Bio-safety Assessment: Animal Fat in Biodiesel
Task 30 of the IEA’s AMF began in 2004 and was completed in 2006. The final report “Biodiesel from Specified Risk Material Tallow” resulting from the biodiesel workshop and research concluded that biodiesel made from specified risk material tallow, such as tallow potentially contaminated with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), poses negligible risk to human and animal health. The potential for BSE contamination of bovine tissues has led government regulatory agencies to designate certain high risk tissues as specified risk material (SRM), and prohibit their inclusion in either human or ruminant food, or in various other products such as biologicals, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, cosmetics and fertilizers. Subsequently, a substantial tonnage of animal tissue that would otherwise have been used in commercial enterprises is destroyed. The use of SRM to produce tallow for biodiesel production is one possible means to recoup at least some of this lost resource. The report, written by leading experts on transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) and BSE, animal rendering, and vehicular emissions, provides an in-depth study of BSE, from the first incident until 2006. It then examines the biodiesel production process using SRMinfected tallow, and the potential effects of using the end product (biodiesel fuel manufactured from specified risk material). As the BSE concern is constantly changing around the world, an addendum is included in the report, which can be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or from the AMF website. Also identified in the study were several gaps in current knowledge where additional research would be beneficial prior to undertaking a quantitative risk assessment. To supplement the data currently available, the University of Toronto is developing a methodology for testing various biodiesel production processes, to assess deactivation capabilities. A screening method for proteins in non-aqueous media is also being developed at Queen’s University. This methodology should become a valuable tool for confirming the absence of TSE-inducing agents in biodiesel produced from SRM and other animal waste products. In a separate segment of work, the Saskatchewan Research Council is creating new in-house capacity to produce protein materials for use in related research programs.