Guidance

Animal by-products: collection, storage and disposal

Check the categories of ABPs and the regulations for their collection, storage, transportation, treatment and disposal.

Introduction

Animal by-products (ABPs) are entire animal bodies, parts of animals, products of animal origin or other products obtained from animals that are not fit or intended for human consumption. They must be dealt with in accordance with strict regulations designed to prevent harm to people, animals and the environment. ABPs are categorised by the risks they pose and the methods used to deal with them.

This guide explains the different categories of ABPs, how they can be collected, stored and transported, and how they can be treated, used and disposed of. Your Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) Office and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) can give advice on dealing with ABPs.

For contact details of your local AHVLA use the postcode search tool on the AHVLA website.

Types and treatments of animal by-products

ABPs are made up of:

  • whole animal carcasses
  • parts of carcasses
  • products of animal origin not intended for human consumption

Types of ABPs include:

  • catering waste (including used cooking oil) from commercial and household kitchens
  • former foodstuffs of animal origin from food manufacturers and retailers
  • butcher and slaughterhouse waste
  • blood
  • feathers
  • wool
  • hides and skins
  • fallen stock - see the guide on fallen stock 
  • dead pet animals
  • dead zoo animals
  • hunt trophies
  • manure
  • ova, embryos and semen (when not destined for breeding purposes)

ABPs are classified into three categories - based on their potential risk to animals, the public and the environment.

Category 1 ABPs

Category 1 material is the highest risk, and consists principally of material that is considered a TSE risk, such as Specified Risk Material (those parts of an animal considered most likely to harbour a disease such as BSE, eg bovine brain & spinal cord).

Dead pet animals, zoo and experimental animals are also classified as category 1 material. The risk from these animals may also be high, for example due to the level of veterinary drugs and residues they may contain; the fact that adequate diagnoses of the exact cause of death of exotic animals can be difficult to achieve and; some species are known to harbour TSEs and may carry other diseases.

Wild animals may be classified as category 1 material when they are suspected of carrying a disease communicable to humans or animals. Catering waste from means of international transport (ie which has come from outside the EU) is also category 1 due to the risk from exotic diseases.

These materials must be disposed of by incineration or processing (pressure rendering) followed by incineration. For more information, see the guide on disease prevention. Pet, zoo, and experimental animals are also classified as Category 1, although you are allowed to bury your pet animals. You can contact your local authority for guidance on pet burials.

Since 4 March 2011 zoos have been able to apply for an authorisation from the AHVLA to allow them to feed Category 1 fallen stock - such as entire deceased antelope, zebras, etc - to their carnivorous animals (eg big cats).

Category 2 ABPs

Category 2 material is also high risk material and includes fallen stock, manure and digestive tract content. Category 2 is also the default status of any animal by-product not defined as either category 1 or category 3 material. For more information, see the guide on disease notification: duties of farmers

You can dispose of Category 2 materials by incineration and rendering, or at an authorised landfill site if previously processed to the required standard. You are permitted to recycle some Category 2 ABPs for uses other than feed after appropriate treatment, such as:

  • biogas
  • composting
  • oleo-chemical products

For more information, see the guide on minimising farm waste, composting and recycling.

Category 3 ABPs

Category 3 materials are low risk materials. 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 (hides, hair, feathers, bones etc) or for commercial reasons.

Category 3 material also includes former foodstuffs (waste from food factories and retail premises such as butchers and supermarkets). Catering waste, including domestic kitchen waste is category 3 material.

You can use or dispose of Category 3 ABPs in various ways, including:

  • incineration
  • rendering
  • authorised landfill, following processing
  • composting
  • anaerobic digestion
  • being used in an approved petfood plant
  • being used in a technical plant

Disposing of ABPs

You must dispose of ABPs using the appropriate method for the category of waste. These methods include:

  • rendering or incineration
  • landfill - eg for catering waste and certain former foodstuffs
  • composting
  • biogas generation

Catering waste must not be fed to farmed animals.

You can dispose of former foodstuffs, such as out-of-date produce, by:

  • incineration
  • rendering
  • composting
  • use in biogas plants

Food manufacturers or retailers who generate small quantities of ABP waste (i.e. less than 20kg per week of low-risk Category 3 food waste such as raw meat and fish) can dispose of this outside of ABP controls.

For more information about ABP classification and disposal, see the Use and disposal of ABPs information on the AHVLA website. 

For contact details of your local AHVLA office use the postcode search tool on the Defra website.

Premises for processing animal by-products

Premises that receive, handle, use, treat or destroy ABPs must be registered or approved under the ABP Regulations.

There are various premises that handle ABPs and require approval, including:

  • processing (rendering) plants
  • incineration plants that only incinerate ABPs
  • biogas plants
  • composting plants
  • petfood plants
  • intermediate and storage plants

Other plants and operators must be registered, e.g. technical plants and transporters of ABPs.

The AHVLA, which is an agency of Defra, is responsible for inspecting and registering or approving premises for treating ABPs in the UK, except Northern Ireland.

Lists of registered or approved animal by-product premises in Great Britain is available on the AHVLA website.

For information and advice about registered or approved premises and local disposal routes for ABPs, you can contact your local AHVLA office

Types of approved premises for ABPs

Different categories of ABP are dealt with in different types of premises.

Premises should state which categories of ABPs they handle:

  • intermediate plants - hold and may prepare raw ABPs before transportation to their final destinations. Category 1 and 2 intermediate plants may also perform tasks such as hide and skin removal or post mortems
  • storage plants - store processed ABPs, such as meat- and bone-meal and tallow, before use or destruction
  • incineration plants - only dispose of animal carcasses or parts of carcasses - these plants require approval under the ABP regulations
  • processing (rendering) plants - cook ABPs at high temperatures and pressures to remove water and separate fat (tallow) from protein material, which may be dried to produce meat- and bone-meal
  • composting plants - carry out composting of catering waste and Category 3 ABPs
  • biogas plants - carry out biogas treatments for catering waste and Category 3 ABPs
  • petfood plants - use only Category 3 ABPs as raw ingredients, they cannot use ABPs that pose a health risk or which come from animals that have died on farm

Transportation of animal by-products

ABPs must be collected and carried in leakproof, covered containers or vehicles, or sealed new packaging, and kept separately from other categories of by-product.

There are restrictions on who can transport ABPs, and the locations at which they can be disposed of. In addition, special care must be taken when loading and unloading ABPs.

Operators wishing to transport ABPs need to be registered to do so. Contact your local AHVLA office for details.

Anyone transporting ABPs other than manure must complete a commercial document before transportation. There is no standard commercial document - it can be an invoice, consignment or transfer note - but you must record the origin, quantity and description of the ABP, the date it is being transported, the carrier and the destination. The completed form stays with the ABP during transit and is given to the receiver. The sender and carrier must keep copies for at least two years.

For more information about Commercial Documents, you can contact your AHVLA.

For contact details of your local AHVLA office use the postcode search tool on the AHVLA website.

Disposal of fallen stock

The disposal of fallen stock and ABPs not intended for human consumption is regulated in England by the Animal By-Products (Enforcement) (England) Regulations 2011. Similar legislation applies in the rest of the UK. These Regulations enforce the directly applicable requirements of the EU Animal By-Products Regulation 1069/2009 and EU Implementing Regulation 142/2011.

‘Fallen stock’ can be any animal that has:

  • died of natural causes or disease on the farm
  • been killed on the farm for reasons other than human consumption

Local information on the disposal of animal carcasses is available from your local AHVLA office.

The National Fallen Stock Company Ltd, a not for profit industry-led community interest company offers a collection service for farmers and horse owners. Further information is available at: www.nfsco.co.uk.

The Licensed Animal Slaughterers’ & Salvage Association can provide a members list of companies which provide a collection service for farmers and horse owners. Further information is available at: www.lassa.org.uk.

For more information, see the guide on fallen stock.

Biosecurity and fallen stock

Biosecurity measures are of paramount importance in case the animal has died of a contagious and thus notifiable disease. You must remove any fallen stock to an area to which other livestock and wildlife have no access. Where possible, eg for poultry, young stock, small ruminants, etc, you should store the animals until collection in leak proof, vented and covered containers.

You must immediately notify your local AHVLA office if you suspect your stock may be infected with or have died from a notifiable disease, or you have had sudden/unexpected deaths in your livestock.

For contact details of your local AHVLA office use the postcode search tool on the AHVLA website.

For more information on biosecurity, see the guide on controlling disease: the basics and the guide on disease notification: duties of farmers.

Disposing of fallen stock

The ban on burying or burning fallen stock in the open is to prevent disease being transmitted through infectious residues in the soil, or through the pollution of air or groundwater. In the UK, the only exceptions to this ban are:

  • in remote areas - parts of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, Bardsey Island and Caldy Island in Wales, and the Scilly Isles and Lundy Island in England
  • during outbreaks of notifiable disease - if there is a lack of capacity at rendering plants and incinerators, or if transporting carcasses would spread disease

When you find fallen stock, you should arrange for it to go to an approved:

  • knacker
  • hunt kennel
  • incinerator
  • renderer
  • maggot farm

You can do this either by private arrangement or via the National Fallen Stock Company. For more information, you can contact the NFSCo at www.nfsco.co.uk.

To find an approved knacker, hunt kennel, incinerator, maggot farm or renderer, you should contact your local AHVLA office. You must immediately contact AHVLA if you think an animal has died of a notifiable disease.

For contact details of your local AHVLA office use the postcode search tool on the Defra website.

Fallen cattle aged over 48 months

Fallen cattle over 48 months of age must be tested for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) - a form of Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE). Fallen cattle over 24 months that were born outside Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK must also be tested for BSE.

You must contact a collector within 24 hours of your animal’s death, to arrange delivery to an approved sampling site within 72 hours. If you are delivering the carcass yourself, you must contact an approved sampling site to agree this within 24 hours and must deliver the carcass within 72 hours of the animal’s death.

Fallen cattle aged 48 months or under should be disposed of in accordance with APB legislation.

You can download a list of approved premises for TSE testing of fallen cattle from the AHVLA website

For more information, see the guide on fallen stock.

Composting and incinerating animal by-products

Category 3 ABPs, including catering waste and former foodstuffs, can be treated in composting or biogas plants approved for the purpose by the AHVLA. Certain very limited types of Category 2 material can also be used in composting and biogas plants. These include:

  • manure
  • digestive tract content
  • milk and milk products
  • egg and egg products
  • colostrum

You can also see the guide on minimising farm waste, composting and recycling.

Composting and biogas plants

The current EU standards allow Category 3 ABPs with a maximum particle size of 12 millimetres to be treated in an approved composting or biogas plant at 70°C for one hour.

For plants treating only catering waste, and not other types of ABPs (except manure, digestive tract content, milk, milk based products and colostrum), alternative national composting and biogas treatment standards were established following a comprehensive risk assessment. These standards are set out in the Authorisation D6

Time, temperature and particle size requirements for composting and biogas plants

System Minimum temperature Minimum time Maximum particle size
Composting (closed reactor) 60°C Two days 400 millimetres
Biogas 57°C Five hours 50 millimetres
Composting (closed reactor) or biogas 70°C One hour 50 millimetres
Composting (housed windrow) 60°C Eight days, during which windrow must be turned at least three times at intervals of no less than two days 400 millimetres

In addition to these processes, additional barriers or treatment processes must be used to ensure that raw material is properly and securely treated. These barriers are as follows:

  1. Raw material must be catering waste that does not include meat.
  2. When material is composted, a second stage is required using any of the above standards. For this stage, the windrowing can be done in the open as long as the time, temperature and turning requirements are fulfilled.
  3. Material must be stored for at least 18 days - which can be in the open.

Biogas plants must include one of the additional barriers:

Composting plants must use either barrier (2) or both barriers (1) and (3).

For further information, find composting and biogas in approved plants information on the AHVLA website.

Alternative approval under Regulation (EC) 142/2011

Composting and biogas plants may also be approved by alternative methods as specified in Annex V of Regulation (EC) 142/2011, and provided for in England by Authorisation D5. Under this option, approvals are issued according to satisfactory demonstration of sufficient pathogen kill in the treatment process.

Exception for home and small scale composting and biogas plants

All composting and biogas plants treating Category 3 ABPs and catering waste must be inspected and approved by the AHVLA. The only exception is for small scale and/or domestic use where there is no risk to livestock, so people can compost in their back gardens in small community projects can operate without needing an approval. AHVLA have provided guidance and a simple exercise to assess whether a site can operate under the exception. This is available on the AHVLA website.

For further information visit the AHVLA composting and biogas pages.

For contact details of your local AHVLA Office use the postcode search tool on the AHVLA website.

Download an application form to treat ABPs and catering waste in composting or biogas plants from the AHVLA website.

Incinerators

Regulations apply to most activities that involve burning waste, including burning waste for fuel to ensure that incineration plants achieve high standards of effective emission control to the air, soil, and surface or ground water.

Incineration plants that only burn animal carcasses or parts of carcasses require approval under the ABP regulations, but are exempt from some requirements of the Waste Incineration Directive. Plants which burn other types of ABP - such as former foodstuffs, catering waste and manure, processed products (eg, meat- and bone-meal and tallow) - must be authorised under the Waste Incineration Directive.

Download a list of approved premises for incineration/co-incineration plants from the AHVLA website.

Animal by-products as feedstuffs

A very limited number of ABPs can be used as feedstuffs for farm animals, subject to certain conditions.

Milk and milk products

You can use unprocessed milk and milk products as feed for farmed animals if specific conditions are met. Products include raw or pasteurised milk or milk products, whey from non-heat treated milk, or cleaning water used in contact with pasteurised or raw milk. They also include dairy former foodstuffs such as cheese, yoghurt, butter, cream, yoghurt and ice cream.

Processing plants supplying products with a minimum content of 80 per cent milk or milk-product - and the farms that use them for feed - must be registered with AHVLA. This is to enable a rapid control response and traceability in the event of a disease outbreak.

If you process milk and supply these products for animal feed, or to farms feeding them to farmed animals, you must provide the following information:

  • trading or organisation name
  • full address
  • contact name
  • telephone number
  • email address
  • whether the business is a processor or a farm

In addition:

  • you must give a list of farms and/or intermediaries that are supplied, and the type of product supplied
  • farms must give details of the supplier(s) and the type of product that is received

Details can be sent by email, post or fax to:

AHVLA Central Operations Delivery Team
Block C, Government Buildings
Worcester
WR5 2LQ
Telephone: 01905 763355
Fax: 01905 768649

Email: AH.CentralOpsDelivery@animalhealth.gsi.gov.uk

You can also call the AHVLA Helpline on 01905 768 862.

Other ABPs

It is an offence to feed meat, fish, catering waste - whether processed or not - and most other products of animal origin to ruminants, pigs or poultry.

Milk and milk-based products and biscuits, bakery waste, pasta, chocolate, sweets and similar products that contain ABPs such as rennet or melted fat, milk or eggs, can be fed to livestock providing the ABPs are not the main ingredient.

The collection and use of animal by-product (ABP) material for feeding to animals, either directly or as an ingredient of animal feed, may be authorised under conditions which ensure the control of risks to public and human health.

The material must come from animals which were not killed or died as a result of the presence or suspected presence of a disease communicable to animals or humans and final users must be registered.

Adequate measures must be in place to ensure against cross contamination by meat and other products of animal origin.

Legislation

The Animal By-Products (Enforcement) (England) Regulations No.2011/881. These Regulations enforce the directly applicable requirements of the EU Animal By-Products Regulation 1069/2009 and EU Implementing Regulation 142/2011, which entered into force on 4 March 2011.

Enforcement

Local authorities (usually trading standards) are responsible for enforcement of animal by-products legislation in England, except in licensed slaughterhouses, cutting plants and cold stores. Find your local authority.

The Food Standards Agency is responsible for enforcement of animal by-products legislation in licensed slaughterhouses, cutting plants and cold stores on behalf of Defra. AHVLA is responsible for inspection and approval of animal by-products premises on behalf of Defra.

Alternative methods for use or disposal of ABPs

In order to take account of progress in science & technology, Regulation (EC) No 1069/2009 allows alternative methods for use or disposal of animal by-products (or derived products) to be authorised as ‘alternative methods’ throughout the Community. These alternative methods may only be used once they have been assessed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and implemented in EU legislation.

If you have a proposal for an alternative method for use or disposal of animal by-products or derived products, you should send it to Defra so that we can review it and pass it on to EFSA for an assessment. There is a standard format for applications.

  • Information on the procedure for authorisation of alternative methods can be found in Article 20 of the Animal By-Products Regulation (EC) No 1069/2009.
  • Information on the standard format for applications can be found in Annex VII of The Animal By-Products implementing Regulation (EU) No 142/2011.

If you are interested in applying for authorisation of an alternative method for use or disposal of animal by-products or derived products, please contact Defra.

Further information

Guidance for businesses on importing/exporting animal by-products, including updated Importer Information Notes, is available in the International Trade section of the Defra website.

Guidance on the disposal of international catering waste for vessels, ports and airports is available on the AHVLA website.

Authorisations for businesses wishing to take advantage of current derogations from the basic framework of animal by-product controls - authorised in England by the Secretary of State. (Please note, with effect from 15 May 2013, the revocation of Authorisation A3 and updates to Authorisation B3 and paragraph 5, Part II of the Authorisation D6 Annex.)

Guidance on interpreting the EU & England Animal By-Product Regulations

Approved ABP plants and premises index and general ABP approvals on the AHVLA website

Download Defra guidance on composting or biogas treatment of ABPs from the Agricultural Document Library website (PDF, 178K)

National Fallen Stock Scheme information on the NFSCo website

Animal by-products forms

NFSCo Helpline

0845 054 8888

Defra Helpline

08459 33 55 77

Help us improve GOV.UK

Please don't include any personal or financial information, for example your National Insurance or credit card numbers.