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 Full text 
Post-briefing item

Mad cow disease: ten years later, vigilance the watchword

Environment - 22-05-2006 - 17:49
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Even though British beef is permitted on French plates again, a new regulation on transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) has been voted on in the first reading between the Council and the European Parliament.

Through the report of Dagmar ROTH-BEHRENDT (PES, DE), MEPs have strengthened both passive and active surveillance measures. They notably wished to specify the annual surveillance programmes more, to include all cattle older than 24 months to be sent for emergency slaughter and those aged more than 30 months to be slaughtered in normal conditions, to have stricter supervision of possible subsequent modifications (for example the listing of materials of specific risks, such as the brain, the spinal cord etc.) and to require detailed justifications of scientific committees responsible for these modifications.
The European regulation attunes to the International Office of Epizootics' decision, of 167 Member States, in May 2005 to reduce the categories of risks related to BSE from five to three: negligible risk, controlled risk and undetermined risk, being the highest level.
No meat but fish for young ruminants
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy broke out as meat-based flour was introduced into cattle's feeding, which today is forbidden. The new regulation upholds this ban: "It is necessary to uphold the ban on using animal proteins in ruminants feeding in ways that are not part of their natural food." At the end of the compromise the European Commission can decide to authorise the use of proteins derived from fish in young ruminants feeding.
Finally, when a case of BSE is discovered the whole herd is usually slaughtered. The MEPs believe that slaughtering of cohorts could be avoided under strict controls, by using animals that seem healthy until the end of their production life; no scientific proof has shown BSE to be transmitted by milk or to cattle's offspring.
This text defines the import and export regulations on the common market as well as with third countries. Member States or Member States' regions - likewise even third countries or third countries' regions - which pose an undetermined risk of BSE are not permitted to neither export food intended for animal breeding which contains mammal proteins nor food intended for consumption by mammals to the Community (amendment 49).
In return the MEPs believe that consumption of mechanically separated meat ("obtained by removing the meat from the bone in a way that the fibre structure of the muscles is destroyed or modified") by human beings should be re-examined.

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