Animal by-products and food waste

What are animal by-products?


Animal by-products are entire animal bodies, parts of animals or products of animal origin that are not intended for human consumption. These include:

  • animal carcasses and parts of animal carcasses - including fish
  • digestive tract content
  • manure from farmed animals, eg pigs, cattle and chickens
  • ova, embryos and semen which are not intended for breeding purposes
  • blood, hides, skins, hooves and horns
  • shellfish and crustacean waste
  • feathers, wool, hair and fur
  • food waste of animal or fish origin no longer intended for human consumption - including eggs, milk and cooking oil used to prepare animal products

Meat, fish and other material from animals become animal by-products when the material is no longer intended for human consumption. This is the case even if the material is still edible.

For further information see the Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs (DAERA) animal by-products general guidance.


Animal by-product controls do not generally apply to:

  • raw pet food sold directly to consumers
  • liquid milk and colostrum disposed of or used on the farm where it was produced
  • wild animals that are not suspected of carrying an infectious disease
  • excrement from domestic pets, zoo or circus animals, horse stables or wild animals, eg pigeon droppings
  • catering waste, unless it is to be used as animal feed, is going to a composting or biogas plant, or is from international transport, ie from aircraft or ships operating outside the European Union

Catering waste is waste food from:

  • restaurants
  • catering facilities, eg in offices
  • household kitchens

If animal by-product controls do not apply to your waste, you must comply with your duty of care for business waste. Food businesses also have to comply with food waste rules when disposing of food and catering waste.

Animal by-products risks 

Animal by-products pose potential risks to public and animal health. Improper use of animal by-products has resulted in outbreaks of serious diseases such as:

  • foot and mouth disease
  • classical swine fever
  • avian influenza 
  • Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) 

There are rules in place to control these risks by stating how animal by-products must be collected, stored, transported, treated, used and disposed of.