Select Committee on European Scrutiny Eighteenth Report





COM(01) 747

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




COM(01) 748

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

Legal base:Article 152(4)(b) EC; co-decision; qualified majority voting
Documents originated:12 December 2001
Forwarded to the Council:12 December 2001
Deposited in Parliament:23 January 2002
Department:Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Basis of consideration:EM of 4 February 2002
Previous Committee Report:None, but see footnote 58 below
To be discussed in Council:See paragraph 12.14 below
Committee's assessment:Politically important
Committee's decision:Cleared


  12.1  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.[56] This classifies such by-products into "high risk"and "low risk" categories, which (with limited exceptions) must be processed in an approved plant. 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 lower-risk material may also be used to produce petfood or pharmaceutical or technical products.

  12.2  In addition, Council Directive 92/118/EEC[57] (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).

  12.3  Following a review of these measures by the Commission, it has put forward in October 2000 proposals[58] whose principal aim was to replace Directive 90/667/EEC and those parts of the Balai Directive which relate to animal products not intended for human consumption.

  12.4  One of the main effects of the proposals would be to exclude from the feed chain the 1.8 million tonnes of dead animals or other condemned animal material (out of the 16.1 million tonnes of animal material handled by the European rendering industry in 1998). However, the Commission also recognised 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 were 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.

  12.5  The proposal therefore also sought to 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 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.

  12.6  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, and the burial of animal by-products would be prohibited, with disposal being by incineration, or by rendering to the pressure cooking standard[59], 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, or rendered to the pressure cooking standard, and then used as fertiliser or in a biogas or composting plant: otherwise, they would have to be disposed of, and burial 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.

  12.7  According to the Commission, the new Regulation would guarantee (i) a clear separation of the different categories of animal by-products; (ii) the traceability of the different by-products; (iii) the clear separation of establishments storing and/or processing them; 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).

  12.8  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 Balai Directive would therefore be amended to delete all requirements relating to products not intended for human consumption.

  12.9  Our predecessors were told by the Government in an Explanatory Memorandum of 27 November 2000 that the proposals would, in some respects, bring Community law into line with that in the UK, but that, in other respects, they would go beyond current UK practice. Consequently, although the Government supported the aim of protecting animal and public health, it was concerned that controls on animal by-products should have a sound scientific basis and be proportionate to the risk they were designed to address.

  12.10  It identified the key issues for the UK as including:

  • concern that the categorisation of animal by-products should not unnecessarily restrict the disposal outlets for certain types of products which presented no risk to human or animal health;

  • the need to investigate the extent to which category 2 poultry and fish by-products were used in livestock feedingstuffs before taking a view on whether this practice should cease;

  • reservations over the proposal that the processing standards for mammalian material could be lower if treated in a rendering plant than in a biogas or composting plant: the UK view was that all mammalian material should be pressure cooked, and that, if composting and biogas plants were to be allowed to process such material, there should be sufficient controls in place to prevent any risk to human or animal health;

  • the need for derogations from the proposal permitting burial in very limited circumstances for category 2 material, for example in remote areas (where compliance would be extremely difficult) or emergency disease situations (where transporting the carcases would spread disease);

  • the need to include environmental standards for animal carcase incinerators and pet crematoria, which had been excluded from the Waste Incineration Directive on the understanding that they would appear in this proposal;

  • clarification of the circumstances in which manure and gut contents from mammalian animals would be controlled, particularly within the Member State of origin.

  12.11  The Government also provided a preliminary Regulatory Impact Assessment, which suggested that a number of sectors — the majority involving small businesses — would be affected, including livestock producers, pharmaceutical plants, slaughterhouses, rendering plants, knackers' yards, petfood manufacturers, hunt kennels, circuses and zoos, and maggot farms. It also suggested that non-recurring costs were unlikely to be significant for most premises which have the basic infrastructure in place, though costs could arise for those having to install pressure cooking systems or to upgrade their standards (which overall could be as high as £50-60 million and £1.5 million respectively). 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 Government was likely to face some extra enforcement costs.

  12.12  In a Supplementary Explanatory Memorandum of 26 February 2001, the Government set out the main changes which had been made to the proposal as a result of the discussions so far in Brussels, together with a revised Regulatory Impact Assessment. The latter confirmed the figures previously provided, but added that a prohibition on the spreading to land of untreated blood would increase the cost to slaughterhouses for the disposal of blood from £16 to £60-80 per tonne. The revised Assessment also referred to the costs of bringing animal waste incinerators within the scope of this proposal, and to the impact of the proposal of manure and gut contents, but said that these could not be estimated until the proposal had been clarified.

  12.13  This information was made available to the House by our predecessors in their Report of 28 February 2001, shortly before the documents were debated in European Standing Committee A on 7 March 2001.

The current documents

  12.14  The current documents reflect those changes which were proposed by the European Parliament at its first reading on 12 June 2001, and which the Commission was prepared to accept. However, although some of the Parliament's amendments have been taken on board in the Common Position agreed by the Agriculture Council on 20 November 2001, there are a number of differences. As a result, the Common Position text has been submitted to the Parliament for a second reading, which is expected in March 2002.

  12.15  As a consequence the Explanatory Memorandum of 4 February 2002 from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Lords) at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty) concentrates on the changes made to the original proposals in order to achieve the Common Position. These are as follows:

  • the European Parliament proposed a prohibition on intraspecies recycling, and the Common Position would prohibit the feeding of processed animal protein to animals of the same species (although the ban would not apply to blood products, milk, milk-based products, colostrum, hydrolysed proteins and dicalcium phosphate): the Minister says that, because of the existing Community-wide feed ban, this will have little practical effect, and that it is in line with the recommendations of the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC) and the Food Standards Agency, although the Community is seeking a scientific opinion on the feeding of rendered fish to farmed fish, and will, if appropriate, come forward with a derogation allowing that practice to continue;

  • the European Parliament proposed a ban on the swill-feeding of catering waste to livestock, partly because of foot and mouth concerns, and partly because it was not compatible with the ban on inter-species recycling: in line with UK practice since May 2001, the Common Position text would ban the feeding to livestock of catering waste which contains meat or other products of animal origin;

  • however, this would include oils and fats, which the UK considers can safely be used if they are protected from contamination by appropriate controls, and it is also concerned both about the financial and environmental implications of a ban, and the risk of it provoking a trade dispute with the United States;

  • as originally envisaged, manure and gut contents would be controlled if they were to be used in a biogas or composting plant, traded between Member States or imported from third countries: within a Member State, gut contents could be spread only to non-pasture, but manure and gut contents could otherwise be spread to land without restriction so long as the Member State did not consider this presented a risk of spreading any serious transmissible disease;

  • pressure cooking would be extended to category 2 material, as well as that in category 1, if it is to be disposed of to landfill after rendering;

  • the burial or burning of fallen stock would be permitted in tightly defined remote areas (likely to be confined in the UK to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland), and during an outbreak of disease if transport of carcases posed a health risk, or there was a lack of capacity at rendering plants or incinerators;

  • controls on animal carcase incinerators and pet crematoria would now be included in the proposal, but, because of the legal base chosen, these would relate to the protection of public and animal health, and not to environmental protection (though they would provide incidental protection in the latter case);

  • at the same time, the Commission would be looking further at the use of small incinerators, for example at hunt kennels and knackers' yards, to incinerate specified risk material, where further clarification on both legal and scientific grounds was needed.

  12.16  The Minister has also provided with his Explanatory Memorandum a revised Regulatory Impact Assessment In broad terms, this confirms the figures provided earlier and set out in paragraphs 12.11 and 12.12 above. However, the Assessment suggests that the ban on the use in animal feed of used cooking oils from restaurants could add between £29 and 45 million to feed costs as a result of the need to use alternatives, and additional disposal costs of £28 million for caterers. It is also suggested that substantial costs could arise from blocked sewers if oils are disposed of illegally in this way.


  12.17  We are grateful to the Minister for this update, which we are reporting to the House in view of the importance of these proposals. We hope he will keep us similarly informed of any developments arising from the European Parliament's second reading next month. In the meantime, as the current two documents have in effect been overtaken by events, we are clearing them.

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

57   OJ No. L 62, 15.3.93, p.49. Back

58   (21759) 12648/00 and (21767) 12646/00; see HC 28-iii (2000-01), paragraph 2 (17 January 2001), HC 28-vii (2000-01), paragraph 3 (28 February 2001) and HC 28-viii (2000-01), paragraph 2 (14 March 2001). Back

59   At least 133°C, bar 3 pressure for 20 minutes. Back

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