Euro-vets to lower at-risk cattle age
By Philip Clarke, Europe editor
RANDOM checks for scrapie in sheep and a reduction in the age for testing “at risk” cattle for BSE are to be introduced throughout the EU.
EU vets have decided that sheep testing will be introduced from 1 January, 2002, three months later than the commission hoped for due to logistical reasons.
It will focus on animals over 18 months old, including those sent to abattoirs as well as fallen stock.
“This will give us more detailed information on this animal disease,” said consumer affairs commissioner David Byrne.
From 1 July, 2001, the age for testing cattle sent for emergency slaughter, found sick at the abattoir or which died on farms, will be cut from 30 to 24 months.
“This is to provide an early warning system of any unfavourable trend in the incidence of BSE.”
The situation will be reviewed in the light of results from the first six months of tests, said the vets.
The standing veterinary committee also agreed that the UK should test at least 50,000 over-30-month cattle “to obtain a better epidemiological picture”.
Vets took this decision even though such animals are systematically destroyed.
Committee members disagreed over the commissions plan to extend the current EU-wide ban on meat and bonemeal until next year.
“France, Germany and Austria rejected it because they wanted the ban made permanent,” said a UK government source.
“The UK abstained, because the proposal gives no guarantees that the ban on fishmeal will be lifted for ruminants. There is no scientific justification for this.”
The question of meat and bonemeal will therefore go to next weeks farm council in Luxembourg for a decision.
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