Disposal Of Animal Carcasses And The Use Of Animal By-Products

EU - Following an article in today's London Times newspaper ('Food safety fears over animals fed to animals'), the EESC released the following statement.
calendar icon 5 June 2007
clock icon 4 minute read
At its 429th plenary session, held on 14 September 2006, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) adopted an own-initiative opinion on the disposal of animal carcasses and the use of animal by-products by 115 votes to 32 with 16 abstentions. The rapporteur was Ms Maria Luisa Santiago, from Portugal, representing the employers' group.


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

In 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 livestock,
  • focusing on the economic implications;
  • but while also giving all due importance to the protection of animal and human health.
The own-initiative 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 consumption.

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 poultry. Rather, as stated in point 1.2 of the opinion:

"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 traceable".

In order to avoid any misunderstandings the following should be underlined:

  • The Committee Opinion does not talk about cows - only about non-ruminants;
  • 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 TSE.


"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".


"The EESC recommends promoting research into systems - if possible, energy-producing systems - for processing all farm by-products and waste, with a view to standardising production methods, whilst protecting the environment in the short and medium term, ensuring the economic balance of farms and safeguarding the health safety of the livestock and the health of the farmers themselves."

Safety standards Europe vs Third countries:

Safety standards for food production are much higher in Europe than in third countries, but they do guarantee food safety for consumers, environmental protection and animal welfare. Maintaining these standards, with the higher production costs that they entail, will only be possible if production continues in Europe


"The current trend in business is for an open global market, where the only law is that of supply and demand. We in Europe, however, have been the victims of a terrible distortion of competition, because various technical and scientific decisions have resulted in political stances that make our production costs significantly higher than in third countries"

To read previous news on this storyline, click here.
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