News last update:7 Aug 2012

Meat and bone meal still present in UK

UK government officials have admitted that animal feed containing meat and bone meal has been distributed across the country twelve years after it was banned due to its risk of BSE contamination, Farmers Guardian reports.

The Government's Animal Health agency has launched an investigation into the slip-up and is currently tracing the contaminated feed to farms and mills across the country. Animals that have been fed on contaminated feed could face compulsory slaughter in compliance with EU regulation.

"The materials involved are muscle fibre, animal bone and fish bone," read a statement on the Defra website. "This incident relates entirely to animal feed materials and a veterinary risk assessment is being conducted to determine if there is any risk to animal health. There is currently no evidence of any risk to public health."

The wheat feed, produced in Sweden, arrived into London's Tilbury Docks in March before being distributed to merchants and feed mills throughout the country.

The Food Standards Agency alerted the feed industry last week after routine samples from a feed business operator revealed traces of meat and bone meal. Any contamination would put the Government in breach of the EU's TSE and animal by-products legislation that was put in place to keep diseases such as BSE at bay.

Meat and bone meal was banned from cattle and sheep feed in 1988 and the ban was extended to all animal feed in 1996 after it was linked to the BSE outbreak. The epidemic reached its peak in 1992 when Britain confirmed 36,680 new BSE cases. Surveillance is ongoing and in the first four months of this year testing has revealed BSE in thirteen cattle and two sheep.

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