Before animal by-products (ABP) can be used in feed they must undergo a treatment which complies with the rules laid down in the animal by-products regulation. This regulation states that only category 3 material (the safest category of ABP) can be used to produce petfood and derived products to feed farmed animals. Non-authorised category 1 and 2 derived products are marked with the GTH marker to allow verification. Derived products are produced in approved establishments that follow standard processing methods which guarantee microbiological safety standards. Petfood is produced in approved petfood plants applying heat treatments or using derived products which guarantee microbiological safety. In addition, HACCP principles are part of the requirements that need to be implemented in order to obtain approval.
Important bans include the kitchen waste ban and a ban on cannibalism of proteins. These bans provide a “species barrier” and ensure a well-defined, traceable use of raw materials. This traceability is another key tool implemented in the ABP & feed sector. Uniform commercial documents, labelling and the use of the TRACES system guarantee the correct management of incidents and problems.
In addition to these general rules, specific feed measures are taken for the prevention, control & eradication of Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSE) via feed. A physical barrier is important in order to control TSEs, since these diseases are in most cases transmitted via the feeding of animal materials, but the processing of ABP has limited effect on the infectivity, while the removal of SRM (see specific page on SRM) has its limitations. This physical barrier is called the “feed ban” and is a restriction on animal-derived proteins in the feed of farmed animals. Only proteins which are safe as regards TSE and where control tools enable an effective implementation are allowed in feed for farmed animals. The current feedban is summarized in this table.
Recently, the use of insects and insect products has become a point of interest for researchers and the feed industry in Europe. Since Europe is protein deficient and sustainability issues are increasingly important, local alternative protein sources are an important issue in the feed industry. Insects are a promising source of protein, especially due to their ability to efficiently transfer low grade nutrients into high grade products. Until recently the use of insect processed animal proteins (PAP) was not authorised in the feeding of farmed animals, due to the requirements of the feed ban (insect fat was already possible if the treatment complied with the ABP regulation (see above)). As of 2021 however, insect PAP of 8 different insects species are authorised in feed for aquaculture, poultry and porcine animals (under certain conditions). A second aspect in this respect is the feeding of the insects themselves. These insects are regarded as farmed animals and as such there must be compliance with the rules for the feeding of farmed animals. As a result, only mentioning the most pertinent requirements, insects raised for the production of feed materials can currently only be fed feeds that comply with the feed ban, do not contain kitchen waste, respect the cannibalism ban, are not spoiled and do not contain packaging material.
Living insects cannot be fed to ruminants. Other animals like farmed non-ruminants and pets are authorised to be fed living farmed insects.