The Texas Animal Health Commission is the first to set distinct and bold standards to protect the state's – and the nation's – swine herd from foot-and-mouth disease. Texas pigs that are fed food waste will be on a meat-free diet when a new state law goes into effect Sept. 1. It prohibits feeding food waste that may contain meat or meat scraps to swine. Furthermore, it will be against the law to provide these products for swine diets.

"This new law not only affects pork producers, but it will also change the way food processors, restaurants, schools, hospitals and other establishments dispose of food scraps for wastefood feeding," says Linda Logan, Texas' state veterinarian and head of the Texas Animal Health Commission. She points out that only fruits, vegetables, dairy products and bakery goods are allowable swine feed items.

"The state legislature's move to ban meat and meat scraps for swine feeding stemmed from the global spread of FMD, the world's most costly and highly contagious livestock disease," says Logan. "Since January 2000, more than 34 countries have battled FMD outbreaks. The virus is most often introduced into a country by imported infected animals or in uncooked meat products derived from infected animals." (The virus can remain viable in uncooked meat products for long periods of time.)

Wastefood feeding permits and inspections will continue to be required to ensure livestock health, she points out. In early August, Texas had more than 611 swine producers registered to feed food waste. Of those, more than 69 percent currently feed food waste that contains meat or meat scraps (which had to be boiled for 30 minutes.) Already, inspectors check food waste feeding complexes for regulatory compliance every 30 to 45 days.

Regulations that conform to the new Texas law will include the following long-standing provisions already in place:
1. TAHC may require testing of all swine for livestock diseases prior to issuing producers a permit to feed food waste to swine.

2. Annual surveys will be conducted by a TAHC or USDA representative to determine disease risk on each registered location.

3. Feral (wild) swine may not be fed at registered food waste feeding locations.

"Despite the best efforts by federal agencies to inspect incoming luggage, mail and shipments of goods, some contaminated meat items could reach the United States," say Logan. "We needed a fire wall between potentially contaminated products and wastefood-fed pigs."

In Great Britain, more than 3.7 million animals on more than 9,000 farms have been slaughtered in an attempt to stop a FMD outbreak, which is thought to have started in late February when contaminated, imported meat products were fed to British swine.

For more information about food waste feeding requirements, regulations, or emergency preparedness, contact the Texas Animal Health Commission at (800) 550-8242.

Texas Animal Health Commission