To Prevent an Epidemic, Stop Feeding Food Waste to Pigs

There is a high degree of uncertainty when it comes to food waste ingredients. Even those that have been cooked in high temperature are not necessarily free of viruses and bacteria. Many Western countries stopped feeding food waste to pigs long ago because they wanted to prevent an outbreak. Taiwan should seriously consider whether it should do the same.

A few days ago, the British Animal and Plant Health Agency posted a notice titled “The Risk of African Swine Flu Spreading to Great Britain Continues to Rise.” The notice stated that “because feeding food waste to pigs will spread the virus, it is illegal.” To help protect health of pigs and the livestock industry, many Western countries in addition to England banned feeding food waste to pigs over a decade ago, especially food waste that contains meat.

Whether it’s from restaurants or homes, the purity of the food waste is incredibility difficult to determine: Besides the possibility of containing contaminated meat products, it can often include miscellaneous items that are harmful to the pig’s health, such as plastic pieces that are not easily removed, napkins made of non-woven fabric, wooden or plastic toothpicks, etc. Although the Agriculture Department has already stipulated that only food that has been cooked at ninety degrees for over an hour can be fed to the pigs, some germs are still able to survive and thus impossible to contain further infection. In addition, it’s hard to be certain whether the kitchen really did cook the food at such a high temperature, thus increasing the risk of spreading the epidemic.  

So, what should be done with food waste? We should do proper separation from the beginning, to prevent food waste from being mixed in with daily living items that are ultimately incinerated or buried. This can help prevent the overuse of incinerators and landfills. There are also hidden business and local employment opportunities behind the upgrading and industrialization of food waste. Through an intermediate process, pure, unmixed food waste can be processed into high value products. In addition to becoming organic fertilizer, feed, biomass, or biomass materials, advanced biorefineries can process food waste into high-value protein, vitamin, amino acids, lipids, etc. Ultimately, replacing chemical fertilizers with organic fertilizers is the best way to restore soil, air, and water sources that have been polluted over a long period of time.  



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