Outbreaks of notifiable diseases, such as foot-and-mouth, classical swine fever and African swine fever, could be a result of feeding human food waste to pigs, the National Pig Association has said.
Zoe Davies – “We don’t want this campaign to give the public the mistaken impression that it is alright to feed waste food to pigs”
These highly infectious diseases, which can be introduced to Britain in infected meat — even meat that has been processed and cooked — are economically damaging to the whole country and the only effective way to control them is by widespread slaughter of livestock.
NPA’s warning comes as well-meaning “Pig Idea” environmental campaigners call for more waste foods to be fed to pigs as swill.
Whilst recognising that feeding pigs properly-treated and rigorously-tested foods such as unsold bread and vegetables can deliver significant environmental benefits, NPA warns that there is always a risk of regulatory breakdown, as happened in the 2001 national foot-and-mouth outbreak, when infected swill was fed to pigs on a Northumberland unit.
“We don’t want this campaign to give the public the mistaken impression that it is alright to feed waste food to pigs,” said National Pig Association general manager Dr Zoe Davies.
Feeding waste food from catering establishments including home kitchens and restaurants — even if it is only vegetables — has been banned since the 2001 national foot-and-mouth outbreak, which devastated countryside tourism and livestock farming and caused over six million farm animals to be compulsorily slaughtered.
The law also covers food waste from other premises, including food factories and distribution warehouses, that contains or has been in contact with animal by-products such as raw eggs, meat and fish products. None of these items may be fed to pigs, including pigs kept as pets.
“We appreciate that the Pig Idea campaigners have the best of intentions and have been at pains to explain all the legal issues but we remain concerned that promoting the image of pigs eating waste food is unhelpful,” said Zoe Davies.
“The pig industry already uses over a million tonnes per year of by-product from food manufacturing, but only as part of a tightly-regulated and audited process.”