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Farming Standards Advice - Guidance Leaflets

Guidance on the disposal of animal by-products and carcases

Animal by-products are defined as: 'entire bodies or parts of animals, products of animal origin, or other products obtained from animals that are not intended for human consumption'.

The Animal By-Products (Enforcement) (England) Regulations 2013 require that fallen farm animals (including stillborn animals) are collected and transported without undue delay to an approved premises for incineration, rendering, to technical plants or to authorised premises including for diagnostic, educational or research purposes, for taxidermy, knacker's yards, zoos, hunt kennels and maggot farms. Burial or burning is not permitted.

Carcases from fallen cattle aged over 48 months, not slaughtered for human consumption, must be tested for BSE. Animal by-products must be transported in covered leakproof containers/vehicles and be accompanied by a commercial document.

In the guide
Definition of 'animal by-products'
Categories and disposal
Derogations
BSE monitoring - cattle over 48 months
Collection and transportation
Documentation
Penalties

Definition of 'animal by-products'
Animal by-products are defined in article 3 of EU Regulation (EC) No 1069/2009 laying down health rules as regards animal by-products and derived products not intended for human consumption as: 'entire bodies or parts of animals, products of animal origin, or other products obtained from animals that are not intended for human consumption'. This includes catering waste, used cooking oil, former foodstuffs, butcher and slaughterhouse waste, blood, feathers, wool, hides and skins, fallen stock (including horses), pet animals, zoo and circus animals, hunt trophies, manure, ova, embryos, and semen not intended for breeding purposes. 'Animal by-product', for the purpose of this guide, includes:

  • animals and parts of animals that have died other than by being slaughtered for human consumption
  • where specified risk material has not been removed, entire bodies of dead animals containing specified risk material

Categories and disposal
Animal by-products can fall into one of three categories:

  • category 1 material is the highest risk, and consists principally of material that is considered a TSE risk, such as specified risk material (SRM - those parts of an animal considered most likely to harbour a disease such as BSE - for example, bovine spinal cord). Pet animals, zoo and circus animals and experimental animals are also classified as category 1 material
  • category 2 material includes fallen stock, manure and digestive content
  • category 3 material includes parts of animals that have been passed fit for human consumption in a slaughterhouse, but which are not intended for consumption, either because they are not parts of animals that we normally eat - for example, hides, hair, feathers, bones - or for commercial reasons

The Animal By-Products (Enforcement) (England) Regulations 2013 require that fallen farm animals, generally category 2 material, (including stillborn animals) are collected and transported without undue delay to one of the following:

  • approved premises:
    - for incineration
    - for rendering
  • technical plants
  • 'authorised premises':
    - for diagnostic, educational or research purposes
    - for taxidermy
    - knacker's yard
    - for feeding to zoo and circus animals, reptiles and birds of prey, dogs from recognised kennels or recognised packs of hounds, and maggots for fishing bait

For more information on what constitutes an approved, technical or 'authorised' premises and where these can be found, please visit the AHVLA (Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories) website.

Derogations
The EU allows member states to apply various derogations regarding the disposal of animal by-products (ABPs) and, amongst others, the government has applied the following derogations: burial or burning on-site of farm animal carcases is only permitted in parts of the Islands and Highlands of Scotland, Bardsey Island, Caldy Island, on the Isles of Scilly and Lundy Island. Disposal in this way is subject to strict rules and record keeping and does not include TSE suspects.

The burial of dead pet animals is allowed. The definition of 'pet animal' according to ABP legislation is: 'any animal belonging to species normally nourished and kept, but not consumed, by humans for purposes other than farming'. Normal farm species such as sheep, cattle, pigs, goats and poultry fall outside this definition and legally can never be regarded as pets and must be disposed of by an approved route other than burial.

The burial of horses is allowed. Under previous ABP legislation, the burial of horses was only permitted if they had been kept as pets. In England it is now permitted for all horses to be buried, whether they are pets or not. Before burying a horse, advice should be sought on the correct procedure - for example, on deciding the location of the burial site to take account of factors such as access by animals and the potential for leaching into watercourses.

Local authority and Environment Agency guidelines must always be followed. These are likely to require horse burial sites to:

  • be at least 250 metres away from any well borehole or spring that supplies water
  • be at least 30 metres from any other spring or watercourse, and at least 10 metres from a field drain
  • have at least one metre of subsoil below the bottom of the burial pit, allowing a hole deep enough for at least one metre of soil to cover the carcase
  • be free of water at the bottom of the hole, when first dug

BSE monitoring - cattle over 48 months
Since 12 January 2009, carcases from fallen cattle (not slaughtered for human consumption) aged over 48 months need to be tested for BSE. The free collection service for these carcases has now ended and farmers no longer need to contact animal-handling facilities. Instead they must contact a collector within 24 hours of death to arrange delivery to an approved sampling site.

If delivering the carcases themselves, they should contact an approved sampling site to agree to this within 24 hours, and must deliver the carcase within 48 hours. Contact your normal collector or the National Fallen Stock Company (NFSCo) on 0845 054 8888.

Collection and transportation
All animal by-products must be collected, identified and disposed of without undue delay, in order to prevent risks arising to public and animal health.

  • animal by-products must be transported in sealed new packaging, or covered leakproof containers or vehicles
  • containers must be dedicated to the use of specific categories of animal by-products, and where they are not they must be cleaned and disinfected after each use in order to prevent cross-contamination

Animal by-products must be identified in accordance with the Animal By-Products (Enforcement) (England) Regulations 2013:

  • category 1 material must be labelled as 'for disposal only'
  • category 2 material must be labelled 'not for animal consumption' (with limited exceptions)
  • category 3 material must be labelled as 'not for human consumption'

Documentation
The person consigning the animal by-product must keep a record of each consignment, and must ensure that identifying documentation accompanies the by-product during its transport (a commercial document). Such records must show as a minimum:

  • date of transport *
  • quantity and description of material *
  • category description of the material *
  • name and address of origin of material
  • name and address of transporter *
  • name and address of destination and approval/registration number (if applicable) *
  • signature of responsible person (generally the person producing the document)

If the document is produced by the consignor, it should be signed by the consignor. If the document is produced by the transporter, it should be signed by the transporter. Each movement of animal by-products and derived products must be accompanied by the top copy of the commercial document, which has to be left at the destination premises. The premises of origin and the transporter each retain a copy.

A commercial document template for your use is attached below:

Commercial document template - Word 70KB
Commercial document template - PDF 341KB

As a consignor of animal by-product waste you must keep a record showing the bullet points asterisked above. In most cases, the copy of the commercial document can serve as your record. However, it is advisable to have additional records in book form or on computer, as appropriate.

Commercial documents and all records relating to animal by-products must be retained for at least two years and produced on demand to an inspector.

You must ensure all animal by-products are covered/contained whilst awaiting collection/disposal to prevent animals/birds gaining access.

Penalties
Failure to comply with the requirements is an offence against the Animal By-Products (Enforcement) (England) Regulations 2013. A person guilty of an offence is liable on summary conviction to a maximum fine of £5,000 and/or to three months' imprisonment; and on conviction on indictment to a fine and/or to two years' imprisonment.

Please note
This leaflet is not an authoritative interpretation of the law and is intended only for guidance. Any legislation referred to, while still current, may have been amended from the form in which it was originally enacted. Please contact us for further information.

Relevant legislation
EU Regulation (EC) No 1069/2009 laying down health rules as regards animal by-products and derived products not intended for human consumption (Animal by-products Regulation)
Animal By-Products (Enforcement) (England) Regulations 2013

Last reviewed/updated: December 2013

© 2014 itsa Ltd on behalf of the Trading Standards Institute.