20 November 1998
Fischler tries for EU-wide SRM removal again

By Philip Clarke

EU farm commissioner Franz Fischler is trying again get specified risk materials (SRM) removed from the human food chain in all EU member states.

Twice in the past year farm ministers have rejected his plans for EU-wide controls for beef and sheep SRMs – such as brain and spinal cord – with particularly strong opposition coming from allegedly BSE-free countries such as Germany and Austria.

Other countries, such as the UK and Ireland, have complained that by taking unilateral action their meat industries are burdened with unfair additional costs.

To try to appease all sides, the new SRM proposal breaks the EU down into four categories based on the level of risk of BSE.

Countries which make it into Category 1, (zero risk), will not have to remove any SRMs. But those in Category 4, (high risk), will have to destroy the full range, including vertebral column, intestines (from the duodenum to the rectum) and all bones from animals over six months of age.

Governments will have to supply the EU Commission with detailed information on the incidence of BSE and the measures already taken to control the disease to find out which category they are in. In the absence of a submission, Brussels will decide.