Following a request from the French Competent Authority, the Panel on Biological Hazards was asked to deliver a scientific opinion on composting and incineration of dead-on-farm pigs.
The application received concerns an alternative method for processing Category (Cat) 2 Animal By-Products (ABP) as defined in Reg. (EC) 1069/2009. The materials to be treated are placentas and dead-on-farm pigs.
The proposed process consists of three sequential steps, i.e. composting, storage of mature compost and incineration of mature compost in authorized plants.
The end-product is intended to be disposed of by incineration.
The identification and characterisation of the risk material was properly addressed in the application and a comprehensive list of possible hazards was provided.
Since the compost is only intended for incineration the applicant considered that the final step of the process would destroy all the relevant microbiological hazards and the applicant did not perform any experimental validation. The temperatures reached during composting are not able to inactivate the relevant hazards that could be present in the material to be processed and the compost has still to be regarded as a Cat. 2 ABP material. Therefore pathogens may be disseminated during composting and storage which are the key steps for risk containment. The alternative method as proposed by the applicant was not performed in a closed system, which implies a risk of dissemination of biological hazards able to survive the composting process throughout the farm environment.
Major deficiencies were noted by the Panel in relation to the risk containment. Moreover, a formal HACCP plan was not provided, and some deficiencies were also noted in the identification of interdependent processes.
Provided that the deficiencies identified are addressed and the composting and storage steps of the proposed process take place in a closed system under supervision of the competent authority, the Scientific Panel on Biological Hazards (BIOHAZ) concluded that this alternative treatment would not pose an additional risk as compared to the processes currently approved in the legislation.
The BIOHAZ Panel recommended that, in case of authorisation of this alternative method, it should be supervised on a regular basis by the competent authorities to verify the proper containment of the risks and to enable the identification of possible outbreaks of infectious diseases at an early stage.