Though it might seem environmentally friendly, the practice of feeding food waste to pigs is illegal and too great a risk to the health of the animal to condone, says BPEX foodservice trade manager Tony Goodger
The issue of food waste has gathered pace in recent years. Various bodies have highlighted the amount of usable food households and foodservice businesses throw away every year.
The recent publication of the food waste pyramid (www.feeding5k.org) gives a clear pictorial understanding of ways to reduce. Within its waste avoidance advise it suggests directing ‘food unfit for human consumption to livestock feed: wherever possible, divert legally permissible bakery, fruit, vegetables and dairy products to farm animals'.
In 2001 the UK suffered one of its worst ever Foot and Mouth disease outbreaks. The spread of the disease meant large parts of the countryside were effectively closed. Livestock farms were not the only businesses that ceased trading but the whole supply chain was affected.
Many foodservice businesses also closed, while events such as the Cheltenham Festival and British Rally Championship were cancelled causing losses to the hospitality industry. Exports of UK meat were banned and the eventual cost to the economy was estimated at £8b.
What was the cause of the outbreak? Untreated waste being fed to pigs.
It is neither acceptable nor legal for foodservice outlets to feed kitchen waste to livestock directly. The cost to your business, our farming, hospitality and leisure industries and ultimately the UK economy is too great a risk to take.
Livestock can only be fed food waste where it is collected from manufacturers and processed into feed under safe licensed and assured conditions.
However this food, if usable, would be better diverted to the UK's Food Banks - the second tier on the food waste pyramid.
Food waste from kitchens should instead be disposed of by waste collection contractors into anaerobic digesters, which in turn produce electricity, heat and fertilizer.
The food waste pyramid suggests avoiding waste in the first place and maybe the time has come to re-appraise the size of portions served in foodservice outlets to discourage plate waste returning to the kitchen. A recent initiative in the US called 'Go Halfsies' may provide a useful steer as this not just reduces the amount of food on the plate but also provides support to local charities.