BRC Food – 4.13 Management of Surplus Food & Products for Animal Feed
Statement of Intent:
Effective processes shall be in place to ensure the safety and legality of by-products of the primary processing activity of the site.
This section covers all aspects of what you must do if you have produced excess product, whether you use it for material as animal feed, staff sales, it’s donated to a charity or sold to another customer.
Surplus customer-branded products shall be disposed of in accordance with customer-specific requirements. Customer brand names shall be removed from packed surplus products under the control of the factory before the product enters the supply chain unless authorised otherwise by the customer.
Where excess product has been produced, for example where there is a fall in orders, or the forecast does not meet the actual order, this product must be controlled.
This clause states that if you intend on sending this product to another customer, you must get authorisation from the original customer to do this. We need to be careful though with how this is applied and be a little pragmatic about it.
You produce the same recipe for customer A and customer B.
You make too much product intended to go to customer A. The product is packed in customer A’s packaging.
If you apply this clause to the letter, you would need to contact customer A to ask for their permission to re-pack their product as customer B’s.
In reality you just wouldn’t do this because the recipe is the same, customer A would never say yes (even though there’s nothing wrong with doing it) and also you would be disclosing confidential information to customer A about customer B’s product.
To me, this clause only applies where you are producing a recipe that is licensed or it has been agreed with the customer that the recipe is exclusive to them. In this situation there wouldn’t be an obvious solution as to what to do with the excess product. The clause requires you to get formal permission (and this would have to be documented) from the customer to send this to another customer.
On an ad hoc basis this would be quite a complex thing to manage. You would need to re-pack the product. The product would need labelling, with all the legally required information on it. So, the labelling information would need generating and checking. You would also need a process to ensure that traceability is not lost when the product is re-packed/re-directed.
Therefore, if this situation is a possibility for your site it is advisable that you have these systems already set up:
- Have a traceability system for re-labelling.
- If you have exclusive or licensed products, speak to your customers to establish what you would be authorised to do in the event of excess product being produced.
- If they allow you to use the product, have pre-agreed customers or routes to market documented.
- Also ensure that you agree whether you must inform them each time this process is triggered, or if you have the authority to just do it when needed without notifying them. Document the required procedure and how/when notification to the customer will take place. Ensure that records of notifications are kept as evidence in the event of an audit.
- Get your labelling set up in advance to ensure its correct, doing it last minute and in a rush will no doubt cause errors to be made.
If you can think of any other situations than those that I’ve stated above, please share them using the comments box below.
Remember even where product is suitable for another customer (because the recipes are the same) and you’re re-labelling, you need to make sure you have a procedure and records in place to ensure that traceability is not lost.
Where customer-branded products which do not meet specification are sold to staff or passed on to charities or other organisations this shall be with the prior consent of the brand owner. Processes shall be in place to ensure that all products are fit for consumption and meet legal requirements.
Where surplus product is produced that does not meet the customers specification and is sent to staff sales or to a charity, the following must be applied:
- The product must be legal and safe to eat
- There must be a person(s) responsible for deciding if the product can be sent to staff sales or charities. This must be documented and a procedure for the processes applied must be documented. Make sure this includes that the nominated person(s) will make sure that the customer agreements are adhered to (see point below) and that the product is safe for consumption and meets the legal requirements (including any labelling re-packing).
- Prior documented consent must be given by the customer. If your customers COP (code of practice) or standards document how you should manage surplus product sent to staff sales or charities, you can take this as documented authorisation that you’re allowed to do so. If your customer has not documented this in their standards you must ask them for authorisation and this must be documented. You do not need authorisation each time the product is sent for staff sales or to charities, as long as your customer gives you authorisation to do this on an ongoing basis. Ensure when documenting their authorisation, that you include how they expect you to manage the product – if you need to re-pack it into unbranded packaging or just deface their branding (such as putting a black marker pen line through it, or completely marking out the branding so you can’t tell what brand it was).
Remember – if you need to re-pack it, make sure you have the traceability systems set up for this, so traceability is not lost.
Plus, labelling still needs to meet the legal requirements so you need to ensure that labels are ready and pre-checked for compliance and accuracy.
By-products and downgraded/surplus products intended for animal feed shall be segregated from waste and protected from contamination during storage. Products for animal feed shall be managed in accordance with relevant legislative requirements.
This is a really complex topic. This clause has been moved from the waste section, because product sent for animal feed needs to be of a food standard and so having it in the waste section gave the wrong impression.
Products used as an ingredient in animal feed has to be of a food standard, to ensure that animal feed is not contaminated, which in turn could cause animal welfare issues and also harm to the consumer from the subsequent meat or food of animal origin produced (such a milk or eggs).
First of all we need to understand the terms used, as they are not included in the definitions in the back of the BRC standard:
By product – a by product is something that is produced as a consequence of the production of a product. Such as whey from the cheese making process, buttermilk from the butter making process, or skin (trim) from butchery.
Downgraded/surplus products are products that are still fit for consumption but do not meet the specification of the customer.
Animal feed – food used to feed animals, including farmed animals. The term animal feed also includes pet food.
Let’s split the clause into two main parts:
- By product or surplus product must be not be contaminated during the process, which means you must ensure that they are segregated from waste and stored in a way to ensure they do not become contaminated.
- You must ensure that you meet the feed laws of the country where the product is sent to be used as animal feed.
Number 1 above is fairly straight forward, but meeting the feed laws is a little more complex.
There are many rules around using by product or surplus product for animal feed, I’m going to try to just go over the main top line points you need to be aware of. If you need more detail than this, please get in touch or use the other sources of information provided.
When sending by product or surplus product for animal feed, there are two main routes to do this:
- Via a feed manufacturer (recommended option)
- Direct to the farm (this is much more complex)
If you do either of the above, by law you must be registered and approved (by your local authority) under the Feed Hygiene Regulations, as you are considered to be “Feed Business Operator”. Once registered the local authority may come to your site to approve you and both registration and approval must occur prior to supplying product for animal feed.
Via a Feed Manufacturer
If you supply a feed manufacturer, you will have to provide the feed manufacturer a specification of the product which will be supplied. In addition, the feed manufacturer will also provide you with any specific requirements that the product must meet (such as a micro specification).
Sending your product to a feed manufacturer is definitely a better option, as the feed manufacturer will advise you on the product you are supplying, to ensure that it meets the legislation for the feed they are making – so you don’t need to know all of the legal requirements. You must ensure though that the product you send them adheres to the specification you provided them and also that it meets the requirements that they specified. The feed manufacturer if approved by one of the assurance schemes (such as FEMAS or UFAS) will need to carry out an approval process of you as a supplier and also ongoing monitoring of you, to ensure that you are adhering to the agreed specification and contract.
Remember product sent as animal feed must be of a food standard, so if you have a food safety contamination issue on site make sure that product sent for animal feed is taken into account (not contaminated). Food safety contaminated product must not to sent to a feed manufacturer without their prior written consent – but in some cases they may be able to accept it with prior notification, as they may be able to adapt their process to reduce the risks. Your customer (the feed manufacturer) must also be notified if you find out that a food safety contamination issue has occurred after you’ve sent the product to them.
Direct to Farm
If you send by product or surplus product direct to the farm for consumption by animals, you need to ensure that you meet all the legal requirements, so this is much more complicated.
By product or surplus product which contains ingredients of animal origin cannot be sold as material for animal feed for farmed animals.
Remember that material sent as animal feed needs to be of a food standard, so you need to think about how you are handling and storing the product, so it does not become contaminated. Speak to your local authority about what standards you need to adhere to.
For further details see EC Regulation 183/2005 laying down requirements for feed hygiene, or the FSA has some good sources of information.
I hope that you found our 4.13 Management of Surplus Food & Products for Animal Feed article useful, if you have any comments on this subject I’d love to hear them, just post them in the comments box below.