PAP row heats up
A Daily Mail article has reignited tensions over the processed animal protein (PAP) ban after claiming Britain could be facing a new Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD) outbreak if it was relaxed for non-ruminant feed.
The article stated that the European Commission’s proposal to allow pigs to be fed poultry meat and vice versa could lead to Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE), the condition that prompted the ban after the 1980s mad cow scandal.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA), which advised the European Commission not to relax the PAP ban, re-asserted that there would be a slight risk of TSE if pigs were to be fed chicken PAP and vice versa, as it could lead to indirect cannibalism.
“The Commission’s proposal would allow indirect recycling of animal protein, as pig PAP would be fed to poultry and poultry PAP fed back to pigs and so on,” an FSA spokesperson told Meat Trades Journal, adding that control measures to avoid this cannot be guaranteed.
Bpex also warned that it might be difficult to separate pig and poultry feed mills. “We need to assess the ability of the pig feed industry to deliver, cost-effectively, pig rations, including a PAP-based protein source, given the current pig feed mill structure which is almost exclusively combined poultry and pig dedicated mills. This would present considerable practical challenges to comply with the anticipated required segregation requirements,” a Bpex spokesperson said. The organisation said it would be guided by the latest science on PAP, but warned that several criteria would have to be considered before PAP-fed pigs can be included in the Red Tractor scheme.
However, the majority of industry argues that the risk from feeding PAP to non-ruminants is not proven. NFU animal health and welfare adviser Catherine McLaughlin said there was no evidence to suggest British meat was not safe, and that the core public safety measures put in place in the 1980s have removed all risk of contamination.
“As the Mail itself says, the lifting of the protein ban only allows the feeding of pig protein to poultry and vice versa. It does not allow the potential cannibalism of species,” she added.
Stephen Rossides, director of the British Meat Processors’ Association (BMPA), believes the FSA position on PAP is biased by consumer opinion, and said more focus should have been put on the potential benefits of lifting the ban. “Consumers are entitled to their views, but these should not be the basis of a scientific decision,” he said. “The potential benefits of a change in feed rules to industry and of a reduced reliance on imported vegetable proteins seem to have been largely side-lined in the consideration of this issue in this country.”
British Poultry Council (BPC) senior executive officer Richard Griffiths said: “The FSA has been over cautious. At the moment a ‘blanket’ ban doesn’t help anyone, and lifting it could prove more sustainable, as it would allow producers to cut down on importing soya.”