Feeding food waste to pigs and preventing disease

If you feed food waste to your own pigs, or supply it to feed to pigs, you must meet certain requirements to reduce the risk of spreading unwanted diseases. Find out what you need to do.

Why rules are needed

Despite border controls, unauthorised meat products could potentially get into New Zealand. This illegally imported meat could contain diseases like foot-and-mouth disease and the swine fevers. Feeding it to pigs could spread these diseases.

To reduce this risk you must meet certain requirements if you supply food waste for feeding to pigs. This includes:

  • pig owners and farmers
  • food manufacturers, food service operators, butchers, and food retailers
  • hospitals, schools, or households.

Make sure food waste is safe to feed

If you supply food waste for feeding to pigs – either to someone else or directly to your own pigs – you must make sure either:

  • the food waste doesn't contain meat and hasn't come into contact with meat. Meat-free waste can be fed to pigs without further treatment, or 
  • food waste that contains meat, or has come into contact with meat, is treated before being fed to pigs. Treatment involves heating the food waste to destroy any disease-causing bacteria and viruses.

If you supply untreated food waste that has come into contact with meat to someone else, you must have reasonable grounds to believe they will treat it before feeding it to pigs.

How to treat food waste

Treat food waste by heating it to 100 degrees Celsius for one hour. An easy way to do this is to boil the food waste for one hour while stirring frequently – make sure you keep it at boiling point for the whole hour.

MPI can approve alternative treatment options. For more information, email foodwaste@mpi.govt.nz

What does 'meat' include?

'Meat' includes any material from an animal, except for eggs and egg products, milk and milk products, and rendered material (such as tallow, blood meal, meat and bone meal). These other 'non-meat' products don't need to be heat-treated before feeding to pigs.

Video – Feeding waste food to pigs (1:17)

New Zealand is free of many of the diseases that trouble pig farmers around the world.

Our disease-free status is like money in the bank.

And to keep our country this way, rules are in place to restrict the kinds of food scraps you can feed to pigs.

The reality is that by feeding meat to pigs you run the risk of diseases like Foot & Mouth establishing and spreading in New Zealand if they were ever introduced here.

For this reason feeding meat scraps to pigs is a no go.

Meat free food scraps like bread, vegetables, and dairy products are all perfectly good feed options for pigs as long as they haven't come into contact with meat.

If you can't be sure scraps are meat free, they need to be heat treated before you feed them to your pigs.

The rules say you must cook them at 100 degrees for an hour.

This heat treatment will kill off any bacteria and viruses that could potentially cause illness.

So remember, if food waste is on your pig's menu, make sure they're meat free, or that they've been treated to eliminate the risk of illness.

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Get a written statement if supplying others

If you supply untreated food waste to someone else, MPI recommends you get a written statement from them confirming:

  • the food waste will be treated according to the rules
  • that you have permission to forward their details to MPI.

Get this statement even if you are supplying food waste that hasn't come in contact with meat.

When you're asked for a statement

If you get food waste from a supplier – such as a hospital, school, supermarket or food business – they may ask you to provide written confirmation that you will use the food waste according to the rules. The supplier may pass on your contact details to MPI.

This statement isn't a requirement, but shows compliance with the regulations. You can use MPI's Undertaking for food waste supply and collection template to record the statement.

Email completed statements to foodwaste@mpi.govt.nz

If in doubt, treat food waste

If you aren't sure what's in the food waste or whether it has been heat treated, you must treat it before feeding it to pigs. Alternatively, ask for a declaration from the supplier that the food waste:

  • was treated according to the rules, or
  • doesn't contain meat or hasn't come into contact with meat.

Report non-compliant food waste

If you suspect untreated food waste, that contains or has been in contact with meat, is being fed to pigs, report the pig owner and food waste supplier to MPI. Your details will be kept confidential.

MPI regularly visits farms to check that pig owners (and food waste suppliers) are complying with the rules.

If you feed non-compliant food waste to pigs

The Biosecurity (Meat and Food Waste for Pigs) Regulations 2005 set out the rules around food waste for pigs to reduce the risk of spreading unwanted diseases.

Under the regulations, you could be fined up to $5,000 for an individual or $15,000 for a corporation if you:

  • feed untreated food waste to pigs that contains meat, or has been in contact with meat
  • allow someone to feed untreated food waste to pigs that contains meat, or has been in contact with meat.

Find out more

Who to contact

If you have questions about food waste for feeding to pigs:

If you notice unusual symptoms in your animals, report them to your vet or MPI's pest-and-disease hotline on 0800 80 99 66.

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