13 November 2000
Brussels wants Europe-wide BSE tests
By FWi staff
BRUSSELS is proposing comprehensive BSE-testing of all cattle above a certain age in all member states.
Agriculture commissioner Franz Fischler and David Byrne, commissioner for health and consumer protection, hope this will help allay consumer safety fears.
This goes beyond the programme agreed earlier targeting 170,000 animals showing neurological symptoms, and which comes into force from 1 January.
Proposals for a wider test come as panic over BSE grows in France after it emerged that beef from a contaminated herd entered the food chain.
Options for introducing the new test will be discussed by the Standing Veterinary Committee on Wednesday (15 November) and the Agriculture Council on 20 November.
Mr Byrne said it was vital to be transparent with the public on the issue: “There must be no hidden agendas. No distortions. No false assurances.”
He added the EU has put in place a comprehensive series of controls which he was satisfied reduced the risk to a very low level.
“The envisaged programme will however increase information and transparency to the consumer and further strengthen our controls.”
Mr Fischler added: “I am convinced that farmers agree with me that it is of utmost importance to restore public trust in beef products.”
Mr Byrne reiterated an earlier call on Member States to introduce earlier than planned the agreed testing programme and enlarge it substantially.
The EU has also said that despite the recent increase of BSE cases in France, it is still well below the recognised level for high incidence.
Meanwhile, French news agencies report that prime minister Lionel Jospin will announce on Tuesday (14 November) a moratorium on the use of meat and bonemeal in all animal feed.
Previously it had been permitted in poultry and pig feed.
It is suggested the moratorium will last for three months before the French food agency is due to report on the issue.