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Meat And Bone Meal In Feedstuffs Environmental Sciences Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 2909 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Animal production in the Netherlands and the rest of Europe is a sustainable developed way of farming. A lot of waste products are recycled, but that is not the case for all waste products for example meat- and bone meal (MBM).

First an introduction of sustainable development is made. This common definition for sustainable development was used in the so-called Brundtland-rapport (WCED, 1987). In this rapport sustainable production or sustainable development is formulated as such:

“Sustainable development is development that meets the need for the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Animal production is divided in intensive livestock farming, dairy farming and extensive beef and sheep production. The intensive livestock sector is a well developed agricultural sector in the Netherlands and the rest of Europe. This sector is named intensive due to the land intensive way of farming. Intensive livestock farming are mostly pig or poultry farms. The demand for feed is very high in Europe. Due to the high resource prices for feed, the feed suppliers search for alternative feedstuffs. In this search, the animal feed sector want the use of meat and bone meal as feedstuff. Due o different policies in the EU it is not allowed to use MBM as feedstuff.

In the coming decades the demand for bio-energy rise very fast. Animal waste can also used as bio-energy due to the high energy value. In this study we look also for a good alternative use of meat waste if the EU decides that policies on meat and bone meal stay.

Problem scope

The meat industry in the Netherlands is very well developed with a big supply of pork and poultry meat. Big companies as Vion food and Plukon Poultry slaughter a large amount of the animals that were kept in the Netherlands. Slaughtering numbers in the Netherlands in 2006 are 833.000 tons of pork and 715.000 tons of poultry (PVE, 2007). Beside the meat, slaughtering also produces waste. Most of the waste is bone and skin waste but also some meat is wasted. In the past this waste was used for feed. Meat and bones (MBM) have a high feeding value due to the good degradable fat and protein components. In the 90’s Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) was found in Europe. This disease gave big economical and social troubles in Western Europe. The origin of BSE was in the use of sheep meat in bovine concentrate feed (WHO, 2002). To prevent the livestock sector for more economical setbacks, the EU made some regulations considering the use of meat and bone meal in animal feed. With those new regulation also monogastrics such as pigs and chickens were not allowed to consume slaughtering waste. In other countries outside the EU, these restrictions on the use of MBM in feed do not apply.

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The high prices of resources for feed like grains and soy is the driving force for the feed industry to look for alternative feed ingredients. Meat and bone meal can be an alternative ingredient for feed. By using Meat- and bone meal for feed stuffs it will no longer be a waste product for the meat industry. The policy of the EU on the use of meat and bone meal for feed creates a bad market position for the EU-meat industry in worldwide meat-trade. However, it is important to prevent problems like BSE in the past, so safe solutions for MBM has to be found.


Meat- and bone meal can be a solution for the rising demand of resources and reduce the increasing feed prices.

Research questions:

What are the consequences of using meat- and bone meal at an agricultural level, a policy level and a social/society level?

Could meat- and bone meal be a useful tool for bio-energy?

The origin and history of using meat- and bone meal

The first introduction of advisements on the use of meat by-products was made by Liebig in 1865. He recommended its use in pig feeding. A further recommendation on the use of meat products in animal feeds was made by Keller in 1908 (Cooke, 1998).

In 1932 the Fertilisers and Feedingstuffs Regulations 1932 (MAF, 1932) introduced a improved definition of feeding meat and bone meal. The feeds should not contain less than 40 % protein and not more than 4 % salt. This definition remained in force during the 1970’s when the UK entered the European Community.

Until the 1980’s feed companies were able to determine the feed composition themselves. They could use any nutrients they wanted. Of course this nutrients have to have some standards, which were determined by legislation.

The prohibition of using meat and bone meal has a history which dated from 1989. During the 1990’s this prohibition is becoming much stricter than it was before. Due to the BSE-epidemic and the presumption that feed plays a role in the distribution of BSE, legislation changed and using meat and bone meal of ruminants for ruminants wasn’t legal to use anymore. In 1996 this legislation changed again and it wasn’t allowed to import meat and bone meal from the UK. This was done, because of the BSE-epidemic in the UK at that moment.

Nutritional value of meat- and bone meal

Meat-and bone meal (MBM) has a high nutritional value, it is rich in protein and minerals. However, this quality isn’t always consistent (Hendriks et al., 2004) differences in nutritional quality are mainly due to variation in factory’s that use different methods (batch-dry or wet rendering) to render the MBM. There are 14 different MBM samples tested from various suppliers in the U.S. and Canada to come up with mean values. On a air-dry basis MBM has 7.7% moisture, 51.6% crude protein, 12.3% ether extract and 22.8% ash. Ether extract is soluble organic components that mainly consist out of fats and fatty acids. The 22.8% ash consist out of 10% Ca and 4% P (Parson et al., 1997). The latter is ideal for chicken feed as they need Ca and P for eggshell formation.

In many countries MBM is stored for a long time but it is shown that nutritional quality remains good when storage last up to 9 months (Hendriks et al., 2005).

Possible alternatives for MBM are Soy bean meal and Corn gluten meal because of their high protein percentage of 47% and 61% respectively, however protein quality of animal products is higher then plant proteins (Schothorst Feed Research, 2008).

Resource and feed prices increase dramatically

Last year feed prices went up to two times higher than previous years. The FAO states that this high prices will remain for the next year due to production problems and low stocks (FAO, 2007). With the raising world population demand for food and thus feed will only increase. These problems will be common for the future. Production innovations needs to take place, with the future demands it will be time for a second green revolution.

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Policy on the use of meat and bone meal in feed


This chapter is an introduction on the policy regulation on the use of MBM in the world and especially in the EU. Due to policy regulations it is not allowed to use meat and bone meal in animal feed. This policy causes the extra use of plant origin protein. In the last year 2007 the prices of plant protein rises up to levels that are twice as high as the beginning of that year (FAO, 2007). The concentrate feed producers searched for other protein resources. MBM is a very protein rich feed ingredient but due to diseases as BSE and scrapie there is a ban on the use of MBM as feed ingredient. First a short introduction on the policy and use of MBM in the past decades before the policy ban on MBM. Then a description of the current situation. The most important topic is the policy in the future for MBM. The effects of that policy for the use of MBM in the future as feed ingredient are described in the last paragraph.

Historic policy on using MBM in feed

The use of MBM in feed has a long history. Since January 1st 2001 the use of MBM for feed is banned. In the UK the ban on MBM is from 1996 (Brookes, 2001). The ban on the use of MBM in feed is because of the BSE outbreak in the UK.

Current policy on the use of MBM in feed

The current policy on MBM use for feed is the same as in 2001. This policy is introduced because of the outbreak of BSE and the relation between BSE and use of MBM in feed of ruminants. The current policy is a total ban of MBM in animal feed. Also human food waste with meat is not allowed to use in animal feed. The reason of the ban is good because of the BSE problem, but this is a specific problem for the feeding of ruminants as sheep and cattle. The reason is that ruminant animals digest protein in another way than monogastric animals.

Ruminant animals are herbivorous and no omnivorous or carnivorous. Pig and poultry are omnivorous animals and have the capacity to digest animal protein on another way as ruminants. Feed suppliers and agricultural organizations are lobbying for the use of MBM for only pig and poultry. The ban in the EU of using MBM for feed causes an extra demand on plant protein product. The use of MBM for feed before the ban on its use for feed was 1 million tones. The replacement for MBM causes an extra demand for plant protein of 1.32 million tones. Explained in soy use in the EU, MBM protein is 11% of the total use of soy in the EU. Also this ban has an effect on the worldwide feed protein trade. It is totally impractical for the EU to replace that soy production on their own soil. So that 11% of the soy is 3,5 times the EU production of soy. When the EU want to do anything to compensate the EU-ban with own protein production, an extra production must be stimulated of oilseed products like rapeseed. For rapeseed there must be 1 million hectares extra planted for the compensation of the animal protein use ban for feed. These complications of the ban on the use of MBM were discussed in the EU. Different policy measures were discussed to stimulate arable farmers to grow protein rich plants as soy etc. The EU has no good policy for compensating the ban on MBM for feed (Brookes, 2001).

Future policy on the use of MBM in feed

Due to the rising feed ingredient cost, both on energy and protein ingredients, feed companies searched for other resources to use for feed. MBM is a good ingredient also for the energy and the easy digestible protein components. The amino-acids in MBM are essential for monogastrics as pig and poultry. This is the most urgent reason to use MBM for feed. This is in the way, monogastrics as pig and poultry are omnivorous. The digestible tract of those animals is adjusted on the digestion of feed from bestial origin as worms, insects, snails, etc. The essential amino-acids in MBM, makes the use of MBM very interesting.

These facts make feed companies lobbying on the EU policy makers. The Dutch Minister of Agriculture, ms. Verburg, lobbied in the EU for the use of MBM in pig and poultry feed (AGD, 2008). All lobbyist choose only for the use of MBM in pig and poultry feed. Reason for that is the omnivorous digestion of pig and poultry. Also they choose for a mixed use of MBM. MBM of pigs is fed to poultry and MBM of poultry will be fed to pigs. This shall be done, because of the epidemiologic risk on the use of MBM from the same species as consume the MBM-feed. Pigs don’t feed with MBM from pig origin (De Lange, 2008).

Future policy on MBM is very unclear. Some member states of the EU are strong against the use of MBM in feed. They want that the EU have a ‘healthy’ animal sector. In their opinion, the epidemiological risk is too high. Feed technologist gives the certainty that there is no epidemiological risk on the use of MBM in feed for pig and poultry. Because of the heating of the MBM before the use of it in feed. The member states who are against the use of MBM in feed are aware of the civil perception on the use of MBM for feed. Animal scientist and feed companies had to deal with the civil perception on the use of MBM in feed. The total receipts of the use of MBM must be comparing with the cost of a possible fall in consumption of meat.

A big research on the civil perception of the use of MBM in feed is very important for both feed companies and the total livestock industry. Having a license to produce is very important for especially the EU-livestock farmers. What Brazil livestock farmers do is not important for EU civilians. A cost-receipt comparison is very important for the EU policy makers and the lobbyist of the feed companies

Possible use of meat- and bone meal in the future

For the last fifty years petroleum-derived fuels have been the main energy source in the European Union. However, the increasing oil prices have some negative effects on the use of this energy source. First from an economic point of view, the prices of the energy source increase dramatically. This has a lot of economic consequences for the different countries in the European Union. The competition with countries which don’t have this high energy source costs is very high and the European Union is losing it’s position as a big player at a lot of different markets. From an environment point of view. The last year’s there is a huge believe that the emission of CO2 has to be lowered. From a social welfare point of view there are introduced some alternative fuels derived from non-petroleum sources, including biomass and waste products. The problem of this sources is that they are ethically are discussed. A lot of people have the opinion that feed should not be used for fuel. The EU stated some objectives to substitute 2 % of the consumption of the transport fuels by biofuels by the year 2005 and 5,75 % by 2010. When the EU this objectives wants to reach, it is necessary to look for new and cheap sources of raw materials (Mittelbach & Remschmidt, 2004).

MBM has an high energy value and a high protein value. MBM can be used in methane digesters or as biodiesel. The biodiesel is made out of the fat component of the slaughtering waste (Nebel & Mittelbach, 2006). For methane digesters MBM is a good nutrition component for the methane bacteria’s. The protein component in MBM is a good growing factor for the bacteria. More bacteria gives more methane and a better digestion of the C components to methane (CH4). In most EU countries its not allowed to put MBM in methane digesters. This is because of the use of the digested waste for fertilizing agricultural soils. There is no proof on the risk of the use of MBM for methane digestion. Most EU members are aware of the risk of disease outbreak through the digestion of MBM in methane digesters.

The fat of slaughterhouses is used for biodiesel on a small scale. This is only the fat component and not the muscle and bone component. In that case the fat component must be divided from the other part of the meat and bone waste.

Other option for the use of MBM is the combustion in energy plants. The MBM is burned with coals for the heating of energy plants (Fryda et al, 2007). This is a possibility for the future and is yet also practiced in the Netherlands.

Some big meat companies as VION Foods use meat and bone waste for the production of gelatin. This product is manufactured with skin and bone rests. Gelatin is produce for the medicine industry to make capsules.


The ban on the use of MBM for feed is only based on the fear for diseases. This fear is based on the interaction component in the BSE crises. Due to feeding cattle with meat and bone meal they become infected with BSE. Human were infected by Creutzfeld Jacob. Creutzfeld Jacob is the human form of BSE and is direct related on the consumption of beef. This fear gives civilians and politicians the perception that MBM use in feed is very risk full. This risk gives the fear to the EU population. But this fear is not based on a scientific base. Scientific evidence shows that MBM use for pig and poultry feed isn’t risky. One remark on this is that animals wouldn’t be fed with waste products from there own species (De Lange, 2008).


The biggest problem on the use of meat and bone meal is the unclearness of the disease risks. Both in the use for feed and the use for methane digesters. Because of this it is in the Netherland not allowed to use MBM for feed or methane digesters. Combustion and use for biodiesel, however it is allowed in practice. MBM can be digested but not for agricultural use. The waste of the digestion must be combusted in energy plants or destruction plants. So there is a use for MBM in the future but not for animal feed. On the use for feed it is only for monogastric omnivorous animals. Ruminants won’t fed with MBM. But the current policy is a totally ban of MBM for feed in the whole EU. Furthermore when legalizing MBM in feedstuff it will release some stress on the market for the demand of high quality feed in feedstuffs which can lead to reduction of the feed prices as it will cut in the demands. However further research may be needed on the subject. Also ethical discussion on MBM may play a part in the view of civilians.


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