BRUSSELS, BELGIUM — The European Union may lift a ban on animal byproducts in pig and poultry feed, Reuters reported on March 26. The ban was imposed more than 10 years ago during the mad cow disease outbreak.

Stricter safety rules on processed animal proteins (PAPs), that include intestine, bones, blood and feather, would be imposed if the ban is lifted, Reuters said.

"We are currently discussing with member states the potential re-authorization of processed animal proteins in feed for poultry and pigs from 2014," said a spokesman for Tonio Borg, the E.U.'s Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner.

The byproducts from pig and poultry slaughter were banned in 2000 as a precaution after the mad cow outbreak and the number of cases in the E.U. fell from 2,167 cases in 2001 to 45 cases in 2009 according to the World Health Organization.

Byproducts can be used in pet food, and starting in June, they will be allowed in E.U. fish feed. The next step would be to allow them in poultry and pig feed, Reuters said. It would stay banned in cattle and sheep, where it was most closely linked to mad cow disease.

The E.U. hopes lifting the ban would ease a shortage of cheaper domestically-produced protein. In 2011, the E.U. used around 49.9 million tonnes of protein source in feed but only half of it came from Europe, Reuters said.