FSA News Item, 31 October 2008
The Food Standards Agency has today launched a joint consultation with Defra and the Welsh Assembly Government on proposals to increase the minimum age at which cattle are tested for BSE. Separately, consultations have also been issued today by FSA Scotland with the Scottish Government and FSA Northern Ireland with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Northern Ireland.
Under these proposals, the minimum age for BSE testing cattle slaughtered for human consumption and fallen stock would rise to 48 months and the legislation in all four countries of the UK would be amended to give effect to this change.
The FSA has held a number of stakeholder meetings to discuss this important issue and FSA will continue to engage with consumer groups throughout this consultation period.
The decision as to whether this change should be implemented in the UK will be taken in the light of the responses to the public consultation. The FSA Board and UK Health Ministers must also be in agreement before implementation can take place. Also on 15 October, the FSA Board agreed in principle that the age above which cattle slaughtered for human consumption require BSE testing could be raised to 48 months, but did not want this to be implemented until the Spongiform Encephalopathies Advisory Committee (SEAC) had reviewed a further report on BSE surveillance. Defra is preparing a further report and SEAC's further advice will be considered by the FSA Board on 10 December.
Responses to the consultation should be received by 3 December 2008 ahead of the FSA Board meeting on 10 December. This consultation has received Ministerial clearance to proceed over a reduced time period in order to meet the EU's expected timetable.
Further details of the consultation can be found on the DEFRA web site at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/bse-testing/index.htm