News 678 views update:May 14, 2008

Debate and uncertainly surrounds animal feed rules

Pig and poultry farmers are not sure if they want an opportunity to cut costs which could be coming their way, reports Yorkshire Post.

The EU is preparing to allow the remains of pig carcasses to be used in poultry feed, which would save UK farmers millions of pounds as cereal prices soar. This, however, has caused uproar.
The practice of using pig remains in chicken feed was banned in Europe after the BSE crisis 10 years ago.
Enormous reaction
It has been reported that when the BBC's Farming Today programme reported on one of the possibilities which are now up for discussion again - feeding pig leftovers to hens - the reaction was enormous.
Reportedly, moderate vegetarians said they could not eat eggs from birds fed on meat. Additionally, a spokesperson for 2 mln Muslims in Britain (and 25 million in western Europe) said they could not eat the eggs or the flesh of any bird fed on animal protein of any kind - and it would only make it worse if it was pork.
Some halal butchers once had special sources for suitable chickens and eggs, up until BSE exposed modern farming practices, reports the Yorkshire Post. Now they are good customers for mainstream farm production. However, a change back to the old ways would put them on the spot. And they are not the only customers who might be lost. Most people were horrified to find out about the recycling of slaughterhouse waste to farms before BSE. And a lot of hostility to the practice remains.
More lost than gained
A Yorkshire pig farmer commented this week: "Pigs are omnivores. If you buy pig-meat from outside the EU, it has almost certainly been fed with meat. And it probably makes scientific and economic sense for us to do it. But the danger is that we would lose more than we gained, because of the public reaction."
A poultry farmer said much the same about hens.
The jury is still out
According to the National Farmers Union, "We want a level playing field for our members to operate efficiently and competitively. However, the jury is still out. We definitely don't want to turn out products consumers don't want."
The BBC said new rules could apply by the end of this year but that looks unlikely. The EC's Standing Committee on the Food Chain & Animal Health will not consider the issue until it is satisfied that the feed industry has foolproof tests.
The RSPCA's food certification arm, Freedom Food, said it would not approve meat-fed meat. Additionally, the Soil Association said meat-fed meat would not be considered organic.
Related links:
Soil Association

Editor WorldPoultry

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