Controversial feeding practices from pre-BSE days are one step closer to being reintroduced, after an influential EU committee produced a document endorsing the feeding of animal by-products to pork, poultry and farmed fish.  

The document, which was produced by MEP Dagmar Roth Behrendt for the European Parliament Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, is a draft opinion on the safety, value and alternatives to processed animals protein (PAP). If adopted by MEPs, it could ultimately be used as the basis for new regulation.

In the document, MEPs say they support plans to lift the current outright ban on PAP, provided appropriate safety measures are in place. Restrictions on feeding animal by-products to ruminants such as beef and sheep would remain in place, but pork, poultry and farmed fish producers could make use of PAP once more.

Feed producer organisation Fabra said it welcomed the document's content. 

"A change in regulation to permit the feed-use of processed animal protein will enable pig and poultry producers to achieve a return on their animal by-products which properly reflects their safety, quality and value," said chief executive Stephen Woodgate. 

The use of PAP was banned in all animal feed in the wake of the BSE crisis of the 1990s, but the EC last year put forward proposals for reassessing the ban for non-ruminant animals, such as pigs and poultry, after EFSA and other scientists suggested this would be safe and could be traced reliably.

This was followed up earlier this year with a new opinion from EFSA, which said the use of non-ruminant protein in the feed of non-ruminants posed a "negligible" BSE risk to the EU's cattle.

MEPs will vote on the draft document on 24 May, with a plenary vote to follow in July.

If regulatory changes are made, they would be unlikely to come into effect before the second half of 2012, according to Fabra.