15 September 2000

No relaxation of BSE controls yet, says FSA

THE Food Standards Agency has said there will be no relaxation of BSE controls until scientists can show that BSE cases in cattle are falling in line with forecasts.

The agency on Wednesday published a draft report of its review of BSE controls which is due to be handed to ministers in November. Chairman Sir John Krebs said the evidence was that BSE controls were working.

The report says that the over 30-month scheme for cattle should not be relaxed until the completion, in August 2001, of a review into the effectiveness of tightened feed controls in 1996 and of BSE incidence.

More evidence

The agency also insists that no change should be made until it has evidence that cattle traceability is sufficiently robust. It recommends January 2002 as the earliest date by which a decision could be taken on the scheme.

The draft review says that no changes should be made on current specified risk material controls in cattle until the UK is designated a low BSE status country. It does say, however, that tighter controls would be needed in sheep if BSE was found.

The report indicates that there is no likelihood of the ban on meat and bonemeal in animal feed being lifted.

The agency also urges the EU Commission to act to prevent the risk of BSE being spread by pig and poultry feed, which can contain MBM, infecting ruminant feed in mills in other member states.

The report emphasises that consumers must be protected from BSE risks from imported meat. &#42