EU proposes to relax BSE rules on British beef

Beef industry bodies are welcoming a unwinding of mad cow disease restrictions across Europe to help secure consumer confidence in the safety of British red meat.

The publication of the Commission's Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSE) Roadmap 2 which proposes a relaxation of the law follows on from a continual decline in BSE across Europe.

Both the National Farmer’s Union (NFU) and National Beef Association (NBA) are supporting the announcement, which is claimed to offer some hope for what they term an overburdened industry.

NFU livestock board chairman Alistair Mackintosh said: "Following the publication of the second Roadmap, we believe the time has come to re-evaluate these controls and, where appropriate, relax them based on sound scientific advice. It is important that the rules are proportionate to any risk posed.

"I am also delighted that the Commission now recognises that the risk of TSEs in the food chain is negligible and it has reduced to such a point that we can now look at ways to relax these controls."

The Roadmap will also give the chance to ease the cost burden of SRM (specific risk material) removal and the brain stem testing of cattle over 48 month olds for BSE according to the NBA.

Kim Haywood, NBA director, added: “It is clear that, even though only 67 BSE cases were recorded across the entire EU over 2009 and the projected figure for 2010/11 is likely to be less, the Commission is still just as cautious over the theoretical risk as the original Road Map of 2005, the National Beef Association has noted.

"The Commission is prepared to be tolerant in the use of MBM or Processed Animal Protein as a feed product for some animals like pigs or poultry, but the use of bovine meat and bone meal as a feed is out of the question and so the cost of disposing SRM will continue for the beef industry.”

The TSE Road Map 2 is aimed at promoting discussion between Brussels and the beef and sheep industry across all EU members states.

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