A surprise u-turn by the European Commission delaying the introduction of the animal by-products regulation until 2005 has been welcomed by retailers and food manufacturers.
Rules due to come into effect on May 1 would have forced retailers and food manufacturers to have animal waste rendered or incinerated. They said this would be very expensive and there were too few facilities to process the waste.
The EC ruled "in view of the strict nature of these requirements, it is necessary to provide for transitional measures to allow industry sufficient time to adjust".
But industry figures raised concern over a paragraph which said: "Member states may grant individual authorisation to operators of premises and facilities to apply national rules until December 31 2005 ."
BRC food policy director Richard Ali said: "The transitional period would give retailers time to adjust to the regulation, but this paragraph suggests all operators have to be given individual authorisation. That would affect 68,000 retailers. We worry that DEFRA could goldplate this new regulation."
The BRC is due to meet DEFRA on Tuesday, and will be seeking clarification, he said. Meanwhile DEFRA said: "This is just a nicety. I imagine general authorisation would be given to industry sectors."
Federation of Wholesale Distributors director general Alan Toft said: "This is very good news for wholesalers, we hope a cloud of complexity will not descend."
The Food and Drink Federation said: "This will give our members extra time to set up facilities to cope with low risk food waste which contains animal derived products. We await further guidance from DEFRA."

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