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Food Quality and Safety in Europe



Fat by- and co-products from the food chain are a cost-effective ingredient for animal feed producers, as well as a source of environmentally sustainable growth. However, poor regulation of both origin and quality of these materials allows toxic and undesirable compounds to enter the food chain. In its effort to assure food chain integrity, the European Union has taken steps to reduce chemical contamination of fats used in animal feeds, but many knowledge gaps remain. The nine partners of the Specific Targeted Research Project (STREP) Feeding Fats Safety will assess the risks of using recycled fats in animal feeds. They will identify and quantify these harmful compounds and propose ways to use fats safely.

Europeans' exposure to dietary PCBs, dioxins and dioxin-like compounds widely exceeds maximum values set by the World Health Organisation. These contaminantss are fat-soluble carcinogens and are linked to many serious illnesses. Since they are fatsoluble, they bio-accumulate in adipose tissue over a lifetime.

Maximum levels have been established in feeds for dioxins and furans but not for dioxin-like PCBs. Other liposoluble toxic compounds in foods are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and some flame retardant compounds (PBDE), which are not well understood and for which maximum dietary levels have not been determined.

Foods of animal origin contribute 80% to the total dioxin human exposure, and feedstuffs are the primary path dioxins take to enter meat. Fish oils and fish meals are the most heavily dioxin-contaminated feedstuffs, followed by animal fats. Frying and cooking, and particularly some industrial processes such refining and hydrogenation, can provoke some alteration of fats, increasing the presence of trans fatty acids and oxidising lipids.


FEEDING FATS SAFETY's nine teams have expertise in veterinary science, chemistry, biochemistry, analysis and quality control, environment, and nutrition. They will take an inverse approach to the food chain, 'from fork to farm', to generate data about animal production. Starting with fat production and feed manufacture, they will follow feed throughout the production of meat for human consumption.

The teams will characterise the chemical composition, degradation and contamination levels of a wide array of feeding fats constituting by-products or co-products from the food chain. They will study the effects of fatenriched feed on animal health and on meat's lipid composition, oxidation, nutritional quality and safety, and determine how contaminants get from fats into meat and other animal tissues and fluids.


The EU Directive EC Nº 178/2002 established general principles and requirements of food safety and law, including the safety of animal-feed ingredients. EU Regulation 1774/2002 introduced strict controls to prevent undesirable compounds entering the food chain via some but not all fat materials.

FEEDING FATS SAFETY will generate more complete knowledge about composition, degradation and contamination characteristics of fatty by- and coproducts. This will help improve standardisation, achieve strict quality regulation, and set maximum contaminant levels for more types of these feed fats.

For industry, better reference standards, guidelines and quick, easy analysis methods will enable companies to assess quality and safety on-site, to ensure traceability in feed and meat production. Meat production based on food-chain co- and by-products will enable environmentally sustainable farming systems for safe, nutritional and appetising meat.

The project will promote collaboration between scientific institutions and companies across the EU and disseminate knowledge on feed fats to producers. It will also conduct an information campaign to educate consumers and improve confidence in the food chain.

List of Partners

  • University of Barcelona (Spain)
  • Institut d'Investigacions Químiques i Ambientals, CSIC (Spain)
  • Stazione Sperimentale d'Oli e Grassi (Italy)
  • Swedish University of Agricultural Science (Sweden)
  • University Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain)
  • University Politècnica de Valencia (Spain)
  • University of Bologna (Italy)
  • University of Bordeaux 1 (France)
  • SILO (Italy)
Full title:
Quality and safety of feeding fats obtained from coproducts or by-products from the food chain
Contract n°:
Project co-ordinator:
Rafael Codony, University of Barcelona,
EC Scientific Officer:
Hallgeir Herikstad,
EU contribution:
€ 1.4M
Specific Targeted Research Project

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Last update: 06 December 2007 | Top