Bone splinters from land animals (left) and from molasses shreds (right) in polarised light in the microscope (200x magnif.). Clearly visible the characteristic "lacunes"
Fotos: R. Modi, University of Hohenheim
Soil adhering tuber crops
Fotos: E. Schnug, FAL Braunschweig
Results of an experts round table "decomposition behaviour of animal residues in soil" at the Institute of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science, Federal Agricultural Research Centre (FAL), Braunschweig, Germany.
As a result of the BSE-crisis, any feed for livestock must be "free" of anything of animal origin. This EU-decree lasts until 2006 and should prevent "MBM" (Meat Bone Meal) from reaching the feed trough. MBM means the heated, dried and ground remains of animal slaughter waste. In themselves these amount to about a third of total animal slaughter waste, which has to be disposed of, and also includes blood, feathers and other components of animal bodies which are not usually included in feedstuffs. But which, for hygiene reasons, still need to be disposed of. MBM can still be used as a fertiliser, but only MBM of category III, which has to be produced out of non-commercialised or non-marketable material that is classed as "fit for human consumption".
Checks are made for bone fragments and other animal components, like muscle fibres, hair or feathers in feedstuff samples. These microscopic tests check to identify bones by their characteristic surface patterns, so called "lacuna" (picture 1). If only one tiny identifiable bone splinter is found in a feedstuff, an unauthorised admixture of animal components will be assumed and the whole part will have to be destroyed ("zero tolerance"). This happened on 23rd November 2004 in Ireland, where the authorities blocked the import of 1.645 tons of German feedstuff derived from sugar beet pulp after finding bone fragments. In the immediate aftermath caused by the RASFF (Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed) similar samples were scrutinised in Germany and bone fragments were found "not always but more and more often".
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