EU parliament votes to keep food losses as feed, not waste

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The feed and formers foodstuffs sectors have welcomed the plenary vote by the EU Parliament backing a Commission proposal to leave raw materials placed on the market as feed outside the scope of the new waste regulation. 

Tuesday this week saw the Parliament vote through the report by Simona Bonafè on the amendments to waste framework directive, as part of the Circular Economy Package.

The vote in plenary session marks the negotiation position of the EU Parliament.

The next stage of the regulatory process involves the Parliament deliberating with the Council of Ministers.

If the Council backs the amendments, food industry by-products used in the feed industry would only be subject to EU feed legislation and official feed controls.

The relevant trade groups said such a move would mean former foodstuff processors would be fully integrated into the food-to-feed chain and would not operate as ‘(food) waste recyclers’.

Feed and former foodstuff processing industry representatives maintain that good safety practices in the feed supply chain ensure an uninterrupted HACCP process in the conversion of by-products from the food and bioenergy chain into feed.

Integrity and traceability

The EU Former Foodstuff Processors Association (EFFPA) has long been pressing for legal clarification around the non-waste status of such foodstuffs of vegetable origin. 

Former foodstuffs of plant origin are materials removed from the retail market by food manufacturers, due to unintentional or unavoidable production errors. Those used in feed include broken biscuits and chocolates, surplus bread, incorrectly flavored crisps and breakfast cereals, all because of their high energy content in the form of sugars, oils and starch.

Its president, Paul Featherstone, told us previously a clear non-waste legal status for former foodstuffs is very much needed. He said this was because Europe-wide processors of such produce occasionally find their operations interrupted by environmental control authorities who incorrectly interpret former foodstuffs as a ‘waste’.

A note compiled by EU feed manufacturers’ federation (FEFAC) in 2012 identified some of the consequences of the classification of former foodstuffs as waste, such as the lack of incentives to food business operators to preserve the integrity and traceability of the former foodstuffs and potential feed safety concerns due to the loss of such traceability.

Around 3.5m tons of former foodstuffs are processed into feed in the EU. There is potential for that to grow by this by 1.5 to 2m tons based on future innovation and expansion, according to EFFPA.

In May last year, Featherstone told an event organized by Dutch feed trade association, NEVEDI, on the challenges in global raw material supply that former foodstuffs have a similar nutritional value to cereals such as wheat, barley and maize. 

He emphasized the positive contribution of former foodstuff processing to the food chain circular economy in that it provides food manufacturers with a consistent and sustainable outlet for their losses, reducing their food waste and increasing revenues, while feed producers get an alternative energy-rich ingredient to grains, reducing land resources needs.

Data gap

However, Dr Sabine Kruse, who is responsible for legislation relating to feed safety and animal nutrition in the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), said the feed sector requires more information about the production processes involved in the generation of by-products and former foodstuffs. 

“There is a lack of data available to the feed sector on such feed sources for it to make a full risk assessment. Our experience shows the food sector is often not aware of this ‘function’ as a feed producer and does not take this into account the specific risks for animal and consumer health,” she told us. 

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