From ProMED, here are four items on the issue of EC nations (Germany,
Holland, France, and Belgium) feeding animal waste and sewage sludge
FECES AS ANIMAL FEEDS - EUROPE (03)
Date: Sat, 23 Oct 1999
From: Chan Yow Cheong
ProMED Regional Moderator for Asia
Source: BBC News, 22 Oct 1999 (edited)
The European Commission has given France an ultimatum to come up with plans
for tighter controls after it was revealed animals had been fed animal
waste, and possibly human waste, in feedstuffs. The French authorities have
15 days to come up with suggestions to supervise rendering plants, which
boil bones and other waste from slaughtered animals which is then sold on
to animal feed makers.
The commission launched its investigation in August after French media
reported animal feed had been contaminated with dangerous pesticides, heavy
metals and human waste.
A report published by the investigating scientists on Friday revealed how
they monitored controls on sewage sludge at rendering plants and studied
the use of sludge collected from waste water disposal systems.
The report says: "The mission identified deficiencies in the prohibition of
certain substances in the production of feeding stuff.
"Certain plants in the French rendering industry have used for years
prohibited substances such as sludge from the biological treatment of the
waste water or water from septic tanks from their own establishments or,
possibly, from their suppliers."
France argues since the waste is being heat treated, the resulting matter
is safe and can no longer be considered sewage sludge. The Commission
The report says: "It is still not fully clear if and how the French
authorities controlled the segregation between human waste and industrial
waste in the waste water disposal system and the subsequent recycling by
the rendering plants."
The report's findings come at an embarrassing time for the French
Government, which has been threatened with legal action by the commission
over its refusal to allow the sale of British beef on the grounds it may
still constitute a health risk.
Conservatives in the UK are now demanding a ban on the import of French meat.
Date 24 Oct, 1999
From: Martin Hugh-Jones <Mehj@mail.vetmed.lsu.edu>
Source: Countryside, 24 Oct 1999 [edited]
Three more European countries have been accused of adding sewage to animal
feed - 24 hours after it was disclosed French farmers were guilty of the
The use of sewage from animals and humans in feed is said to have taken
place in Germany, Holland and Belgium. Pigs, cattle and poultry are thought
to have been fed on it. Last night a food hygiene expert warned that the
practice was "inherently dangerous" and could create a BSE-style health
A European Union (EU) disclosure reported some French meat had been
produced from animals and birds reared on processed sewage caused outrage
among British farmers, already angered over the French government's refusal
to lift its ban on British beef.
It now appears that the practice has occurred elsewhere in the EU,
including Germany, a country which has a record of being obstructive
towards British beef.
German authorities have denied the reports, but Dutch health officials have
admitted finding human sewage being added during the manufacture of animal
feed. It is apparently perfectly normal in Holland to add sludge from
slaughterhouse water-purification systems to animal feed. At one plant, it
was discovered company lavatories were connected to the water system.In
Belgium, a regional farming report accused one waste-processing firm of
using sludge to make feed. Ingredients are said to have included waste
water from showers and lavatories as well as waste from abattoirs. The
Belgian agriculture minister, Jaak Gabriels, stated the practice has ceased.
The EU banned the use of effluent in animal feed in 1991, but sludge from
slaughterhouses, including faeces, is still commonly added to the remains
of animals for the manufacture of meat-and-bonemeal (MBM). This was banned
in Britain in 1996, but is still widely used elsewhere in Europe.
Professor Hugh Pennington, who conducted the inquiry into the _E. coli_
food poisoning outbreak which claimed 21 lives in Lanarkshire 3 years ago,
said: "This could be a re-run of the BSE problem, which started because we
were recycling dead beef into beef.
"Clearly, the material these animals have been getting is potentially full
of nasty bugs. It's a classic way of spreading disease by actually eating
manure. Now that I know more about what's been going on, I wouldn't buy
Martin Callanan, a Tory MEP, called on EU officials to investigate the use
of animal feed in all member states. "The European Commission has insisted
on high standards for our own producers. It's about time they insisted on
the same standards for producers in other parts of the Continent."
Conservative MPs (Minister of Parliment) want a ban on French meat,in
accordance with British farmers* demands. But Tony Blair backed the stance
of Nick Brown, the Agriculture Minister, who has refused to ban French meat
Archie Norman, the shadow minister for Europe, said Mr Brown was passing up
a "golden and legitimate" opportunity to act. He said: "We're not a nation
of wimps and the public expect decisive action." He called for an immediate
precautionary ban on all French meat products.
The European Commission said a questionnaire on the use of sewage sludge in
animal feed had been urgently sent to all member states. A spokeswoman said
France, Germany, Holland and Belgium had claimed the problem had been
resolved. But she could not guarantee sludge was not still being used.
The Commission has already sent a reminder to member countries that
processing "sludge from sewage plants treating waste waters" is prohibited.
Date: 24 Oct 1999
From: Martin Hugh-Jones <Mehj@mail.vetmed.lsu.edu>
Source: Sunday Times 24 Oct 1999 [edited]
French farmers were unabashed yesterday about their standards of hygiene
despite an EU order telling them to stop feeding their chicken and pigs
slurry and human excrement.
Serge Roumagnac, a farmer outside the village of Caumont, northwest of
Toulouse, swept aside concerns and laughed at suggestions that traditional
French farming methods were not superior to Britain's high-tech, highly
Roumagnac acknowledged the reports last week of farm waste being used in
the production of French chicken and pig feed. "Yes, these things go on,
but not on the scale that you have had in Britain," he said.
"You know we have always taken our produce more seriously and we have not
allowed it to be industrialised in the way you have. Our slaughter methods
may still be traditional in some cases, but we have not abused the food
chain so the risks are not the same.
"Our food is anchored in the soil. This is what brings us together in our
stand against the beef with hormones from the United States or the risks of
the mad cow from Great Britain."
His views are not shared by Tim Yeo, the shadow agriculture minister, who
will next week embark on a fact-finding mission to prove French standards
of hygiene and food production are light years behind the UK.
The Tories are determined to show France's ban on British beef is
hypocritical and intend to collect photographic evidence from shops, farms
and slaughterhouses that standards in France fall short of UK and EU
Archie Norman, shadow spokesman on Europe and chairman of the supermarket
giant Asda, said last week's sewage scandal alone showed the diversity of
standards. "If a British farmer had been discovered feeding animals with
sewage- based products, 1,000 bureaucrats would have descended on him and
the farm would have been closed instantly." British food campaigners claim
a trip to any French butcher or abattoir will show up practices illegal in
French beef is still displayed at markets with spinal tissue and brains,
livestock carcasses are not inspected by qualified veterinarians before
going to market, and pigs can still be fed on pig bone marrow.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he described the practice of
feeding chickens sewage as "horrible" - but stressed it was important to
keep the law on Britain's side: "The European commission are doing the
right thing. They have examined the issue and are insisting the French
comply with the rules the rest of us comply with."
Date: 25 Oct 1999
From: Martin Hugh-Jones <Mehj@mail.vetmed.lsu.edu>
Source: The Times, 25 Oct 1999 [edited]
The British Government has failed to act on warnings from public health
advisers that French meat should be banned after a damning European Union
Independent scientists told government officials they should put in place
"a major incident plan" as they did earlier this year over the dioxin
scandal in Belgium. The experts have told senior officials there should be
a tougher response to the "illegal and unsafe" practices uncovered by an EU
veterinary report about the use of human and animal waste and of meat and
bone-meal in French animal feed.
Senior scientists were canvassed for their views by government officials on
Saturday and made clear their concerns about the possible impact on public
Max Johnston, Professor of Veterinary Public Health at the Royal Veterinary
College, and a leading adviser to the European Commission on BSE, was
insistent last night: "I think a major incident plan should be put in
operation immediately, at least in the short term until France has proven
these practices are no longer going on."
Professor Johnston,continued, "The bottom line is if it is against the law
of the land to do these things the food should come off the market
immediately." He questioned why the Government was prepared to act quickly
over the dioxin scare but not over the latest French scandal. He described
the Government as "pretty lukewarm" and said he had been "extremely
frustrated listening to Mr Brown". Tim Yeo, the Shadow Agriculture
Minister, will today urge Mr Brown to make an emergency statement in the
Commons about the crisis.
Many scientists believe the contaminated food products could trigger a
BSE-style crisis and increase the number of human cases of "mad cow"
disease known as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD). They are
concerned by the use of meat and bone meal in animal feed, a practice
banned in the United Kingdom -and linked directly to these brain diseases
such as BSE and scrapie.
They also fear the risk of new outbreaks of bacterial infections such as
_E. coli_, _Salmonella_ spp. and _Campylobacter_ spp., but there is
anxiety about increased resistance to antibiotics, the possibility of
poisoning from cadmium and mercury and of incidents of tapeworm.
The problem for the Government is that the latest food scandal from France
has coincided with the controversy over British beef export and the two
issues appear to have become blurred.
The Conservatives believe the Government's lack of action over this latest
French food scare is being driven by political tactics to get France to
accept British beef exports.
Yet Mr Yeo urged the Government to think again on its response. "They would
be entirely justified in banning the import of French meat, particularly
from chickens and pigs, because they are thought to be most at risk. There
are legal grounds and scientific grounds and they should act now. The
danger of not doing this is consumers will decide for themselves and we
might have a full-scale trade war, which we do not want."
Ministers are anxious to learn whether the EU is to start legal action
against France for refusing to allow British exports. A sub-group of the
scientific committee in Brussels today will review the French challenge
over the safety of British beef.
France could also face legal action from the Meat and Livestock Commission
and the National Farmers' Union. Both organisations plan to meet lawyers
this week to discuss the viability of such a move.
The new scandal in France also throws into question its approach to BSE.
The number of incidents there is small, about 21 to October this year.
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