Farmers welcome BSE rule change

Farming leaders have praised the Food Standards Agency’s decision to move to a more proportionate and risk-based BSE control regime for cattle over 30 months old.

The FSA’s new rules will bring the regime for cattle over 30 months old into line with the approach already taken for cattle under 30 months old.

The changes cover the level of official supervision that is applied by the Meat Hygiene Service in abattoirs and cutting plants and do not cover the specified risk material controls or BSE testing requirements themselves.

The FSA has said the move is being made as a result of the continued declining risk from BSE in cattle. This follows the SEAC risk assessment which concluded the risk to human health from BSE is very low and changing the control regime would have no impact on the level of risk.

National Farmers’ Union livestock board chairman Alistair Mackintosh said: “This decision from the FSA is good news. This common sense approach means that our views have been taken into account and the approach taken with cattle under 30 months will be extended to those over 30 months as part of a proportionate risk-based regime.

“Livestock farmers, and indeed the whole meat supply chain, work hard to ensure the very highest of standards for food safety and meat hygiene are maintained and we take our responsibilities for consumer protection extremely seriously.

“However, we would like to see further progression of the TSE roadmap, and further moves to a risk-based approach regarding BSE control measures. With that in mind we were disappointed that the derogation to allow removal of over-30-month vertebral column specified risk material in authorised butchers was not taken at this time.”

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