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Government to be Advised Over Cattle BSE Tests

13 December 2012

UK - The Food Standards Agency, in response to a European Commission proposal, has decided to bring a stop to testing older cattle providing other current precautionary measures are properly maintained.

This comes after agreement in an FSA board meeting advising the UK government that cattle aged over 72 months no longer require testing for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) providing the cattle are healthy and other safety controls are vigiliantly enforced.

The two controls, designed to protect both animal and consumer, are the animal feed ban that rules against animal protein being put in farmed cattle feed and the removal of specified risk material (SRM)- the most risky parts of the animal carcase- at slaughter.

Jeff Rooker, Chairman of the FSA, said:"The FSA is here to protect the public and, with no new BSE cases in cattle slaughtered for their meat for more than three years, we believe the decision to stop this particular testing requirement is a proportionate measure.However, this is not a green light for the industry to cut corners, so it is imperative the other controls, including the other surveillance measures, are maintained vigilantly.”

National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS) President, Nigel Miller, has welcomed the decision: "The shadow cast by BSE on the Scottish beef industry is finally lifting and an end to testing of animals entering the food chain is a mark of the commitment our beef sector undertook to eradicate the disease from our animals."

“NFUS has always argued that controls must be based on science and is pleased to see that the FSA have followed the science in making this recommendation to the UK Government," said Mr Miller.

Mr Miller also said that with the success of European Union BSE policy over recent years could come further considerations about the risks posed by SRM. The removal of SRM costs processors time and money. NFU Scotland have voiced support for a revision of the SRM law with a view to declassifying certain parts of carcase.

If the government adapt current BSE testing legislation there will be a monitory report after six months in an effort to maintain industry and consumer confidence and gauge the efficacy of feed and SRM measures with annual reports to follow.

TheMeatSite News Desk

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