Human Food Waste (By-product) Diversion

What can be diverted to animal feed?

Over 12.5 million tons of human food waste is currently being diverted to animal feed within California’s livestock feed industry. The diversion of this tonnage that would otherwise be going to landfills demonstrates the feed industry’s innovative recycling nature. CDFA’s Commercial Feed Regulatory Program and the feed industry see potential to increase the capacity of food waste diversion to animal food and allow for additional diversion. New streams of diversion can include food from human food manufacturing facilities. These facilities may include: human food manufacturers, restaurants, retail establishments or anywhere that serves food (i.e. hotels and cafeterias). Products may be diverted to animal feed if they are properly stored, handled and have remaining nutritional value for livestock. A list of these products can include, but are not limited to: cull fruits/vegetables, fruit/vegetable pomace, bakery products, or products that are at the end of their shelf life.


Human food processing plants and other facilities that are diverting human food waste to animal feed are required to obtain a California Commercial Feed License. Visit for more information about CDFA’s Feed Laws & Regulations and licensing requirements. Additionally, any inedible products containing raw meat or meat products are required to go to rendering. Refer to CDFA’s Rendering Program for more information,

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Food Hierarchy

Via U.S. EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy diagram below, we can see that recovering food to feed animals is the next best use for food products when they can no longer be used to feed humans.

Food recovery hierarchy diagram