The new report "Feeding surplus food to pigs safely" by REFRESH partner Feedback reveals that a change of law could liberate up to 2.5 million tonnes of currently wasted food from the UK’s manufacturing, retail and catering sectors to be fed to pigs.

Feeding pigs on food leftovers is an age-old practice, but in 2001 it was made illegal to feed most types of food waste to pigs, when the Foot and Mouth outbreak was traced back to a farmer feeding his pigs with improperly treated food waste. This was enshrined in EU law in 2002, but the UK’s exit from the EU now means the UK has the opportunity to reform this law.

The report cites a group of experts in animal health, diets and diseases from the UK and Europe who this year concluded that it was possible to produce safe feed from surplus food through heat treatment, potentially complemented with acidification, as part of the REFRESH project. The experts highlighted that in Europe this would need to be treated in a limited number of licensed, off-farm processing facilities, using safety processes similar to the rendering and pet food industries, and regularly inspected, a proposal that would remedy the weaknesses of the pre-2001 system. REFRESH research is quoted in the report.