The United Nations estimates that if farmers around the world fed their livestock on the food that we currently waste and on agricultural by-products, enough grain would be liberated to feed an extra three billion people. To help food businesses contribute to such a grand waste-free future, REFRESH has built a web app for businesses to clarify which surplus food is suitable, and what needs to be done to send the food to animal feed in a safe and legal way.
Conventional livestock feed uses up lots of crops that could be eaten by people, such as maize, barley or soy, and relies on scarce land and water resources. As we substitute these crops with surplus food, we save land and water, and reduce the pressure on international grain prices.
In addition, a study by Cambridge University shows that sending food waste to animal feed scores better on 12 out of 14 environmental and health indicators than anaerobic digestion (biogas) or composting. The calculations in this study were based on the current UK energy mix – for the energy needed to render the food waste safe, so if renewable energy was used feed could potentially beat biogas and compost on all indicators.
So, what is stopping food producers, manufacturers and retailers from sending their surplus to be used in feed? Logistical challenges and complicated legislation are two factors, making it difficult for food business to know what kind of surplus food is allowed and what isn’t (for example desserts using pig gelatine are ok, but not gelatine from cows). It’s also not that easy to have the right processes in place to keep the suitable surplus food safely separated from the prohibited foods.
That is why REFRESH has come up with a web app to make it as easy as possible for food businesses to understand the legislation and requirements that are applicable to their specific context. For example, the by-products of a pea canning factory pose a lot less risk than those of a meat pie manufacturer, and so different requirements apply. The web app helps the pea canning factory or meat pie maker get straight to what they need to know, nothing more, nothing less.
Try the tool for yourself at www.refreshcoe.eu/animal-feed-tool/
This version of the tool applies to the guidance provided by the UK government specifically. Next year tools for Spain and the Netherlands will be published and these will be based on the new Guidelines for the use of former foodstuffs in farm animal feed, soon to be published as a recommendation by the European Commission.
Karen Luyckx. 2017. Web App: Waste or Animal Feed?