Select Committee on European Scrutiny Seventh Report


HEALTH REQUIREMENTS FOR ANIMAL BY-PRODUCTS


(a)
(21759)
12648/00
COM(00) 574


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


(b)
(21767)
12646/00
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
Department: Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
Basis of consideration: SEM of 26 February 2001
Previous Committee Report: HC 28-iii (2000-01), paragraph 2 (17 January 2001)
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 (decision reported on 17 January 2001)

Background

  3.1  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.[17] 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.

  3.2  In addition, Council Directive 92/118/EEC[18] (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).

  3.3  The Commission has recently reviewed these measures, and, as a result, it has put forward in October 2000 proposals for 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.

  3.4  The proposals are set out more fully in our Report of 17 January 2001, but one of their main effects 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 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.

  3.5  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 of ways in which the processed material is used or disposed of.

  3.6  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).

  3.7  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.

  3.8  In her Explanatory Memorandum of 27 November 2000, the Minister of State (Lords) at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman) said that the proposals would, in some respects, bring Community law into line with that already in place in the UK, but that, in other respects, the controls would go beyond those applying in the UK. 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. She then identified a number of key issues for the UK, which we summarised in paragraph 2.12 of our previous Report.

  3.9  The Minister also provided a preliminary Regulatory Impact Assessment, which she said would be revised in the light of comments received from the industry. This 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 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. 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 Government was likely to face some extra enforcement costs.

  3.10  In the conclusion to our Report, we said that, although detailed and highly technical, this was clearly an important piece of legislation, and that the documents should, therefore, be debated in European Standing Committee A, once the Government had completed its consultation exercise and produced a revised Regulatory Impact Assessment. In the meantime, we asked the Minister to clarify the relationship between what was proposed here and the various measures which we had considered relating to the prevention and control of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs).

Supplementary Explanatory Memorandum of 26 February 2001

  3.11  In her Supplementary Explanatory Memorandum of 26 February 2001, the Minister says that, following discussions in Council working group, a revised text has been produced. The main changes made are as follows.

  3.12  The Government had previously explained that the UK supported a ban on the use of animal feedingstuffs of meat and bone meal derived from category 1 and 2 mammalian by-products and category 1 poultry and fish by-products, but that it was investigating 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. The Minister points out that the feeding of poultry meal to livestock, and the feeding of fish meal to ruminants, has since been banned on a European basis, and that the Government expects any future relaxation to be restricted to category 3 material.

  3.13  She says that the proposal has been extended to require the pressure cooking (to at least 133°C and 3 bar pressure for 20 minutes) of category 2 material as well as category 1 material if, after rendering, it is to be disposed of to landfill. She adds that there is also pressure from some Member States to require the pressure cooking of all category 1 and 2 material, regardless of the disposal route after rendering, so that workers at plants which incinerate meat and bone meal, for example, are adequately protected. She points out that, although some renderers are installing pressure cookers to enable them to render Specified Risk Material (category 1 material), few of the other plants possess pressure cookers: were pressure cooking of category 2 material prior to landfill to be required, a substantial programme of investment would be needed, with consequent cost implications. She says that the UK takes the view that, given its current ban on the feeding to livestock of mammalian meat and bone meal, the pressure cooking requirement is not strictly necessary: category 2 material excludes that posing the greatest TSE risk, and could therefore be processed to a different standard, provided it is disposed of in a way which presented no risk to animal or public health.

  3.14  The Minister says that the original proposal would have banned the use of burial to dispose of ruminant animals which die on farm, and would also have prevented the use of burial (landfill) for the disposal of low-risk waste from butchers' shops, slaughterhouses and similar premises. Along with other Member States, the UK had pointed out that such a ban would not be practicable, and the revised text now permits the burial of fallen stock in remote areas. However, she suggests that the Commission will continue to press for any derogation to be very tightly defined, and for the areas where burial is permitted to be specified.

  3.15  The Minister recalls that, during negotiations on the Waste Incineration Directive, the Commission had agreed that environmental standards for animal carcase incinerators and pet crematoria should be excluded from that measure, and brought forward in the current proposal. The present draft does not yet include any such standards, but it does now provide for appropriate controls for small incinerators to be brought forward separately, which the Government regards as "helpful". However, as drafted, such incinerators could not be used for category 1 material, such as Specified Risk Material, and the Minister suggests that this would have implications for their use at hunt kennels and knackers' yards.

  3.16  As regards catering waste, the Minister says that it has been agreed that such waste containing meat or other products of animal origin should be brought within the scope of the proposed Regulation, enabling its use in biogas and composting plants to be controlled. Member States have been asked to consider whether such waste should be pressure cooked (to at least 133°C and 3 bar pressure for 20 minutes) if it is to be fed as swill, which is stricter than the UK standard, and which the Minister considers few swill feeders would be able to meet without installing new cookers.

  3.17  The Minister has also enclosed with her Supplementary Explanatory Memorandum a revised Regulatory Impact Assessment. In the main, this confirms the figures previously provided, and summarised in paragraph 3.9 above, but it adds 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 refers to the costs of bringing animal waste incinerators within the scope of this proposal, which would require new standards for small incinerators. It says that, until the new controls are proposed, it is impossible to assess their impact, but that the capital costs for a small incinerator could be £230,000, with annual operating costs of around £12,000. Finally, the revised Assessment refers to the possible control under the proposal of manure and gut contents. Once more, the costs cannot be estimated until the proposal has been clarified, but the Assessment says that around 5% of dairy and beef farmers transport a significant proportion of manure away from the farm of origin, and that the equivalent figure for pig producers is around 20%. Higher proportions still of poultry waste is disposed of away from the farm, though much of the drier poultry manure is now burnt in power stations.

Conclusion

  3.18  We are grateful to the Minister for this further information, which is timely as we understand that the debate we recommended is to take place next week. Our only caveat is that the Minister does not appear to have addressed our query over the relationship between what is proposed here and the various other measures relating to the prevention and control of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). Whilst this outstanding point need not hold up the scheduled debate, we would nevertheless still like to have this point clarified.


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

18   OJ No. L 62, 15.3.93, p.49. Back


 
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