For questions about Processed Animal Proteins (PAPs), go to the dedicated PAPs – Questions and Answers page.
It is a factory that processes the unwanted meat by-products into a range of materials that can be reused or disposed of safely. The two main products of the plant are fat, known as tallow, and meat and bone meal.
High demand for animal products, has resulted in a large increase in the amount of animal by-products that must be disposed of safely. It is important to dispose of it in a way that does not pose a health risk to animals, humans or the environment.
In the EU, every year 328 million pigs, sheep, goats, beef and dairy cattle are slaughtered along with 6 billion chickens and turkeys. There is also 2.45 million tons of fallen stock – animals that die on farm or are culled due to disease risk. The majority of the material entering a rendering plant originates from slaughterhouses or farms but butcher shops, supermarkets, restaurants, animal shelters and vets also contribute.
All of this animal by-product is sent to meat rendering plants to be disposed of safely. At a European meat rendering plant, all waste will be categorised into one of three categories, depending on the level of risk and is processed and reused in different ways.
There are two types of meat rendering plants, the first is an integrated rendering plant, and operates alongside a slaughterhouses or poultry processing plant. The second is an independent rendering plant which receives its waste from a variety of sources and usually have several separate streams to process different types of waste.
A meat rendering plant is therefore a plant responsible for disposing of animal-by products and turning them into reusable materials safely.
Fat rendering can be a process that is undertaken personally in cooking or industrially, and is simply the separation of fats, proteins and water through heat and pressure. Industrially this is a process that is used in the meat rendering industry to sterilise and stabilise animal by-products allowing them to be reused.
Animal by-products need to be disposed of in a safe way; across the world huge numbers of animals are slaughtered for meat consumption which produces a significant quantity of inedible surplus material.
The fat rendering process is different depending on the source material and if it is edible or inedible. Edible rendering heats the materials in a melt tank and separates the protein solids from the fat and water. The fat and water is then heated with steam and edible fat is separated. Throughout this process heat contact is minimal and no cooking vapours are emitted. Inedible rendering on the other hand, can be both dry and wet, wet can be high cost and requires energy and water to boil the material. Dry rendering is when the animal by-product is dehydrated continuously till the fat is released. following this the protein and fat are separated.
There are many different methods of rendering fat, the one used depends on the source material and the desired product.
Petfood is made from a number of ingredients. Dry petfood is often a combination of cereals and Processed Animal Protein (PAP) – a by-product of the meat processing industry.
Waste meat generated from abattoirs and other source is sent to a rendering plant to be processed. Here the fat, water and protein is separated and the waste can re-enter the food chain.
In Europe, Only Category 3 material – meat that is fit for human consumption at the point of slaughter – can be reused in pet foods. Using PAP in petfoods reduces the need to import protein in crops like soya. Each year 1.67 million tonnes of rendered material is used in pet food.
If livestock dies on a farm it must be disposed of safely to minimise diseases risk. It is collected and sent to one of the following as soon as possible: hunt kennel, incinerator, renderer or maggot farm. Before this is done access to the fallen stock must be restricted and if it died of a notifiable disease steps must be taken to limit any further spread.
If it is sent to a meat rendering plant, it will be categorised as category two waste – not fit for human consumption. The material is sterilised and stabilised and reused in a variety of ways but it is not allowed to re-enter the food chain.
It is important for fallen stock to be treated in this way for the safety of people, livestock and the environment.
Any parts of animals which aren’t eaten are disposed of by rendering and converting them into useful products for reuse.
Animal by-products that are fit for human consumption at the point of slaughter are used in a variety of a applications including edible fats, pet food, oleochemicals and fertiliser. Any animal parts that are inedible or are considered to have a disease risk are processed separately and usually end up as solid or liquid fuel.
The process of rendering creates two main products; tallow and protein. How this is used is dependent on the risk category of the animal by-product before it is rendered. When an animal dies or is slaughtered there are strict laws both from the UK government, and the European parliament and council that dictate how the animal is to be treated, disposed of and reused.
In 2009 the European parliament and council formed regulation no. 1069/2009 on ‘laying down health rules as regards to animal by-products and derived products not intended for human consumption’; this determines how category one (ruminants and diseased animals) and category two (fallen stock and material not fit for human consumption) should be processed and how they can be reused. Category one can be used for fuel and biodiesel; category two has the additional usages of fertilizer biogas and fur feed.
Category three material is considered the lowest risk and is fit for human consumption at the point of slaughter. This can be used for a variety of products such as fish feed, pet food, animal feed, fur feed, bio gas, fertilizer, biodiesel, chemical, industry and edible fats. Which of these it becomes depends on if the waste is fit for human consumption, and what animal it comes from as it can’t be fed to animals of the same species. This is to minimise risks from transferable spongiform encepalopathies like BSE.
PAP and MBM are produced from different categories of animal by-product and as a result have very different uses. PAP is a biosecure feed ingredient with a high protein value and low carbon footprint. MBM cannot be used as a feed ingredient but is valued as a source of green energy and a raw material in a variety of industrial applications.
While PAP and MBM are both derived by means of the rendering process, the regulations governing the production of PAP ensures it is never produced in the same processing facility as meat and bone meal.
Meat rendering plants process millions of tonnes of food waste each year in the EU. It is essential that the waste from the meat and dairy sector be processed in this way to minimise the risk to people and the environment.
The process of meat rendering is very energy efficient as many of the production sites use carbon neutral resources. The materials that are being processed also provide the fuel for the meat rendering plants. The products that are then produced from the waste of the meat and dairy industry can be used in place of products that would have been produced by other means.
Category one, two and material waste all go to be reused as another product for consumption. Category one waste produces biodiesel which can be used in place of other sources of biofuels that require huge inputs of raw plant material. Category one material will also go to generate electricity for domestic and industrial consumption utilising a by-product in a more sustainable way.
Category two material goes to provide fertiliser for farms reusing some of the nutrition extracted from the soil when the meat was being produced. Category two material can also go to produce fur feed minimising the pressure on the environment to provide more food for fish farms and domestic animals.
The third category can re-enter the food chain as edible fats oils and spreads. The use of these materials minimises the strain on the environment through the demand for vegetable and palm oil. To produce these oils, large areas of rainforest are destroyed including the habitats of wild animals. using rendered fats as an alternative produces just 10% of the greenhouse gas emissions and also helps to protects the natural habitat of wild animals.
The meat rendering industry limits the impact of livestock production on the environment. It is an essential part of developing a circular economy and provides viable alternatives to many products with less CO2 emissions.