Animal by-products and food waste

Disposing of food and catering waste


When food of animal origin is no longer intended for human consumption it becomes an animal by-product. This may be when produce is removed from sale because it has passed its sell by or use by date, or because of damage, soiling or contamination to the produce or its packaging.

Waste rules for food businesses

Food businesses in Northern Ireland must present food waste for separate collection if you produce more than 5 kilograms of food waste a week

These rules impact upon food businesses such as restaurants, cafes, hotels, canteens, pubs that serve food, supermarkets, shops that serve food, schools, colleges, prisons, nursing homes and hospitals. The rules also apply to health and social care trusts.

To determine how much food waste your business produces remember that a domestic kitchen food waste caddy holds roughly 5 kilograms of food waste.

Businesses exempt from food waste rules

Your businesses are exempt from the regulations if:

  • You produce less than 5 kilograms of food waste per week.
  • You deal with catering waste that has arisen from international transport. International is a Category 1 Animal By-product and therefore requires specialist management.

There is a prohibition on the landfilling of separately collected food waste. The regulations also introduce a duty on businesses to ensure food waste is not deposited in a lateral drain or sewer.

Catering waste

Catering waste is waste food from restaurants, catering facilities and kitchens. Catering waste which contains animal by-products includes:

  • cooked or processed meat and fish
  • bakery products containing meat, fish or dairy products
  • cooking oil that has been used for cooking meat or fish

Catering waste can be sent to an approved composting or biogas facility.

Landfills cannot accept liquid waste so you should collect used cooking oil, store it in suitable containers and have it removed by an authorised waste carrier. Most used cooking oil is used to make biodiesel or is incinerated to generate electricity.

Catering waste does not include 'former foodstuffs' from retailers or food manufacturers.

Former foodstuffs

Former foodstuffs are foods of animal origin, or foods that contain products of animal origin, that are no longer intended for human consumption. This includes food that is waste due to manufacturing or packaging defects. Former foodstuffs do not include catering waste from restaurants, catering facilities and kitchens.

Waste from a factory that produces cooked meat is not catering waste - it is former foodstuff (category 3 animal by-product).

You must dispose of category 3 animal by-products at approved premises, by rendering or incineration, or disposal at an approved biogas or composting plant. Generally, you cannot send category 3 animal by-products to landfill.

Raw meat or fish must not be sent to landfill.

Category 3 animal by-products include:

  • raw meat, fish and eggs
  • cooked meat and fish
  • meat and fish products that require cooking before consumption
  • catering waste other than international catering waste

See animal by-product categories and disposing of animal by-products.

International catering waste from ships and planes

International catering waste is waste food from aircraft and ships that have called at airports or ports outside the European Union. It is classed as high risk material (category 1 animal by-product). You must dispose of it by incineration, rendering or burial in an approved landfill site.

For more information, see DAERA's guidance on animal by-products from food and feed businesses.