24 June 1999
Abattoir anger over feed ban
By Vicky Houchin
ABATTOIR operators and pig farmers are set to clash over recommendations to government ministers that meat and bonemeal should stay banned from animal feed.
The Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC) said yesterday that using meat and bonemeal (MBM) as an ingredient could not be scientifically justified.
MBM is made from animal by-products and was banned as an feed ingredient after being blamed for the rapid spread of BSE in the early ’90s.
Agriculture Minister Nick Brown could ignore SEACs advice, but such a move is unlikely because he has followed its findings on other BSE-related issues.
The British Meat Federation, however, which represents slaughterhouses and abattoirs, still wants the controversial feed ingredient back in pig and poultry rations.
Peter Scott, the British Meat Federations general secretary, said this afternoon that SEACs announcement yesterday was not unexpected.
“We were neither pleased nor unpleased ,” he told Farmers Weekly.
But it was illogical that UK pig bones could still be exported to Europe and fed to pigs which were then imported and eaten by UK consumers, Mr Scott added.
The British Meat Federation will now go back to ministers and push again for MBM to be allowed as a feed ingredient for pigs and poultry, he said.
“We can accept that in the long term we wont go back to feeding ruminants with MBM, but we have been asking the Government to reintroduce it for pigs and poultry.”
Before the BSE crisis, abattoirs obtained a significant amount of their income by selling mammalian offal to renderers, who then turned it into MBM.
But Stewart Houston, chairman of the British Pig Industry Support Group (BPISG), said it was crucial that the ban on MBM remained.
The BPISG has based its campaign against cheap imports of pigmeat on the fact that European farmers are still allowed to feed their pigs on MBM, he said.
Mr Houston said he appreciated that re-introducing MBM would boost abattoir incomes, but added that keeping MBM out of animal feed was a food safety issue.
“Weve taken the moral high ground; it would be very difficult to turn back,” he said.