The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) shared details on how companies can send unused food to be used as animal feed on Friday [March 27].
“As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions on in-store dining, restaurants and restaurant suppliers may have surplus food that they cannot use and are looking for ways to repurpose their inventory,” the agency added.
The preferred redistribution method for products is to channel them into human food, but that may not always be possible, the FDA said. “Another option is to send the unused food for use as animal food – unused restaurant and grocery store food is commonly repurposed as animal food and is a valuable way to re-use food in a way that limits the impact on the environment.”
Companies or businesses interested in making use of the system should focus on products that are safe but that will not be used for human food because of “supply-chain” or “food quality” challenges, the FDA said.
“If you are a restaurant, restaurant supplier, food warehouse, or grocery store that has unused human food that is not adulterated, don’t let it go to waste,” the agency said. “You can send that food to animal food use.”
There are several paths to transition products into the animal feed sector, the agency said. These include sending products directly to farmers or livestock producers or providing it to someone
If products are packaged they need to be labeled with a statement of identity along with a list of ingredients, but the list does not have to comply with food allergen labeling requirements, however, removing packaging that would make products unsafe for animals to eat it is also recommended. Food should be stored in a way so that it remains safe for use in feed, said the US agency.
Businesses should “consider submitting a diversion or reconditioning request if food is adulterated and needs to be re-processed to be safe for animals to consume,” the FDA said. In addition, state and local government regulations still have to be followed.
However, businesses are also reminded not to send food that would be toxic or that is adulterated or contaminated with food safety hazards including pathogenic bacteria, chemicals or physical hazards, the agency said.
Meat products cannot be distributed for use in swine food unless it has been processed according to the heating methods put forward in the Swine Health Protection Act, the agency said. Any food shared in to the production system for ruminants cannot contain mammalian proteins, it added.