Pig industry backs waste food, but not swill

Members of the British pig industry support feeding pigs waste food, but swill-feeding is a “risk too far”, the National Pig Association (NPA) told MPs.

Regions manager for the NPA Lizzie Press said, in response to calls for a change in the regulations to feeding pigs swill: “There will never be a market for pig swill, unless producers themselves think it is a good idea — and they remain to be convinced”.

Press, who was speaking to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Agro-ecology earlier in the week, said calls from campaign groups, such as The Pig Idea, to bring back swill-feeding were “sending the wrong signals”, even if the swill was treated following tight regulation.

“Foot-and-mouth, classical swine fever and African swine fever are almost inevitably here in Britain already, in meat brought in by visitors,” she said. “The only way to prevent major outbreaks, such as occurred in 2001, is to maintain uncompromisingly strict biosecurity to keep it away from farms.”

Despite marginal disagreements between the NPA and Pig Idea, NPA chairman Richard Longthorp identified the opportunity to work together and asked the Pig Idea campaigners, author Tristram Stuart and chef Thomasina Miers: “Can’t we just go for the low-hanging fruit? Let’s see if we can find some common goals.”

Charlotte Jarman from The Pig Idea told MeatInfo.co.uk: “We too welcome the emergence of common ground at yesterday’s (15 October) meeting - and stress that promoting the use of legally permissible former foodstuffs in pig feed is one of the primary goals of the campaign.

“We agree that more research is needed to establish how we could develop a safe system for processing catering waste to be used as pig feed (as already happens in countries such as Japan, South Korea, and some US States). But when 37% of the global food basket is used to feed livestock (including around 97% of all soy), a billion people go to bed hungry every night, and we face the challenge of feeding a growing population, we feel that there’s a moral imperative to investigate that possibility.”

Campaign to change EU regulation

It was in June this year that The Pig Idea launched a campaign for a change in the European law to allow hobby pig-keepers to feed kitchen waste to their animals.

“The Pig Idea is campaigning for a revision to EU Regulation (EC) No 1069/2009 to allow for the inclusion of animal by-products and catering waste in feed for omnivorous non-ruminants. The campaign argues that, to ensure food safety, the revised law would need to require all catering waste to be sufficiently heat-treated through centralised feed plants,” it said in a previous statement.

On its website The Pig Idea explained that, for thousands of years, pigs have consumed the waste that humans produce, converting it into pork. However, “Today supermarkets talk about composting food waste or turning it into electricity but by far the most efficient thing to do with food waste is to feed it directly to pigs,” it claimed.