Central Europe warned over BSE

2 April 2001

Central Europe warned over BSE

By Philip Clarke, Europe Editor

CENTRAL and eastern European countries likely to have mad-cow disease have been told to tighten up the standard of meat exported to the European Union.

After the latest BSE risk assessment, Brussels scientists told the countries they would have to remove specified risk material from exported meat.

Specified risk material is the parts of animals such as spinal cord, brain tissue and spleen thought most likely to transmit BSE if eaten by humans.

These countries imported significant amounts of live cattle and meat and bonemeal from EU countries where BSE was confirmed, said the scientists.

Meat-and-bonemeal an animal feed made from animal remains blamed for spreading BSE was fed to livestock in central and eastern Europe until recently.

It is regarded as likely that their cattle were exposed to BSE contaminated feed and subsequently infected, said the scientists report.

The countries concerned are Albania, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Cyprus.

After the introduction of new EU import controls on Sunday (Apr 1), these countries will have to remove all specified risk material, before shipping meat.

So too will India, Pakistan, Columbia and Mauritius which are considered unlikely, but not excluded from having BSE.

None of these countries has ever reported a native case of BSE.

But Brussels has been determined to ensure equivalent protection from imported meat after imposing controls on all its 15 members last October.

According to the latest BSE risk assessment, only Brazil and Singapore have been put in the highly unlikely category.

They will not have to remove risk material before shipping meat to the EU.

The latest move follows a decision by European scientists who last month put 10 other countries in this group, including Australia, New Zealand and Argentina

Controversially, the US and Canada have been put in the category where BSE is thought unlikely, but not excluded. They too must removed risk material.

European Union officials deny they are being protectionist, describing their action as proportionate and non-discriminatory.

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