Eblex advocates update to TSE regulations
Published:  11 November, 2013

Eblex chairman John Cross called for changes to “outdated” transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) regulations at the organisation’s recent annual conference.

He said the TSE regulations, which demand that older lamb carcases be split and have the specified risk materials (SRM) removed, were adding “unnecessary cost to the industry and hindering international trade”.

However, the chairman did not suggest standards and safeguards should be relaxed, but told the conference that measures should be risk-based and relate to “current evidence”. Cross added that some of the TSE regulations introduced, were no longer relevant and were brought in following the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) crisis in the late 1990s.

Cross explained: “Regulation must be the result of science-based risk assessment and management in order to protect and benefit society. Regulation in the food chain is essential for a safe consumer environment. In the past, regulations around BSE and TSEs more generally, along with SRM measures, were science-based and fit for purpose and I think we can all look back and feel reassured that the scientists got it right.

“These safeguards are equally important for other countries interested in importing our products, so they understand the level of risk and the control measures we have in place.”

The chairman explained that BSE was behind the sector, yet the regulation left behind was a hindrance to the trade and the UK’s international reputation. “I mention this particularly with regards to older lamb carcases, which have to be split to meet the statutory checks, when customers want them whole.”

Keep regulation live, he urged, noting it was essential in the food chain, yet had to be risk-based and fit for purpose. “The current situation needs reviewing.”

FSA board meeting

The call came on the same day the Food Standards Agency (FSA) discussed a paper on BSE controls at its board meeting (5 November).

It was revealed in the paper that several SRM breaches had been made during the compiling of the report, but the FSA said there was minimal risk to public health.

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