Last March’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) revised amendment, ‘Standards for Animal Feeds and Etc.’ states that;
“…in order to use human food waste collected from large restaurants and apartments as ingredients for poultry feed, the moisture content should be 14% or less.”
After a 6 month grace period, the amendment came into effect on October 1st, with a sentence of up to 3 years in prison, or a fine of up to 30 million won for violation.
According to MAFRA, the purpose of the amendment was to prevent the transmission of the highly pathogenic Avian Influenza (AI) virus in the supply of human food waste to nearby poultry farms. Due to wet animal food having a high risk of decomposition, it was intended to improve the quality and hygiene of the animal foods on farms which have lax standards of sanitation for the storage and handling of wet animal foods.
In 2001, MAFRA had already made two important decisions related to human food waste used as animal food. First, over the increased public awareness of animal welfare issues due to concerns about Bovine spongiform encephalopathy, more commonly known as Mad Cow Disease, it banned the feeding of ruminant livestock with food composed of human food waste. In addition, it clarified that livestock other than ruminants must be fed with properly prepared animal food (e.g. heated at 100 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes or more.) However, even when these decisions went into effect in 2001, human food waste that had not been heated properly continued to be provided in farms for pigs and dogs. MAFRA did not regulate it at all, allowing serious exploitation of animals, and great benefit to the farm owners.
Animal welfare groups strongly urge MAFRA to extend the above revision to include pig and dog farms. Pigs and dogs could also contract communicable diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease, measles, enteritis, and influenza, in the same way that MAFRA claim poultry can with AI. There is no reason for pigs and dogs to eat decomposing and potentially pathogenic food while poultry are protected from doing so.
Moreover, we urge authorities to stop blaming the Ministry of Environment for not dealing with this issue, when MAFRA could have easily done so under the jurisdiction of the Feed Control Act, but didn’t.
We urge MAFRA to undertake the following.
Conduct a thorough survey of dog farms across the country to ensure they are providing legitimate animal feed under the Feed Control Act.
MAFRA has refrained from applying the Feed Control Act to dog farms. It could have pushed dog farmers, who are making enormous profits by feeding animals human food waste, sufficiently under the current law.
Thus, it appears doubtful whether MAFRA, which has tolerated the dog meat industry, has any intention of ending it.
Extend the application of the standard for poultry feed to all types of livestock.
In the wake of the recent AI outbreaks, especially catastrophic from the end of 2016 to the summer of 2017, MAFRA announced that human food waste was one of the causes, and ended up amending the animal feed standards. However, outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease are also becoming more common, and a potential outbreak of influenza on dog meat farms is a serious concern, as it could spread to household pets. MAFRA, which is supposed to oversee the welfare of all farmed animals, should expand the animal feed standards to all other livestock species in order to avoid criticism from the public that they are discriminating against those species.
Dismantle the current regulations on human food waste for animal feed.
There must be a clear explanation as to whether feeding dogs food processed from human food waste will ensure the health and safety of the animals. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs should abolish the section in the Feed Control Act that allows unsafe human food waste to be used as animal food.
Animal welfare groups and animal lovers have strongly criticized MAFRA for not adequately regulating animal welfare and human food waste issues.
We urge the Ministry to drop their seemingly anti-life approach, which classifies all animals as only for commercial use, appears to act only in the interests of the livestock industry and farmers, and to realign itself as a ministry genuinely seeking to safeguard public health by insuring that the food produced by Korea’s farmers is healthy and free from contamination.