News 226 views last update:6 Aug 2012

UK cautious over BSE testing age

The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) calls for a further report on BSE surveillance before the country will implement the new BSE testing rules.

The EU decided to increase the age at which slaughter cattle must be tested for BSE to 48 months, thus reducing the number of cattle tested. The new EU legislation is expected to come into force on January 1 2009, subject to approval by the European Parliament. At present, all healthy cattle destined for human consumption must be BSE tested if slaughtered at over 30 months, while fallen cattle must be tested at over 24 months.

Following a meeting of the FSA board on October 15, chair Dame Deirdre Hutton said: "The board supports the move to testing at 48 months but would not wish this to be implemented until a further report on surveillance has been produced and this has been passed to SEAC (the Spongiform Encephalopathies Advisory Committee) for review.

The Farmers' Union of Wales (FUW) reacted angrily to the FSA's decision to create "hurdles that could delay the lifting of the [age] limit and cost the beef industry millions". FUW livestock committee chairman Aeron Prysor Jones said a comprehensive analysis by the UK Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) had concluded that even if the testing limit was raised to 60 months, the risk to humans would effectively be zero.

[source: AgraEurope]

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