EU allows feeding cheap animal remains to pigs and chickens

Two pigs lying, one pig standing in a crate, they look miserable, pigs suffering
Pigs going to the slaughterhouse, ©Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

The European Union will next week lift the ban on feeding animal remains to farm animals. From Monday, European farmers can give their pigs and chickens cheap animal protein again.

For the past twenty years, the ban was in place because governments feared mad cow disease, a fatal disease that slowly destroys an infected animal’s brain and spinal cord. There’s no cure for it.

In rare cases, humans can get a form of mad cos disease called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD). This can happen if a person eats nerve tissue of an animal infected with mad cow disease. Over time, vCJD destroys the brain and spinal cord of a person.

In 2001, the EU banned the use of PAPs in the feed of all farmed animals as cases of mad cow disease emerged. The disease was spread widely by farmers feeding their animals meat and bone parts of dead and infected animals.

And then humans started dying from vCJD, understood to be passed along by consuming infected beef. So farmers switched to grains, like soybeans, oats and barley.

Except for Ireland and France, almost all EU member states voted in May for a change in regulations allowing processed animal proteins (PAPs) to be used in food for pigs, geese, ducks, and chickens.

In France, officials appear to be cautious about the new lifting of the ban. The French agricultural ministry told AFP that it would wait for the food safety agency to take a position.

Possible mad cow disease case
According to news agency Reuters, Brazil’s agriculture ministry said on Wednesday it was investigating a possible case of mad cow disease.

In 2019, Brazil’s government reported that mad cow disease had been detected in a 17-year-old cow in Mato Grosso state, adding that no parts of that animal had entered the food chain.

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