HC Deb 27 April 2004 vol 420 cc861-2W
Mr. Nicholas Brown

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of (a) the additional volume of food industry waste that is disposed of in landfill, the sewage system or otherwise as a result of the ban on swill feeding and (b) the change this represents in terms of the risk of spread of communicable animal diseases; and if she will make a statement. [165941]

Mr. Bradshaw

The disposal of catering waste to landfill is a longstanding practice and only 1.4 per cent. of the national pig herd was swill fed. The increase in the amount of catering waste going to landfill following the ban on 93 swill users for about 82,000 pigs was therefore very small compared to the total amount of catering waste generated from the 260,000 restaurants and other catering outlets across the UK, which as a matter of course, currently goes to landfill.

It is not possible to give a definitive picture of the disposal methods for the relatively small amount of catering waste that was formerly fed to pigs but it is not considered to be ending up down sewers as has been suggested. There are day-to-day problems with blockages to drains and sewers which are dealt with by the various authorities, but the main stream of catering waste is collectable and is not in a form that can be easily disposed of down the sewer.

In common with all methods of disposing of animal by-products disposal to landfill does carry some risks to animal health. Among the measures in place to minimise such risks landfill operators work to specific conditions of their licence or permit including covering waste with inert material and maintaining a strict pest control programme.

No comparative risk assessment has been made of the risks of swill feeding and landfill when exotic diseases are absent from the national herd. However, when a disease such as foot and mouth is present, the level of virus circulating increases the risk from swill feeding.