Feeding Food or Table Waste to Livestock 1

M. L. Westendorf, E. W. Zirkle Pas, R. Gordon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Feeding of food waste remains a common practice in many parts of the U.S. and around the world. Food waste comprises about 8.9% of the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) stream but may cause a substantial proportion of the disposal costs due to odors, gas production, and rodent control at landfills. Because food waste is often of a very high nutritional value, it may be fed to livestock. Texas, Florida, and New Jersey are the leading states disposing of the greatest amount of food waste as livestock feed. This waste is composed primarily of food and table plate waste, vegetable and food processing waste, bakery waste, and waste from dairy product and egg processing. The 1980 Swine Health Protection Act requires that all table waste fed to swine be cooked at boiling temperature (l00 °C) for 30 min prior to feeding. This is the minimum requirement in all states, although some states have banned its use altogether. The cooking methods currently approved by the USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) are either a steam cooking method or a direct fire cook. The requirement for cooking is meant to eliminate the possibility that any foreign animal diseases (Hog Cholera, Foot and Mouth Disease, Africa Swine Fever, and Swine Vesicular Disease) would infect swine or that any infectious organisms of public health significance (Salmonella, Campylobacter, Trichinella, and Toxoplasma) might potentially be transferred to humans. There are currently no federal requirements regulating the feeding of food waste to ruminants. Recent research has indicated that food waste generally has high nutritive quality (CP. > 20%, Fat. > 20%) and that it can make a nutritious animal feed. There is a need for more contemporary feeding and nutrition information, because much of the research done with food waste was done in the 1960s or earlier. In addition, development of modern processing methods might eliminate some of the problems and stigma traditionally associated with this practice. We conclude that feeding food waste to livestock can be an effective recycling practice, result in a more efficient resource utilization, and contribute to the overall goal of sustainability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-137
Number of pages9
JournalProfessional Animal Scientist
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology


  • Food Waste
  • Garbage
  • Recycling
  • Swine

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