Pig boss outlines swill-feeding dangers to retailers

Supermarket chiefs received letters this week detailing the potential dangers of changing regulations surrounding swill-feeding pigs and reducing food waste.

National Pig Association (NPA) chairman Richard Longthorp wrote to the supermarket bosses and expressed his opinions on what could happen if swill-feeding pigs was reintroduced in the European Union. According to Longthorp, “sooner or later there will be a breakdown in controls”.

He said this would result in major disease outbreak, which would have a “devastating” impact on the European food chain.

In his letter, the NPA chairman has therefore reminded recipients that, to ensure a sustainable and secure domestic supply chain of pigmeat, “it is essential that high biosecurity standards are maintained”.

To help ensure this is carried out, Longthorp urged supermarket bosses to stick to a three-point plan to help keep foot-and-mouth disease, classical swine fever and African swine fever out of the country.

As part of this he said in-date food that is wasted should be donated to charities for human consumption; food fit for animal consumption, but not human consumption and is produced in either a meat-free plant or packaged and handled through a registered feed scheme, should be diverted to pig feed; and unsuitable food, not fit for consumption, should be sent to anaerobic digestion.

“As a nation, we must all commit to reducing food waste to a minimum and then to utilising the remaining unavoidable waste appropriately,” Longthorp said. “The pig industry already uses over one million tonnes of food co- and by-products from the human food chain, which would otherwise be destined for landfill or similar on an annual basis. This is all fed in a perfectly safe and controlled manner.”

However, he also pointed out that the industry, over the last 10 years, had reduced the amount of soya it used by around 50%. Longthorp said this was achieved through farmers supplementing pig food with rapemeal, peas and beans, as well as waste from distilleries.

“And we are currently investigating additional safe food waste streams, which could be utilised by the pig industry in the future.”