Is Europe leaving us behind on PAP?

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More than twenty delegates heard from Darling Ingredients’ nutrition and regulatory affairs specialist, Carine van Vuure, about the EU’s journey into accepting the use of processed animal protein (PAP) and the nutritional benefits of being able to do so.

At the conference, hosted by Premier Nutrition, Ms van Vuure shared how the latest changes in regulation, introduced in the EU in September 2021, have created opportunities for both better bird health and welfare, as well as reducing carbon footprints for producers. However, she warned that the use of PAP in manufacturing is far from straightforward.

“One of the main drivers for relaxing the regulations last year was the EU Farm to Fork strategy”, she explained. “We could prove we were able to make better use of proteins, optimise recycling of former foodstuffs and valorise under-utilised resources, such as insect protein.

“It now means that not only fats and oils, protein hydrolysates, and bone phosphates from all species can be used, but additionally porcine animal protein can now enter the European poultry supply chain with the meat going into both the retail and food service markets.”

However, the exceptionally strict rules around segregation of the PAP product have created significant challenges, particularly for smaller EU feed mills. “The regulations demand proof of segregation and how it is organised, including separate access and a completely separate manufacturing line”, Ms van Vuure clarified. “Effectively you need to demonstrate two separate businesses, even though they are sharing the same land space”.

Nevertheless, the benefits of using PAP as a nutritional ingredient has been repeatedly proven in trial work carried out at Wageningen. Trials testing digestibility and performance in laying hens and broilers using variations in pork meals and its processing methods have not only managed to displace the use of soyabean meal, giving obvious environmental benefits, but they have seen less wet litter, less feather damage (weeks 18-40), healthier bone strength and density from the organic origin macro-minerals, better locomotion, and less skin damage.

With such enormous environmental and health and welfare benefits, it was important that the introduction of PAP to consumers was well managed. This process was started with a consumer perception study, also carried out by Wageningen, where they spoke to nearly 5,000 men and women in five countries, including the UK, all aged between 36 – 55 years old.  

“It probably won’t surprise you that consumer knowledge of animal feed is very low”, Ms van Vuure reported. “However, their gut feel is that ingredients should be natural, healthy and plant-based, and their top three motives for buying meat is taste, price and health benefits.

“When asked about feeding animal proteins, 44% were neutral. That may sound like good news, however there was a danger that this sector could be influenced by activists and are easy to sway either way, so caution was needed as we introduced PAP.”

Using the EU’s experiences, Ms van Vuure recommended that each country needs tailor made messages to inform consumers about the industry, but summarised those used by the EU as follows:

  • Chickens are omnivores, they naturally eat proteins
  • PAP contains digestible, essential amino acids
  • PAP helps to keep chickens healthy
  • PAP is local; sourced and produced in the EU and it can replace the use of soyabean meal
  • There are no anti-nutritional factors in PAP

Looking at how PAP could influence diets in the UK, Premier’s poultry nutritionist Ralph Bishop presented matrix values and two example rations. The most notable point was, the GFLI carbon footprint for Brazilian soyabean meal is 4285kg/CO2e including land use change (LUC) compared to a porcine PAP which carries a carbon footprint value of 657kg/CO2e including LUC.

“To introduce 5% PAP into a broiler grower diet can reduce soya by ~5% and significantly reduce rock phosphate requirement dependent on the ash content of the PAP”, said Mr Bishop. “There is also a reduction in potassium, which will aid litter quality with associated welfare benefits.”

In a peak layer ration, 5% inclusion of PAP reduced soya by ~4% in the formulation shared by Mr Bishop, whilst maintaining digestible amino acid levels. Similar to the broiler example, dependent on the ash content of PAP, both additions of rock limestone and phosphate can be reduced whilst potassium reduction will help litter quality.

At the end of two interesting presentations, the consensus from delegates was that the UK is some way off being able to manage the introduction of PAP, both from a management and use perspective, as well as a consumer perspective. The experiences of the EU will be invaluable in steering decisions in the future, should UK legislation change to allow its use.