Select Committee on European Scrutiny Third Report


COM(00) 574

Draft Council Regulation laying down the health rules concerning animal by-products not intended for human consumption.

COM(00) 573

Draft Council Directive amending Council Directives 90/425/EEC and 92/118/EEC as regards health requirements for animal by-products.

Legal base: Article 152(4)(b) EC; co-decision; qualified majority voting
Documents originated: 19 October 2000
Forwarded to the Council: 19 October 2000
Deposited in Parliament: (a) 9 November 2000
(b) 13 November 2000
Department: Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
Basis of consideration: EM of 27 November 2000
Previous Committee Report: None
To be discussed in Council: Following receipt of European Parliament opinion
Committee's assessment: Politically important
Committee's decision: For debate in European Standing Committee A (see paragraph 2.14 below)


  2.1  The main Community rules governing the disposal and processing of animal by-products (animal carcases, parts of animal carcases, and products of animal origin not intended for human consumption) are set out in Council Directive 90/667/EEC.[12] This classifies such by-products into two categories — "high risk" (fallen stock and diseased animals) and "low risk" (material fit for human consumption, but not used for that purpose). Such material must be processed in an approved plant, though, in certain restricted circumstances, for example when the transport of material would present a health risk, burial or burning in open air is also permitted. Where an animal has not been slaughtered as a result of disease, permitted disposal routes include rendering or feeding to zoo, circus or fur animals, recognised packs of hounds, or maggots farmed for fishing bait, whilst low- risk material may also be used to produce petfood or pharmaceutical or technical products.

  2.2  In addition, Council Directive 92/118/EEC[13] (also known as the Balai Directive) lays down rules for the import into the Community, and trade within it, of unprocessed animal by-products, and products derived from such by-products (such as petfood, hides and skins, and blood products).

  2.3  More recently, a number of further measures have been taken in response to the BSE situation within the Community.[14] These include a Community-wide ban since mid-1994 on the feeding to ruminants of protein derived from mammalian tissues; a requirement since 1 April 1997 that, with certain exceptions, mammalian animal waste must be processed according to the minimum parameters needed to inactivate the scrapie and BSE agents, and guaranteed not to enter the food or feed chain; and the need since 1 October 2000 for Specified Risk Material (SRM) to be removed from the food and feed chain.

  2.4  The Commission has recently reviewed these measures in the light of the experience gained by Member States in implementing them, of wider public concern over the quality of farm feed ingredients, and of the opinions it has received from its Scientific Steering Committee. As a result, it has now put forward in the current document a new Regulation, whose principal aim is to replace Directive 90/667/EEC, and those parts of the Balai Directive which relate to animal products not intended for human consumption. A parallel proposal for a draft Directive would repeal these earlier provisions.

The current proposals

  2.5  In putting forward these proposals, the Commission points out that the vast majority of animal by-products are processed by the rendering industry, and that, of the 16.1 million tonnes of animal material handled by the European rendering industry in 1998, 1.8 million tonnes was represented by dead animals or other condemned animal material. The proposed Regulation therefore establishes the exclusion of such animals or material from the feed chain.

  2.6  The Commission suggests that this would further reduce the risk of disease transmission and of unacceptably high concentrations of chemical residues in animal feed; meet ethical objections to the feeding of animal material to other animals; restore consumer confidence; and provide more clarity for the animal by-product industry. However, it also recognises that the economic impact of such an approach would mainly be borne by farmers; that there could be a higher level of on-farm burial, with possible environmental problems; that, because of the current lack of capacity to process and dispose of the excluded materials, some of the alternative ways of disposal of this material are environmentally harmful, costly or impossible; and that the exclusion might be considered trade-restrictive by third countries, which could challenge the Community within the World Trade Organisation.

  2.7  The proposal would, therefore, also make a number of detailed changes, of which the most important would:

  • introduce three categories of animal by-product;

  • prevent meat and bone meal and tallow derived from category 1 and 2 ("high risk") animal by-products from being used in livestock feed;

  • introduce alternative ways of using animal by-products (for example, biogas and composting/fertiliser plants), as an alternative to disposal by incineration or landfill;

  • establish transport conditions, documentation and record-keeping requirements for both unprocessed and processed animal by-products; and

  • introduce greater control of premises on which animal by-products are processed or disposed of, and on ways in which the processed material is used or disposed of.

  2.8  The key provision would be the designation of the following three categories of material, together with the ways in which each should be treated. Thus:

  • Category 1 material would include pet animals, zoo animals, animals suffering from TSEs, Specified Risk Material (SRM), ruminant carcases which contain SRM, and carcases which contain the residues of prohibited substances.

    No material in this category could be used for any purpose. Burial of pets would be permitted, but the burial of other animal by-products (such as ruminant animals which die on farm) would be prohibited. Such by-products would have to be disposed of by incineration, or by rendering to the pressure cooking standard (at least 133°C, 3 bar pressure for 20 minutes) followed by landfill.
  • Category 2 material would include other material which is currently considered "high risk", such as carcases of animals with diseases other than BSE.

    Animal by-products in this category could be processed in a rendering plant to produce tallow for subsequent use in an oleochemical plant (for example, to produce tallow derivates), and fish products could be ensiled. Alternatively, the by-products could be rendered to the pressure cooking standard, and then used as fertiliser or in a biogas or composting plant. Otherwise, the by-products would have no use, and would have to be disposed of. Burial of pig, poultry and fish material would be permitted only in very restricted circumstances.
  • Category 3 material would be "low risk", and essentially that fit for human consumption.

    It could be used for the production of pet food or technical products, or in biogas or composting plant, or rendered for use in feedingstuffs and fertilisers. Burial would not be permitted.

  2.9  According to the Commission, the new Regulation would guarantee (i) a clear separation during collection and transport of the different categories of animal by-products; (ii) the traceability of the different categories of by-products; (iii) the clear separation of establishments storing and/or processing the different categories; and (iv) a reliable system for the identification and registration of the final products. It would also remove a current uncertainty by establishing that any animal by-products consigned for disposal (by landfill, burial or incineration) are treated in accordance with the Framework Directive on Waste (74/442/EEC).

  2.10  The provisions on trade in, and imports of, raw and unprocessed animal by-products would remain largely unchanged from those in the Balai Directive. However, whilst products intended for human consumption would continue to be controlled by that Directive, products which are not intended for human consumption would in future be dealt with in the new Regulation. The second of these two documents would, therefore, amend the Balai Directive to delete all requirements relating to products not intended for human consumption.

The Government's view

  2.11  In her Explanatory Memorandum of 27 November 2000, the Minister of State (Lords) at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman) says that the proposals would, in some respects, bring Community law into line with that already in place in the UK, and that the Commission considers the proposals are necessary to retain public confidence in the livestock sector, and to prevent the introduction of any, as yet, unknown pathogens. However, she adds that, in other respects, the controls would go beyond those applying in the UK, and that, although the Government supports the aim of protecting animal and public health, it is concerned that controls on animal by-products should have a sound scientific basis and be proportionate to the risk they are designed to address.

  2.12  She says that the key issues for the UK are that:

  • although it accepts the principle that animal by-products should be categorised, it is concerned to ensure that this does not unnecessarily restrict the disposal outlets for certain types of products which present no risk to human or animal health. For example, she suggests there is no reason to exclude the use of SRM in technical products, provided there are controls in place to ensure that these cannot be diverted into food or feed;

  • it agrees with the pressure cooking of category 1 material if it is to be disposed to landfill;

  • it supports the proposal to ban the use in animal feedingstuffs of meat and bone meal derived from category 1 and 2 mammalian by-products and category 1 poultry and fish by-products, and it is investigating the extent to which category 2 poultry and fish by-products are used in livestock feedingstuffs before taking a view on whether this practice should cease;

  • the Commission has proposed that the processing standards for mammalian material would be much lower if it was to be treated in a rendering plant (where the pressure cooking standard would apply) than in a biogas or composting plant. The UK takes the view that all mammalian material should be pressure cooked, and that, if composting and biogas plants are to be allowed to process such material, there should be sufficient controls in place to prevent any risk to human or animal health;

  • whilst the proposal would permit burial only in very limited circumstances for category 2 pig, poultry or fish material, the UK believes that a ban in all circumstances would not be practicable. It has therefore pressed for a derogation, for example in remote areas (where compliance would be extremely difficult) or emergency disease situations (where transporting the carcases would spread disease);

  • although the Commission agreed in negotiations on the Waste Incineration Directive that environmental standards for animal carcase incinerators and pet crematoria should be excluded from that measure and brought forward in the current proposal, such standards have not been included in the current draft;

  • the proposal seeks — largely successfully, in the view of the Government — to resolve the current confusion over the borderlines between Directive 90/667/EEC and the Framework Directive on Waste, and whether the provisions of the first of these are always sufficient to cover the disposal or recovery operation; and

  • manure and gut contents from mammalian animals would be controlled if they were to be used in a biogas or composting plant, traded between Member States, or imported from third countries, and there is a suggestion that they would also be controlled within the Member State of origin if they were suspected of being capable of spreading a serious transmissible disease. Although virtually all manure could be considered to fall into this category, the Government believes that the Commission intends to control it in a notifiable disease situation, and, as it considers this would have an extremely serious impact on the farming industry, it will press the Commission for clarification (and, if necessary, seek to ensure that controls on the spreading of manure are not included in the Regulation).

  2.13  The Minister has also provided a preliminary Regulatory Impact Assessment, which she says will be revised in the light of comments received from the industry. In the meantime, the RIA points out that a number of sectors, the majority involving small businesses, would be affected. These include livestock producers, pharmaceutical plants, slaughterhouses, rendering plants, knackers' yards, petfood manufacturers, hunt kennels, circuses and zoos, and maggot farms. It is thought that non-recurring costs are unlikely to be significant for most premises as they already have the basic infrastructure in place, though such costs could arise for those having to install pressure cooking systems or to upgrade their standards. There would also be recurring costs if poultry and fish material could no longer be used in feedingstuffs, and if certain other material had to be pressure cooked. Depending upon circumstances, the additional cost of installing the necessary pressure cooker capacity could be as high as £50-60 million, whilst the cost of upgrading of premises could amount to some £1.5 million. The total costs of disposing by other means of animals currently buried on farm are not known, but are thought to be around £5 for each sheep and from £50-80 per cow. In addition, the RIA says the Government is likely to face some extra enforcement costs.


  2.14  Though detailed and highly technical, this is clearly an important piece of legislation, both for its human and animal health and environmental implications, and for the impact it will have on the wide range of activities identified in paragraph 2.13 above. These documents are, therefore, ones which we believe should be debated in European Standing Committee A, once the Government has completed its consultation exercise and produced a revised Regulatory Impact Assessment.

  2.15  In the meantime, we think it would be helpful if the Minister could clarify the relationship between what is proposed here, and the various measures which we have considered recently relating to the prevention and control of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs).

12   OJ No. L 363, 27.12.90, p.51. Back

13   OJ No. L 62, 15.3.93, p.49. Back

14   Since the Commission put forward these documents, the Agriculture Council has agreed, at its meetings on 4 and 19 December 2000, measures for the prevention and control of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). See in particular (19751) 5196/99; HC 34-xiii (1998-99), paragraph 2 (17 March 1999) and HC 23-xxxi (1999-2000), paragraph 1 (29 November 2000). Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 6 February 2001