Opening a butcher’s shop? 3 essential things you need to know about waste disposal regulations
If you’re opening a butcher’s shop, it’s important to be aware that food safety regulations are just as strict for the waste you don’t sell as for the meat that you do. This is because butchers’ waste – also known as ABP, or animal by-products – can very easily pose a risk to human health.
Here are 3 essential things you need to know as a starting point.
1. By law, you must separate butchers’ waste into three categories: category 1,2, and 3.
Categories 1 and 2 are for high risk materials, category 3 is for low risk material.
Most butchers’ waste is category 3 – animal by-products from animals slaughtered for human consumption. Category 3 covers two main types of butchers’ waste.
The first is meat originally meant for human consumption that is no longer fit to eat but isn’t showing any obvious signs of spoiling. Examples of where this might apply include meat that has been stored or found to be over temperature, meat that has been dropped on a clean floor and picked up promptly, and meat products past their use by date.
The second is material not suitable for (or not intended for) human consumption, such as bones and trimmed fat.
You may also have some category 2 waste. Category 2 covers any meat that has spoilt and presents a risk to human health. This includes mouldy or decomposing meat and blown vacuum packs.
Most butchers don’t handle category 1 waste, which includes ‘specified risk material’, or SRM. SRM is the parts of an animal that might pose a risk to human health, such as cows’ spinal cords. Only licenced cutting plants can remove SRM from carcasses.
2. Butchers’ waste must be collected without undue delay
The law states that butchers’ waste must be collected ‘without undue delay’. In practice, this means you should get rid of waste before it can become a nuisance. The length of time between collections will vary depending on how much waste you have, how much waste storage capacity you have, and how you manage the waste.
If you keep waste outside then you will need the bins emptied often to minimise the risk of smells and of attracting pests such as rats and insects. In hot weather, frequent emptying is especially important.
3. You are legally responsible for what happens to your waste
There are strict rules around the disposal of the different categories of butchers’ waste. And as the person disposing of the waste, you are the one legally responsible for what happens to it. You can be fined if your waste is found to have been disposed of illegally.
Whatever the size of your business, you’ll therefore need the waste to be collected by a licensed waste carrier who will follow waste disposal regulations. This may be either a generalist waste carrier offering a specialist ABP service, or a specialist carrier. If you are a retail butcher producing less than 20kg of ABPs each week, you can also put the waste into your normal business waste bins (if your collector agrees). Whichever option you choose, you must keep documentary evidence of the collection.
But there’s more to waste disposal than simply meeting legal requirements. Do you want your waste to go to landfill? Or would you – like an increasing number of butchers – rather know your ABPs are being recycled, keeping nutrients in the food chain and reducing carbon emissions? Ask carriers what they do with the waste they collect before deciding which one to use.