Scientific Opinion on the abiotic risks for public and animal health of glycerine as co-product from the biodiesel production from Category 1 animal by-products (ABP) and vegetable oils

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Article
Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain
EFSA Journal
EFSA Journal 2010;8(12):1934 [22 pp.].
doi
10.2903/j.efsa.2010.1934
Panel members at the time of adoption
Jan Alexander, Diane Benford, Alan Boobis, Sandra Ceccatelli, Jean-Pierre Cravedi, Daniel Doerge, Alessandro di Domenico, Eugenia Dogliotti, Lutz Edler, Peter Farmer, Metka Filipic, Johanna Fink-Gremmels, Peter Fürst, Thierry Guerin, Helle Katrine Knutsen, Miroslav Machala, Antonio Mutti, Josef Schlatter and Rolaf Van Leeuwen
Acknowledgements

The Panel wishes to thank EFSA staff: Marc Vandenbroeck, George Kass and Jean Lou Dorne for the support provided to this scientific opinion.

Type
Opinion of the Scientific Committee/Scientific Panel
On request from
European Commission
Question Number
EFSA-Q-2009-00858
Adopted
30 November 2010
Published
16 December 2010
Affiliation
European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Parma, Italy
Note
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Abstract

Following a request from the European Commission, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) was asked to deliver a scientific opinion on the abiotic risks for public and animal health of glycerine as co-product from the biodiesel production from Category 1 animal by-products (ABP) and vegetable oils. Crude glycerine is used as an energy-rich feed component in animal diets. Glycerine derived from biodiesel produced from vegetable oils may contain up to 0.5 % methanol and 1 % sodium, used as catalysts in the biodiesel production process. Inclusion rates of such produced glycerine at levels of up to 15 % in the diet of ruminants and up to 10 % in monogastric animals are well-tolerated and exerted no adverse effects on animal health. In contrast, these findings would need to be confirmed for crude glycerine derived from biodiesel production using feedstocks (input materials) other than vegetable oils, as the production process is slightly different. More importantly, no data are available on the levels of possible contaminants of crude glycerine derived from biodiesel production using recycled animal fats or animal by-products classified as category 1 materials due to chemical risk. Therefore, the Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain recommends the collection of data on the presence of impurities and contaminants in crude glycerine from biodiesel production that is used as animal feed component.

Summary

Following a request from the European Commission, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) was asked to deliver a scientific opinion on the risks for public and animal health of glycerine as a co-product from the biodiesel production from Category 1 animal by-products (ABP) and vegetable oils. The Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM Panel) noted that the increasing demand for alternative fuels for diesel engines has resulted in a significant increase in biodiesel production. Subsequently, diverse input materials (feedstocks) including recycled animal fats and ABP are used for this purpose. The main co-product of biodiesel production is crude glycerine that is used as an energy-rich feed component in animal diets. Previous assessments of crude glycerine from biodiesel production were confined to the evaluation of biodiesel produced from vegetable oils, intended for human consumption. Data show that inclusion rates of such produced glycerine up to a level of 15 % in the diet of ruminants and up to 10 % in the diet of monogastric animals had no adverse effects on animal health. These findings indicated also that the residual amounts of methanol (up to 0.5 % in the crude glycerine fraction) and sodium (up to 1 % in crude glycerine) used as catalysts in the biodiesel process exerted no adverse effects. These findings are in agreement with the known toxicological data for the individual compounds, but need to be confirmed for glycerine derived from biodiesel using other sources than vegetable oils as feedstock material, as in this case the production process can be different.

The CONTAM Panel noted that no data are available regarding other possible contaminants of crude glycerine derived from biodiesel production. Therefore, the CONTAM Panel recommends the collection of data on the presence of impurities and contaminants in crude glycerine from biodiesel production that is used as animal feed component. This applies in particular to recycled animal fats and Category 1 ABP material, the latter being defined as entire bodies or parts of animals or products of animal origin not intended for human consumption. These products may contain residues of environmental contaminants and other substances and remain of concern to human and animal health unless it is proven that the chemical processes involved in the trans-esterification of the feedstock in the biodiesel production inactivate these abiotic (chemical) contaminants.

Keywords
biodiesel, feed, risk assessment, crude glycerine, methanol, sodium, ABP-products
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Number of Pages
22