Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Mounting pressure prompts PAPs rethink

Strict rules on the use of processed animal proteins (PAPs) introduced in 2001 to combat Transmissable Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE) could soon be reviewed.

With growing pressure on the European Commission from the agriculture sector to consider a possible reintroduction of PAPs in animal feed, MEPs have thrown their support behind the proposals.

Of course the devastating effects of TSE and BSE are still hauntingly vivid for all in the industry. This led to the 2001 introduction of EU control measures to combat the spread of BSE. These measures included a ban on the feeding of processed animal proteins to animals kept, fattened or bred for the production of food. Effectively, don’t feed animal protein to other animals to prevent any spread of the disease.

Efforts to combat TSE by the EU have been successful, but the EU protein deficit and constant increase in feed prices have prompted increasing calls for a review of the rules. MEPs have clearly been listening and their decision has largely been welcomed, with some claiming it to be a useful step in unwinding TSE regulations.

The Commission’s TSE Roadmap 2 strategy paper has set out proposals which would allow pig and poultry protein to be used in animal feed. It would allow pigs to be fed poultry protein and poultry to be fed pig protein. Importantly though, bans on protein from cattle and sheep in animal feed and on protein being fed to animals of the same species would remain in force.

Understandably, the issue remains sensitive and highly emotive both within the industry and among consumers. If a decision is made to reintroduce pig and poultry protein in animal feed it is unlikely to come into force until the latter part of 2012. In July the European Parliament adopted a non-legislative resolution supporting the gradual lift of the ban on feeding animal protein to non-ruminants, provided further safeguards are put in place. These safeguards include stipulating that the processed animal proteins must come from species not linked to TSE and may be fed only to non-herbivores. It has also stressed that only PAPs fit for human consumption should be used.

Consumer confidence will no doubt be key to the success of any amendments to the current legislation and potential future developments. It remains of paramount importance that exceptional animal and public health standards must be maintained to help ensure that all of the hard work carried out to combat TSE is not undone. As such, caution will be the watchword with regards to any changes to the status quo.