PUBLIC pressure has forced Caribbean Broilers to scrap plans to use chicken waste parts to make poultry feedstock, although it's still looking at "prospects for export".
In an advertisment published yesterday, CB said that "although there was a discussion regarding the use of this item in the production of chicken feed, in what is an internationally accepted practice, we have noted the response of the Jamaican public and will therefore not be considering this option".
Up to last Tuesday, the company had not yet decided what it would ultimately do with byproducts it would process at a protein recovery plant that would make high-grade protein derived from the chicken waste parts (feathers, blood and offal — comprising heads, wind pipes and intestines), described in a project brief submitted to the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA).
"It could be used for pet food and fish feed for tilapia," CB's corporate affairs manager, Dr Keith Amiel told the Business Observer.
However, last Wednesday an article published in the Business Observer brought the proposed project to public attention — not least of all, CB's main rival Jamaica Broilers.
Within days, JB put out an ad stating that "we do not feed chicken to chicken".
CB's response in its ad said: "Caribbean Broilers would like to assure you that we have never 'fed chicken to chicken' and will not be doing so".
The ad went on to say that the company was researching environmentally friendly ways to dispose of unused chicken parts. "One such method is rendering, a process by which the parts are superheated, dehydrated and sterilised, resulting in a product which is in demand on the international market," said the ad. "In fact, we have been actively exploring these prospects for export."
The project brief submitted to NEPA did actually say that the company recognised that "the edibility of the meat products fed by the proposed poultry-based feedstock is determined by a number of criteria, including consumer acceptance, regulatory requirements, economics, hygiene, tradition, and ethnic background", but at the same time it said it is "also cognisant of the fact that the products produced from the recovered poultry material make important economic, environmental, human, and animal health contributions to their allied industries and society".
Consumer acceptance may have been adversely impacted since the advent of bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE (mad cow disease), which raised international concern about the safety of feeding rendered cattle to cattle.
Since the discovery of BSE in the United States, the federal government has taken some action to restrict the parts of cattle that can be fed back to cattle.
"However, most animals are still allowed to eat meat from their own species," said the EIA document. "Pig carcasses can be rendered and fed back to pigs, chicken carcasses can be rendered and fed back to chickens, and turkey carcasses can be rendered and fed back to turkeys. In the United States, some 37 per cent of broiler protein is derived from rendered byproducts.
"The case of the United States is used here due to the fact that Jamaica currently imports a wide range of poultry products such as those made by Tyson Foods Inc, Oscar Meyer and Butterball to name a few, and also it is the largest exporter of poultry products internationally. It is the practice at the integrated companies in the US to develop the inedible material into feedstock for the animals rather than use corn or soy products. There is a direct correlation of the location of rendering facilities with broiler facilities across the US, and particularly so in the south east where the bulk of our imported chicken and turkey products originate."