Food and farming minister Elliot Morley has assured a parliamentary select committee that DEFRA will not be "blindly bureaucratic" in implementing the EU animal by-products regulation.
Morley was tackled by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee about DEFRA's implementation of the controversial regulation.
Chairman David Curry said it had come into effect on May 1, but the industry and farmers were still waiting for definitive guidance.
Morley blamed delays in Europe, and the Easter break, and suggested the regulation could be in force by the end of this month.
He said he would personally meet the British Retail Consortium and other food industry groups to finalise how the new rules would affect their members.
The BRC has attacked DEFRA's plan for an immediate ban on retailers sending uncooked foods containing meat and fish to landfill. It said the ministry had originally promised retailers a transitional period until December 2005, but backtracked, goldplating the EU regulation by classifying food waste as animal byproduct.
That would leave a small UK retailer disposing of one pack of sausages a week facing an £832 annual bill for an approved rendering bin, it has claimed. During the committee session, Bill Wiggin MP made the point that waste sausages should not be covered by the rules by presenting Morley with a pack.
Morley said: "We would treat a small shop with one pack of waste sausages very differently to a sausage factory. We are not being blindly bureaucratic."
Speaking to The Grocer afterwards, Morley said: "We are not going to be unreasonable about this. As long as bodies like the BRC have an action plan, we would look for a lead-in period on uncooked meat. We will be proportionate."
Morley insisted the regulation was a framework for proper control of waste. He said he would write to industry groups as well as hold meetings.
He dismissed the cost of the regulation for wholesalers and manufacturers. He said: "There is a cost but it won't be hugely additionally expensive to whatever they are doing now."
But the BRC, which attended the hearing, called DEFRA's handling of the animal by products regulation a "fiasco", with UK retailers having to pick up the tab.
Morley also told the committee that a proposed national collection scheme for fallen farm animals might not be viable due to lack of response from farmers. He admitted it would take at least three months to get the scheme running even if it went ahead.
The proposed subscription scheme was set up as the new regulation bans on-farm burial.
Morley said of 30% of English farmers have signed up so far, not the 50% minimum. The deadline for applications had been extended to May 28.

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