by specific methods "to identify the species origin of proteins in animal feed containing PAPs so that intra-species recycling and the presence of ruminant PAPs can be excluded".

Control Measures

The new Commission Regulation (Regulation 56/2013) is accompanied by a number of strict measures aimed at avoiding the risk of cross-contamination between ruminant and non-ruminant PAPs and between feed chains intended for different species of farmed animals. This approach is based on the experience gained during the BSE epidemic, when meat and bone meal, initially banned as a feed material for cattle, remained available on the market for non-ruminants and, as a result of weak controls, ended up being fed to bovine animals.

Slaughterhouses and cutting plants supplying animal by-products for PAP-based aqua feed, as well as the PAP plants themselves, may not generally process ruminant animals or by-products (TSE Regulation (as amended)). The competent authorities, such as the Department of Agriculture and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, may derogate from this rule where certain criteria are satisfied, including the segregation of slaughter and processing lines, separate storage and regular sampling and analysis for the detection of ruminant proteins.

Special labelling requirements set down by the TSE Regulation (as amended) also apply. The commercial documentation or health certifications accompanying PAPs for aqua feed must bear the indication: '[contains] processed animal protein derived from non-ruminants – shall not be used for the production of feed for farmed animals except aquaculture animals and fur animals'.

Segregation rules have also been developed for vehicles and containers transporting PAPs for aqua feed and those used for transporting feed materials intended for cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry. Detailed records on the transportation of PAPs for aqua feed must be kept for two years. The same vehicles may only be used for the transportation of both types of feed if cleaning is undertaken in order to avoid the risk of cross-contamination. The cleaning method must be in accordance with a documented procedure approved in advance by competent authorities. In addition, records must be kept for two years detailing the carrying out of any such cleaning.

PAPs in pig and poultry feed

The Commission has noted that while effective DNA tests have been developed to detect even very low levels of any ruminant material in feed, no diagnostic method has been validated to test for non-ruminant material in feed. For this reason, and with the objective of avoiding any risk of intra-species recycling, the Commission has not authorised the use of porcine PAPs in poultry feed or poultry PAPs in pig feed. However, the Commission has suggested that if a diagnostic test for the detection of non-ruminant material is approved in the future by the EU Reference Laboratory for Animal Proteins, this may clear the way for the use of non-ruminant PAPs in the pig and poultry sectors.

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