Meat-and-bone meal allowed again by the European Commission

Meat-and-bone meal made its return to EU livestock feeders in September. In principle, it will be possible to feed poultry and pigs with "processed animal protein" (PAP), two decades after the ban on all animal meal for livestock production in the wake of the "mad cow" crisis. The text was published on 18 August in the EU's Official Journal and is due to enter into force twenty days later, on Tuesday 7 September.

But France abstained from the vote and the situation remains in abeyance, with the Ministry of Agriculture telling AFP last Friday that it has just asked the national health agency for a new opinion to "take a position" on the subject. In an opinion published this summer, the latter recommended "strict compliance" with the rule of separation of species, from the slaughterhouse to delivery to the breeder. In particular, this means avoiding any cannibalism: do not feed pigs to pigs.

  • What are processed animal proteins ?

These proteins are made up of crushed carcass parts (snouts, legs, bones, etc.) from healthy animals.

  • Which animals are concerned ?

Farmed fish and pets could already be fed with these meals. It will now be possible to feed poultry and pigs. The ban remains valid for ruminants, herbivores (cattle, goats, sheep, etc.).

  • Why was meat-and-bone meal banned ?

In the 1990s, the bones of sick, infected or dead cattle were ground up to feed cattle of the same species. This led to the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), whose human variant, a variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, could be transmitted to consumers. This "mad cow disease" was first reported in Great Britain in 1986. The first case in France was identified in 1991. This degeneration of the nervous system has caused the death of at least a hundred people worldwide, including about twenty in France.

From now on, "strict conditions should apply to the collection, transport and processing of these products, and samples should be regularly taken and analysed to avoid any risk", according to the European text, based on the opinions of health agencies.

  • What is the point?

Brussels and the professionals point out that these products can partially replace the import of vegetable proteins such as Brazilian soya. This is a valid argument, in the midst of soaring cereal and oilseed prices.

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