Campaign calls for more food waste to be fed to pigs

A new campaign, launched on World Environment day, is calling for a change in European law to allow pigs to be fed more food waste.

The Pig Idea campaign, which was initiated by chef Thomasina Miers and food waste expert from Feeding the 5000, Tristram Stuart, aims to restore public confidence in the practice of feeding surplus food to pigs, encourage the use of more legally permissible food waste as pig food, and start the process of changing European law to allow food waste to be diverted for use as pig feed.

The campaign is highlighting the fact that huge quantities of food waste are sent to landfill, while the Europe imports 40m tonnes of soya from Latin America every year to feed livestock. It claims that feeding pigs waste would solve both the environmental problem of food waste and soya production, and the food security issues related to feeding animals grains.

Tristram Stuart, Founder of Feeding the 5000, author and campaigner on food waste, said: “Humans have been recycling food waste by feeding it to pigs for thousands of years. Reviving this tradition will help to protect forests that are being chopped down to grow the millions of tonnes of soya we import from South America every year to feed our livestock."

Thomasina Miers, Chef at Wahaca, award winning sustainable restaurant, added: “Cutting down rainforest in the Amazon to grow pig feed for pigs in Europe makes no sense.  Let’s save all our delicious food waste and feed it to the pigs.  Not only will we be saving the rainforest (and slowing down climate change) but we’ll be bringing down the cost of pig feed and pork.  Let them eat waste!”

The campaign has already won the support of small scale pig operations such as Helen Browning Organics and organisations such as Compassion in World Farming (CiWF).

“Food waste is one of the biggest scandals of our time. It is not only a humanitarian and environmental issue, but an animal welfare issue too. Sending vast quantities of food to landfill means that huge numbers of animals have effectively endured the misery of factory farming for nothing. Recycling properly treated food waste through pigs kept in decent conditions is a common sense way of feeding both pigs and people,” said Philip Lymbery, CiWF chief executive.

However, industry group the National Pig Association has raised concerns, warning that feeding pigs waste could increase the risk of notifiable diseases, such as foot-and-mouth, classical swine fever and African swine fever.

“We don’t want this campaign to give the public the mistaken impression that it is alright to feed waste food to pigs,” said NPA general manager Dr Zoe Davies. “We appreciate that the Pig Idea campaigners have the best of intentions and have been at pains to explain all the legal issues but we remain concerned that promoting the image of pigs eating waste food is unhelpful,”

The Pig Idea campaign stated that it would push for food waste to be “properly and safely treated” under supervision by enforcement agencies, and that only “properly sterilised” food waste would be used.

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