Outrage at European moves to feed animal remains to chickenshttp://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2008/may/04/foodtech.food
Robin McKie, science editor The Observer, Sunday May 4
The European Union is preparing plans to allow pig remains to be used to feed poultry. The practice - banned in Europe after the BSE crisis 10 years ago - would save farmers millions of pounds as prices of cereal feed for chickens soar, say officials in Brussels.
But the proposal has outraged animal rights campaigners, Muslim organisations and other groups. They claim the move would put families at risk, offend religious sensibilities and lead to a major consumer backlash.
'There are two million Muslims in Britain and 25 million in Europe and this move would be a disaster for every one of them,' said Dr Abdel Majid-Katme of the Islamic Medical Association. 'This is a sinful idea.' The RSPCA said it had major concerns about the health risks involved, while agriculture experts warned that many consumers would be offended by the idea of a return to the use of animal remains in farm feeds. 'I think there will be such a backlash from consumers that the idea would have to be dropped,' said Tom Acamovic, a nutrition expert based at the Scottish Agricultural College, in Ayr.
His view was backed by supermarket managers. 'Waitrose would not condone this or use feed with animal by-products in our poultry supply chain,' said a spokesman.
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said it would back the move only if proper safety tests were introduced. 'We understand the European Commission will be submitting a proposal later this year,' said a spokesman. 'We would only support it if we were fully satisfied that appropriate and effective testing had taken place to control the use of such proteins in poultry feed.' He added that an EU project looking at testing methods was due for completion in 2009.
In 1994, at the height of the BSE crisis, the EU banned the use of animal remains for farm feedstuffs but under its transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) road map, published in 2005, outlined proposals that in future some bans might be relaxed. Since then costs of cereals - the basis of poultry feed throughout Europe - have risen dramatically. The EU proposal to mix pig remains with cereals and use them for feeding chickens is linked to these price rises.
Only poultry feed would be exempt from the current ban on the use of animal remains. Chickens are omnivores that eat both vegetation and meat, usually by pecking for worms, officials point out. The practice of feeding the remains of ruminants, mostly cows and sheep, to other ruminants - a process linked to the spread of BSE (mad cow disease) - would still be outlawed.
The proposal was backed by Philip Comer, of DNV Consulting, a former risk assessment adviser for the Food Standards Agency. 'The by-products of slaughter are a very valuable source of protein,' he said. 'We should not be wasting it.'