How to operate an animal by-product (ABP) processing facility

Find out what methods you can use to process ABPs, how to test your products for bacteria and how to permanently mark high risk material.

Before opening an animal by-product facility, you need to get Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) approval to operate.

You will also need to meet standards that apply across the ABP industry in areas such as hygiene and record keeping.

How to crush material before you process it

Before you process any ABP material you must crush it into small pieces of between 20 and 150 millimetres (mm) in width and height (the exact size limit is different for each of the approved methods). There’s no limit to the length of the piece.

You can use any machinery to crush the material, eg mincers, cutters or breakers. Set up the machinery to ensure that material larger than the maximum size allowed for your processing method can’t pass through. Do this by measuring the size of the holes in a mincer, or the anvil gap in a cutter, for example. You’ll need to make the gaps smaller if they’re larger than the maximum size of material allowed for your treatment.

You must inspect some of your crushed material every day before you process it. If the pieces are larger than the size required for the method you plan to use, stop processing material until you have repaired your equipment.

Approved processing methods

There are 6 approved methods you can use to process ABPs. Use the table to find out the time and temperature combinations required in each of the methods.

Category 1 and 2 ABP material must be pressure sterilised (method 1 in the table). You can process category 3 material using any of the methods in the table.

Find out what category your ABP material falls into.

Name Maximum size of material to be treated Core temperature Time at core temperature Special details
Method 1 (pressure sterilisation) 50 mm 133°C for 20 minutes without interruption Maintain minimum pressure of 3 bars (2 bars above normal atmospheric pressure), by removing all air from the sterilisation chamber and replacing with steam
Method 2 150mm 120°C for 50 minutes Process material in batches, one after another. Don’t feed more material into the cooker while one batch is processing.
    and 110°C for 120 minutes  
    and 100°C for 125 minutes  
Method 3 30mm 120°C for 13 minutes  
    and 110°C for 55 minutes  
    and 100°C for 95 minutes  
Method 4 30mm 130°C for 3 minutes Add fat before heating
    and 120°C for 8 minutes  
    and 110°C for 13 minutes  
    and 100°C for 16 minutes  
Method 5 20mm 100°C for 60 minutes Before processing heat until ABPs coagulate (begin to solidify). Then press so that fat and water are removed. Treat the leftover solid material.
    and 80°C for 120 minutes  
Method 6 (for aquatic ABPs) 50mm 90°C for 60 minutes Mix with formic acid to pH 4.0 or lower and store for 24 hours before further treatment
  or 30mm 70°C for 60 minutes  

For methods where more than one time and temperature combination is required, time spent at the higher temperature also counts towards the lower temperature. For example in method 5, the 60 minutes spent at 100°C count towards the 120 minutes that must be spent at 80°C.

For method 2 you need to process material in batches. For all the other methods you can continuously feed material into your cooker (the equipment where you process ABPs). If you are feeding material continuously, you need to ensure each piece of material stays in the cooker for the time required by the treatment method.

‘Method 7’ processing

You can use other methods to process ABPs if APHA grants permission. Find out how to propose a method 7 processing method to APHA.

Testing samples for bacteria

You must test samples of your processed material for bacteria, to check processing has removed risks to public and animal health.

You must test processed material for Salmonella and Enterobacteriaceae. You may also have to test for other bacteria if APHA made that a condition when they approved your facility.

You should take samples:

  • daily from any material that is going to be used in animal feed
  • weekly from material that is going to be used in any other products, for example in fertiliser or to make compost

Find out more about laboratory testing requirements for ABPs including details of how and when to take samples and where to send them for testing.

How to permanently mark dangerous material with GTH

GTH (glyceroltriheptanoate) is an artificial fat that survives the extreme heat treatment used to process ABPs.

You need to mark all category 1 and 2 ABP material with GTH so it can be traced. The only exception is material sent by a closed conveyer system for immediate direct incineration or co-incineration within your processing plant.

Find out what ABP material falls into category 1 and 2.

In the standard operating procedure (SOP) document that you send to APHA when you validate your processing facility, you will need to explain how you plan to control the addition of GTH.

Records you need to keep of GTH addition

Once operating you will need to keep a daily record of:

  • GTH added to the processing mixture
  • ABPs processed
  • processed material produced
  • the ratio of GTH applied to ABPs processed

Testing for GTH during normal operating

To check that you have successfully marked high risk material with GTH, you need to send samples for testing:

  • weekly during the first month of normal operating
  • fortnightly during months 2 to 6
  • monthly after 6 months

Keep records of the test results.

If one of your samples fails a test

If any of your samples contains less than 250 mg of GTH per kg of fat:

You must investigate the problem with your GTH marking system, come up with a solution to correct it and tell APHA about your solution. Once the problem has been fixed APHA will let you restart operations if your solution complies with the regulations, but you will need to:

  • re-process any material from which failed samples were taken
  • revert to the sampling procedure that applied at the start of normal operating (ie take weekly samples for the first month, fortnightly samples for the second month, and monthly samples from then on)

You also need to keep a record of any corrective actions you take in response to a failed test.

Published 4 September 2014
Last updated 9 October 2014 + show all updates
  1. AHVLA documents have been re-assigned to the new Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

  2. AHVLA documents have been re-assigned to the new Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

  3. First published.