UK pig farmer fined £4K for feeding meat sandwiches to pigs

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

© istock/songqiuju
© istock/songqiuju

Related tags: Pig, European union

Simon John Tallis, a pig producer based in Halifax, pleaded guilty to two offences relating to breaches of legislation introduced to cut the risk of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) affecting UK livestock.

He appeared before Bradford and Keighley Magistrates Court on Friday, July 14. Along with the £4K (US$5,2K) fine, Tallis was ordered to pay a further £2k in costs.

Officers from Calderdale Council and West Yorkshire Trading Standards said they found a large number of sandwiches containing meat products on his site, along with equipment to feed the sandwiches to animals in October 2016. 

Catering waste means all waste food originating in restaurants, catering facilities and household kitchens.

Catering waste or swill feeding was banned across the EU in 2002 following the FMD (FMD) outbreak – triggered by a UK farmer illegally feeding uncooked food waste to pigs.

UK pig industry diligence urged

Georgina Crayford, senior policy advisor at the UK trade group, the National Pig Association (NPA), said that with African Swine Fever (ASF) a major problem in Eastern Europe and it recently having spread to the Czech Republic, the need for the UK pig sector to show maximum diligence is critical.

“If just one pig becomes infected with African Swine Fever (ASF), FMD, Classical Swine Fever (CSF) or any other diseases potentially spread via infected meat, it could effectively close down our industry, stop our burgeoning export market in its tracks and cause untold damage to the wider farming community.

“These rules are in place for a very good reason and we would like to remind all farmers and pig keepers in the strongest possible terms that they must be adhered to at all times. There is never a good reason to feed pigs meat or any catering waste. The potential cost to our industry is too great.” 

UK National Audit Office report​ on the handling of the 2001 FMD outbreak showed that it cost the public sector over £3bn and the private sector more than £5bn. “By the time the disease had been eradicated in September 2001, more than six million animals had been slaughtered: over four million for disease control purposes; and over two million for welfare reasons.”

The NPA is also calling on the UK government and local authorities to ensure the legislation is properly enforced, said Crayford.

Call to lift ban

Erasmus K.H.J. zu Ermgassen, a researcher at the Conservation Science Group, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, in a study​ published in December 2015, said reducing the environmental footprint of meat production is becoming increasingly critical.

In that context, he concluded that if the EU lifted the pig swill ban and harnessed technologies developed in East Asian countries for ‘heat-treating’ food waste to safely turn it into pig feed, around 1.8m hectares of land globally could be saved from being stripped for grain and soy based pig feed production.

He said the reintroduction of swill feeding in the EU would require backing from pig producers, the public, and policy makers, but he claimed it has substantial potential to improve the environmental and economic sustainability of EU pork production.

“It is time to reassess whether the EU’s blanket ban on the use of food waste as feed is the right thing for the pig industry,”​ he said.

Opposition

However, EU feed industry trade group, FEFAC, is firmly opposed to the idea of reintroducing catering waste or pig swill into the animal feed supply chain, and the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) say swill feeding plays a major role​ in disease transmission.

Vigorous enforcement of the EU-wide ban on swill feeding is essential, said the FVE.

The UK’s animal and plant health agency (APHA) issued a warning​in January this year reminding farmers not to feed catering or kitchen waste to livestock such as pigs and poultry, citing disease risk.

Related topics: Regulation, Safety, Swine, Europe

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