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From: TSS ()
Subject: FSA Board to consider its advice to ministers on BSE testing
Date: August 11, 2005 at 6:50 am PST

FSA Board to consider its advice to ministers on BSE testing

Thursday, 11 August 2005

Ref: R1169 - 38

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) Board is meeting on 15 August 2005 to consider its advice to Ministers on whether a reliable BSE testing system has been developed to replace the Over Thirty Months (OTM) rule (1). This follows the Government’s decision last December for this change to take place, once such a system was developed.

The discussion on this change to one of the BSE controls began in May 2002, as a result of the significant decline in BSE in the UK since the height of the epidemic in 1992 (2).
The main BSE control, the removal of Specified Risk Material (SRM) – which removes over 99% of any possible infectivity in cattle – will remain in place. The other main control, the ban on mammalian meat and bone meal being fed to farm animals, is also unchanged and all animals born before August 1996 will continue to be excluded from the food chain.

An Independent Advisory Group (IAG) (3) was set up by the FSA to oversee and advise on testing. The Group has reported that a reliable BSE testing system for OTM cattle has been successfully designed and trialled and would be able to operate across the UK to the highest standards if fully implemented, complied with and enforced.

In June the European Commission’s (EC) Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) conducted an inspection of BSE controls in England, Scotland and Wales (an earlier inspection of controls in Northern Ireland was judged to be satisfactory). Although the final report is not yet available, the Agency understands from discussions with the EC and liaison with FVO, that they are likely to conclude that a satisfactory system has been put in place to assess the effectiveness of the testing regime should the OTM rule be replaced.

The FSA Board will now consider the IAG report, along with the outcome of the FVO BSE controls inspection, and the series of public consultations held by the Agency, before deciding its advice to Ministers on the effectiveness of a BSE testing system.

To register and for further information please contact The Glasgows Group or telephone: 01772 767730.

Notes to Editors
(1) The Over Thirty Months (OTM) rule, introduced in 1996, prohibits the sale for human consumption in the UK of meat from cattle aged over thirty months at slaughter.
In January 2001, other European Union (EU) Member States introduced BSE testing in line with a new EU requirement that OTM cattle must have tested negative for BSE before being allowed into the human food chain. More than 40 million cattle have now been tested throughout the EU since 2001. In the UK, 600,000 cattle were tested for BSE in 2004 as part of the EU BSE surveillance programme.

(2) The BSE epidemic is in steep decline. Last year (2004) there were 82 clinical cases in Great Britain, compared with the peak of the epidemic in 1992 when there were 36,682 cases.

(3) The Independent Advisory Group (IAG) was appointed by the FSA in November 2004 to specify the requirements for a robust BSE testing system, oversee trials of the proposed system and report on whether it met the requirements specified.

The Independent Advisory Group members:
1. Professor Patrick Wall (Chairman) is both a medical doctor and a veterinarian. He is Professor of Food Safety in the Centre for Food Safety at University College, Dublin, and former Chief Executive of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. He is also a member of the management board of the European Food Safety Authority.
2. Barbara Saunders OBE BA is a consumer affairs expert/consultant.
3. Peter Jinman OBE BvetMed DIPArb MRCVS FCIArb is a past President of the British Veterinary Association and a current member of SEAC and RCVS.
4. Professor Peter Lind DSc is a member of the European Food Safety Authority Scientific Expert Working Group on TSE Testing.
5. Dr Geoff Spriegel works as a consultant for the food industry and formerly Technical Director of Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd.
6. Sue Dibb BSc is Senior Policy Officer at the National Consumer Council and a member of the FSA’s Consumer Committee.

Board meeting agenda: 15 August 2005
Agenda and papers

OTM Rule Review
Further information

Room 245 Aviation House,
125 Kingsway,
London WC2B 6NH

Telephone: 020 7276 8888
Out of hours duty pager: 07626 414243
Fax: 020 7276 8833

Board meeting agenda: 15 August 2005
Wednesday, 10 August 2005

Congress Centre, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3LS

Chair’s Introduction and Apologies for Absence 11:00 – 11:05
Items 1 and 4 for discussion
Item 1 Minutes of the Food Standards Agency Board Meeting, 14 July 2005, Hilton Hotel, Kingsway, Cardiff CF10 3HH 11:05 – 11:15
Paper FSA 05/08/01, Paper FSA 05/08/01 (Summary of Actions Arising)
Item 2 Chair’s Report (Dame Deirdre Hutton) 11:15 – 11:20
Item 3 Chief Executive’s Report (Jon Bell 11:20 – 11.25
Item 4 Review of the Over Thirty Months (OTM) Rule: Establishment of an Effective BSE Testing Regime 11:25 – 12:25
Paper FSA 05/08/02, Annexe A, Annexe B, Annexe C, Annexe D
Any Other Business 12:25 – 12:30
Close of Meeting 12:30
Q&A Session 12:30 – 13:00

Papers Provided under Standing Orders
Future Board Agendas, Discussions and Briefing Sessions
SO 05/08/01
Schedule of Board Meetings for 2005
SO 05/08/02
Record of Attendance at Board Meetings in 2005
SO 05/08/03
Summary of Board Members’ Engagements
SO 05/08/04
Register of Board Members’ Interests
SO 05/08/05
Abbreviations and Acronyms
SO 05/08/06

Over Thirty Months Rule review

The Over Thirty Months (OTM) Rule is the BSE control set up in 1996 that automatically bans older cattle from entering the human food chain. It is one of the two main food safety controls in relation to BSE we operate in the UK – the other being Specified Risk Material (SRM) controls.

On 1 December 2004 Ministers announced the start of a managed transition towards the lifting of the OTM Rule following advice from the Food Standards Agency that the current control measures are no longer proportionate to the risk.
The primary BSE control, the removal of Specified Risk Material (SRM), which removes more than 99% of any infectivity that may be present, will remain in place.

About the OTM Rule Review
The Agency had reviewed the Rule to see whether a ban on sale for consumption of OTM meat was still appropriate in the light of the decline in the BSE epidemic.
It was assisted in the review by two committees:- a joint SEAC/FSA risk assessment group and a core stakeholder group representing a range of stakeholders including the farming and meat industries and consumers.

Following consideration of the review, the Agency's Board at its meeting on 10 July 2003 agreed to recommend to Ministers that it would be acceptable on public health grounds to replace, in two stages, the OTM Rule with BSE testing of cattle older than 30 months.

Government to change BSE controls
Read the full press release issued by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs on 1 December 2004


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