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FSA Advises Rejection of Proposal on PAP in EU Feed

by 5m Editor
20 September 2011, at 10:44am

UK - The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has written to Government ministers setting out its advice not to support European Commission proposals that the European Union should relax a ban on using pig and poultry processed animal proteins (PAP; previously known as meat and bone meal) in feed. The NFU is disappointed at this recommendation.

The advice follows the FSA Board's discussion at its meeting in Cardiff on 7 September. Although the Board accepted that the available risk assessments showed that the proposed changes would give rise to a negligible risk, they were concerned that this relied on effective enforcement of controls.

The Board also believed a highly precautionary approach to transmissible spongiform encephalopathy diseases continues to be justified. Having carefully considered the responses to the stakeholder engagement process, it could identify no real benefit from the change that would justify putting consumers at any additional risk, however tiny.

While the FSA's role is to advise on food safety and the interests of consumers in relation to food, the decision on whether or not the UK should support the proposed changes to the feed ban will be for ministers, with negotiations led by Defra.

The letter to the Defra minister is available online [click here].

NFU disappointed at FSA advice

The Food Standards Agency's decision to advise against the lifting of a ban on the use of processed animal protein (PAP) in non-ruminant feed will be challenged, the NFU said today, 20 September.

NFU President, Peter Kendall, has written to the agriculture minister, Jim Paice, to raise a number of concerns over how board members reached their decision – ignoring scientific evidence and appearing to lack understanding of the reasons behind proposed changes to PAP rules.

Mr Kendall has also requested an urgent meeting with the board in a bid to explain how this decision could have a detrimental effect on the poultry industry in this country.

In the letter, Mr Kendall states: "The board did not discuss at any point during the meeting the rationale behind the proposal. It would have been beneficial to have put the proposed amendments to the feed ban into context at the beginning of the discussion.

"These were outlined in section nine of the report produced by Alison Gleadle and talked about the use of PAP as a sustainable source of high quality protein for animal feed which could be used to address the EU protein deficit and to reduce reliance on imported soya.

"It was worrying that during the meeting, board members stated they didn't understand the background to the proposed amendment to the regulation. Therefore I feel that consumers watching these proceedings were not provided with a balanced overview of the issue and were led to believe that the science and enforcement surrounding it could not be relied upon.

"I was extremely concerned that the board seemed to ignore the scientific evidence and advice of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and appeared to be influenced by consumer opinion surrounding this issue. A general mistrust of science or distaste about animal protein feed by board members or consumers must not over-ride the science and risk-based approach the agency claims to take in all matters.

"During the meeting, board members questioned aspects of the EFSA opinion on processed animal protein. I am concerned that the board is not sufficiently aware of the process by which such opinions are derived. It is very important that board members can trust the panel of independent experts and the rigour of the science that is considered in writing EFSA opinions.

"It is right that the board rigorously debates the issues but if it has reservations on the EFSA opinion, these must be addressed to EFSA with no recommendations made by the board until it has the full scientific information. If the agency considers there to be substantive gaps in the science, a situation that was not in fact described in Alison Gleadle's paper, it should ensure the necessary research is carried out to fill them," wrote Mr Kendall.

The government will now consider the evidence and views expressed and decide on the UK position on the proposal to relax the current ban on feeding PAP.