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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Swine and Garbage

The Swine that You Ingested for Dinner Could Have Been Eating Your Garbage

The feeding of food waste or garbage to swine and other livestock animals is a common practice throughout the world and is often concentrated around metropolitan centers. Food plate waste (formerly referred to as garbage) may be fed to other livestock species, but has most often been used as a source of feed for swine. High disposal costs and fees encourage the feeding of food/plate waste.

Food waste can be defined as any edible material or byproduct that is generated in the production, processing, transportation, distribution, or consumption of food. The primary waste products fed to swine are plate and kitchen waste, bakery waste, and food products from grocery stores. The primary sources of plate waste are restaurants, institutions, schools, and to a small degree, households. Food waste originating from restaurants, institutions, and schools has traditionally been referred to as garbage and has been regulated as such. According to the USDA there are over 2,200 licensed garbage feeders in the United States and nearly 3,000 in Puerto Rico (USDA-APHIS, VS, 1995). For the purpose of this article, the term food waste will be used to refer to all food wastes, including plate waste, kitchen or table scraps, garbage or swill and all food residuals discarded after serving.

Feeding food waste to swine has been common in the United States, especially in rural areas adjacent to major metropolitan areas. This practice has declined in recent years because of stricter federal, state, and local laws regulating animal health, transportation, and the feed usage of food waste. Although the feeding of raw (unprocessed) food waste to animals has been limited, there are still many states that allow it in some form.

M. L. Westendorf and R.O. Myer