Legal clarity for surplus food used in feed

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/VladimirGerasimov
© GettyImages/VladimirGerasimov
New EU legislation confirms that surplus food targeted for animal feed use is not food waste.

FEFAC said, under the new definition in the revised Waste Framework Directive (EU) 2018/85​, which was published in the Official Journal of the EU on June 14, food is prevented from becoming a waste when it is used in feed.

The new EU waste regulation includes an exclusion for substances destined for use as feed materials. FEFAC said this means a situation where substances already covered by feed legislation would not be unnecessarily included in the scope of waste legislation, as the European Former Foodstuff Processors Association (EFFPA), the trade group for businesses that turn former foodstuffs into feed, had long been calling for.

‘Plant-based substances from the agri-food industry and food of non-animal origin no longer intended for human consumption which are destined for oral animal feeding should, in order to avoid duplication of rules, be excluded from the scope of Directive 2008/98/EC if in full compliance with Union feed legislation. Directive 2008/98/EC should therefore not apply to those products and substances when used for feed, and the scope of that Directive needs to be clarified accordingly.’

Moreover, when former foodstuffs are now placed on the market as safe feed materials, they cannot be downgraded to waste based on interpretation of the by-products criteria by competent environmental control authorities, added the industry representatives.

Europe-wide processors of surplus food occasionally would have had their operations interrupted by environmental control authorities who incorrectly interpret former foodstuffs as a ‘waste’, Paul Featherstone, president of EFFPA, told us previously.

A note compiled by 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.

Featherstone said the revised legislation provides legal recognition that former foodstuff processing is part of the food production chain.

“There can no longer be any confusion about the fact that we are genuine feed manufacturers who source materials that have not been considered waste at a previous stage.”

The EU-28 have until 5 July 2020 to bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with the revised Waste Framework Directive.

Guidance on producing surplus food for feed sector

In April, the European Commission published guidance​ aimed at facilitating public and private understanding of the EU legal framework for the conversion of former foodstuffs into feed; the publication plays into its ambition to reduce food waste.

Featherstone told FeedNavigator then:

“It is a brilliant document. It teases out many of the challenges that we faced across different member states. It looks at the implementation of a raft of legislation from food to feed to [animal by-product] ABP to [transmissible encephalopathies]​ TSE regulation, and does a very clever and neat job of tiptoeing through those different scenarios. It has a chapter summary at the end of each area, clearly highlighting in italics the key points for food and feed businesses or competent authorities in members states, while setting out the overarching objectives of trying to recover more surplus food into the feed industry sector.”

He said the Commission’s publication has also "done its best"​ to address the challenges previously identified by food processing operators in terms of the issues that might hinder or even prevent them from supplying surplus food for use as feed.

In the main, those barriers were:

  • The capability of food processors to ensure compliance of food no longer intended for human consumption with feed legislation
  • Double registration of establishments as food and feed businesses leading to additional auditing
  • The lack of harmonization across members states for food processors regarding requirements on registration in relation to feed delivery.

"The document has clearly identified what is a waste and what is not a waste, and, therefore, what could potentially be an animal feed,"​ he said.

However, trying to get harmonization across 28 individual states, while looking at four different areas of legislation, is nearly asking the impossible of one document, stressed Featherstone.

“The guidance is saying to member states that we should all be singing off this hymn sheet – we should not have these problems of differing documentation and differing understanding as we cross state borders,” ​he said. “Whether member states will pick it up and run with that information, well, that is for them to decide. We hope they will implement the understanding of this guidance, and, therefore, we would have solved that problem.” 

The guidance also recommends as a next step, and as a burden reducing measure, that stakeholder associations representing food, bakery and biscuit manufacturers, in collaboration with EFFPA, would develop a simplified, tailor made HACCP system for food businesses supplying surplus food as feed. 

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