New BSE Testing Age Rules 'Common Sense'

US - News that the age of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) testing has been raised from 48 months to 72 months has been welcomed as a common sense move by the national Farmers' Union (NFU).
calendar icon 27 June 2011
clock icon 2 minute read
National Farmers Union

The new rules, which come into force on July 1 2011, have been implemented after EU ministers agreed that with just a handful of cases now across Europe the approach for BSE testing needed to be risk-based and led by up-to-date scientific evidence. The decision then moved to UK Government and Defra.

NFU livestock board chairman Alistair Mackintosh said: “Consumer safety is always of paramount importance to livestock producers, and in relation to BSE, and we have understood the need for strict controls in the past. However, the time is right to move to a more science-based level of protection. As producers we want to see regulations which are risk-based and that use up-to-date scientific evidence.

“The level of BSE cases continues to fall; now there are just a handful of cases across the EU. The Europe Food Standards Authority opinion also supports the view that increasing the testing age will not adversely affect human health.

“We have worked with the UK Food Standards Agency and Defra and I am pleased that both organisations have agreed to the new testing age.”

The change to BSE testing will come into effect from July 1 2011 and is based on the scientific opinion provided by European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in December 2010. Before any changes to the UK testing age for BSE can be made, the FSA and Defra must put the SCoFCAH proposals out to consultation and any recommendations to change the testing age must be signed off by relevant government ministers.

The current surveillance and age limits will remain in place for producers in Romania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland until there is better evidence of a decline in the number of BSE cases.

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