Dear Mary,

Re Composting Consultation on your website - see advance extract from this weekend's Smallholders Online newsletter.

Best wishes


..... New regulations make it effectively impossible to both garden and keep a pig
So although we would never feed a pig with meat scraps, taken at face value, this new restriction makes it impossible to keep a pet pig and a garden. We have to choose between my wife's hobby and mine. We were just on the point of bringing in a new in-pig sow Someone tells me just ignore them. Hardly, I'm already targeted by the famous trio of Scudamore, Alick Simmons and Helen Duncan for shopping them over the blood test faking and intimidation. They are obviously out to "get" us, for daring to expose the criminal activities of the State Veterinary Service.
We can't stand watching them abuse harmless tame pet animals again.

Alan's reply:

Regarding composting and pet pigs - don't panic (yet). I have also been studying the consultation documents, even though we all know what DEFRA consultation exercises are - a complete sham, the decisions have already been taken. The wording seems to be saying that catering waste may not be composted, and that catering waste includes domestic kitchen waste.  Well, it has long been the case that kitchen waste must not be fed to pigs.  Now, you must not put it on the compost heap either.  That's all.  Green waste from the garden, or anywhere else, that has not been through the kitchen is exempt. So it isn't too onerous.  I have e-mailed DEFRA to check this out and ensure that my interpretation is correct (I've been wrong before), but on the face of it, just prepare your vegetables in an outhouse or separate room from the kitchen, away from any possible contact with meat, and you are in the clear.  Even you, in your situation. I've attached a summary of the key paragraphs for you.
7. The proposal applies to catering waste from premises handling meat or products of animal origin. Catering waste from premises on which meat or products of animal origin are not handled may already be treated in composting or biogas plants, and is not affected by this proposal. Green waste is not affected by the proposal. Domestic householders wishing to compost their own kitchen scraps on their own compost heap are exempt from the rules, provided that they do not keep pigs, ruminants or poultry on the premises (see paragraph 9 below). However, the disposal of meat scraps in garden compost heaps is not recommended. Doing so can increase the risk of spreading disease via scavenging wildlife to livestock.
9. Veterinary advice, supported by the risk assessment, is that composting of catering waste containing meat should not be done on premises on which ruminants or pigs are kept. On premises where poultry are kept, composting should be done in a closed container or composting bin.
10. This means that no farmer who keeps ruminants or pigs could diversify into commercial composting of animal by-products or catering waste.
11. These restrictions also apply to domestic householders who keep ruminants, pigs or poultry. If you keep a pet pig or any pet ruminant, you must not compost catering waste on your premises. This includes food waste from your own kitchen. If you keep poultry, you may compost your own kitchen waste, provided that you do so in a closed container.
14. Under the EU Regulation, the definition of catering waste will be 'all waste food originating in restaurants, catering facilities and kitchens, including central kitchens and household kitchens'.
2. What exactly is catering waste? Catering waste means waste food originating in restaurants, catering facilities and kitchens. This includes domestic household kitchens. It also includes waste from the production of food products in food factories. The proposed Amendment applies to catering waste which contains meat or products of animal origin, or which comes from premises which handle meat or products of animal origin. Catering waste which does not contain meat or products of animal origin, and which does not come from a premises handling meat (such as waste from a dedicated fruit and vegetable shop) is not controlled by the Order.
5. Can I compost animal by-products under this legislation?
The amended Order will allow you to compost catering waste. But you will not be able to compost animal by-products prior to the introduction of the new EU Regulation in spring 2003. Once the EU Regulation comes into force, you will be permitted to treat low-risk (so-called category 3) animal by-products in an approved composting or biogas plant. Animal by-products will need to be treated to the EU standard set out in the Regulation, which is treatment at 700C for 1 hour, with a maximum particle size of 12mm. Please note that animals that die on-farm are not low-risk material and cannot be composted.
9. Is there a disease risk? It is believed that last year's foot-and-mouth outbreak, and the Classical swine fever outbreak in 2001, were caused by contaminated catering waste. This is why we need to ensure that premises wishing to use catering waste in composting or biogas treatment do so safely
10. Do I need an approval?
Yes. All composting and biogas plants treating catering waste containing meat or originating from premises handling meat must be approved by Defra. However, this does not apply to domestic householders composting their own kitchen waste on their own compost heap. Domestic householders will not be affected by the new rules, unless they keep livestock (see below).
Home composting
15. Can I still compost at home?
Yes, provided you do not keep pigs or ruminants on the premises. If you are only composting your own kitchen scraps on your own compost heap, you are not affected by the rules. If you keep poultry, you may compost your kitchen scraps at home, but you must do so in an enclosed container.
16. What if I keep pigs or ruminants, can I still compost?
No. Contaminated catering waste is thought to have been the cause both of the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in 2001, and the Classical swine fever outbreak in 2000. It is very important that livestock susceptible to diseases that can be transmitted through infected meat are kept away from catering waste. If you keep ruminants or pigs, even as pets, you must not compost on the premises. This includes composting your own kitchen scraps.
17. I'm not a farmer, I just have a pet pig. Can I compost?
No. Pet animals are just as susceptible to diseases as farmed animals, and must not be allowed access to catering waste. If you keep a pet pig or any pet ruminant you must not compost on the premises. This does not of course prevent you from sending your kitchen waste for composting on an approved site elsewhere. If you keep poultry and you wish to compost at home, you must do so in an enclosed container.
Future action
19. Comments are requested by Wednesday 12 February 2003 at the latest to Jon Rouse, Area 305, 1A Page Street,
London, SW1P 4PQ or by email to: The final date for comment is 12 weeks from the date of this letter. All comments are welcome, but views are particularly sought on the issues of permitting housed windrows, and banning composting on premises where pigs or ruminants are present.

From Alan to DEFRA:

Sent: 30 November 2002 23:43

With reference to these specific proposals, I have studied the documents published on your website and find some of the wording contradictory and unclear with respect to composting on premises where small numbers of ruminants and pigs are also present.  Some readers have concluded that it will be illegal under these proposals to make any form of compost on domestic premises or smallholdings where farm livestock are kept.  However, another equally valid interpretation is that only kitchen scraps must not be composted, and that all other green waste (from the garden etc.) can continue to be composted, provided that such waste has not passed through the kitchen. Will you please clarify this issue as a matter of urgency, as it is central to the response of the many thousands of people who keep livestock on a small scale.


From: Rouse, Jonathan (BSE) []
Sent: 02 December 2002 15:46
To: 'alan & rosie beat'

With respect to your query about composting on premises where livestock are kept:
Garden waste can continue to be composted as before and is not affected by the proposal.  You may still compost green waste if you keep livestock. However kitchen scraps cannot be composted if ruminants or pigs are kept on the premises, or such scraps must be composted in a closed container if poultry are kept.
I hope this helps clarify the proposals.