Food Law News - EU - 2012

Commission Midday Express, 13 December 2012

BSE - Member States back Commission exemption on BSE testing for healthy cattle

Measures to introduce a new BSE testing regime were endorsed by experts meeting in the Standing Committee of the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCFCAH). Under these measures, all Member States, except Bulgaria and Romania, will be able to stop testing healthy cattle at slaughter for BSE. This new testing regime will not only still far exceed the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) international standard, but will also annually save the EU budget, €36 million. The testing regime of at-risk cattle (e.g. fallen stock, casualty slaughter and clinical suspects) will however remain unchanged. The removal during slaughter of specified risk materials (the organs harbouring the BSE infectivity in an animal affected by BSE), which is the central measure for the protection of human health will also not be affected by the new measures.

Healthy slaughtered cattle have been included in the BSE surveillance system since January 2001 in an effort to gather appropriate epidemiological data to follow the evolution of the BSE prevalence. Thanks to the significant improvement of the BSE situation in most Member States, the minimal age of animals to be tested has already been raised progressively since 2009 from over 30 months to over 72 months.

A scientific report published by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on 15 October 2012 estimated that even with no healthy slaughter animals tested, the performance achieved by the existing BSE at risk testing was over 50 times greater than the relevant international standard established by the OIE.

The new regime is expected to enter into force by end of March 2013.

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