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From: TSS ()
Subject: New warning on mutton as brain disease hits sheep
Date: June 13, 2006 at 4:09 pm PST

The Times June 14, 2006


New warning on mutton as brain disease hits sheep
By Valerie Elliott

Food experts say that BSE-style illness might affect humans, our correspondent reports


MEAT-EATERS have been told that avoiding mutton, goat and some sausages is the only way to reduce the risks from a new animal brain disease.
Britain’s food watchdog admitted yesterday that it could not rule out a risk to human health from the brain disease atypical scrapie, which is similar to BSE.



The advice from the Food Standards Agency raises the most serious concern about the safety of the meat since the discovery of “mad cow” disease in cattle. The new disease is similar to classic scrapie, a brain-wasting disease that has been known in sheep for more than 100 years, but which has never posed health concerns in human beings.

Mutton accounts for a quarter of sheep meat sold in Britain and is commonly used in many meat pies, pasties, curries and some ready meals. The risk from sausages comes from haggis and some upmarket brands that use casings made from sheep’s intestines.

The agency said that it was updating guidance to shoppers because it did not know whether atypical scrapie could affect health.

While it is not advising people to stop eating sheep or goat meat, or their dairy products, it makes clear that consumers can reduce the risk of a new disease.

However, shoppers will find it difficult to identify mutton products because there is no requirement to label it, except for pre-packed sausages. There is also no legal definition of what comprises mutton.

The agency is to ask the European Commission for the urgent introduction of new labelling rules that would mean manufacturers would have to identify products containing mutton.

Proposed new advice, to be discussed by the Food Standards Agency tomorrow, says: “While the agency is not advising anyone to stop eating sheep or goat meat or products, any possible risk could be reduced further by not eating meat from older animals.”

It adds: “In addition, some sausages are contained in natural sheep casings made from sheep intestines which are more likely to carry the disease agent and therefore could present a greater risk.”

Atypical scrapie is now identified in the national flock — there could be as many as 82,000 cases — and it has been found in sheep throughout Europe.

The move threatens to derail a new offensive from the Prince of Wales to bring about a renaissance in mutton eating. Peter Morris, chief executive of the National Sheep Association, said last night that the agency advice would trigger a new food scare.

“It runs the risk of people not eating mutton and sends out negative messages about mutton, when there is no proven risk.

“The Prince of Wales is such a keen supporter for the revival in mutton I am sure he will be among the first to put out the message that people should keep potential risks in proportion and keep eating mutton.”

Peter Ainsworth, the Conservative rural affairs spokesman, said: “We need to be cautious about any threat to human health. But there is a real danger that a message of this kind will create serious difficulties for sheep farmers at a time when they least need further problems from government agencies “It’s incredibly important that the FSA behaves in a measured and appropriate manner.”

The 8,000 tonnes of British mutton eaten each year in Britain is worth about £400 million a year.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2224875,00.html


FSA 06/06/03 AGENDA 3.1, 15 JUNE 2006

ATYPICAL SCRAPIE IN SMALL RUMINANTS: CONSIDERATION OF THE

CURRENT PRECAUTIONARY RISK MANAGEMENT MEASURES

Executive Summary

1. This paper provides information on atypical scrapie (a transmissible spongiform

encephalopathy (TSE)) in sheep and goats and the precautionary measures

currently in place to protect consumers from the possible risks from TSEs in

these species. There are a great many unknowns about atypical scrapie,

including the potential implications, if any, for human health.

2. It also reports on the views of stakeholders and consumer focus groups who

were asked whether, in the light of this uncertainty, additional precautionary

measures were needed and for their views on the Agency’s advice on this

subject.

3. The Board is asked to:

• note that the Agency’s advice has been reworded to take account of the views

of stakeholders and the consumer focus groups and will be tested further

• note that the background information on sheep TSEs on the Agency’s website

will be reviewed

• note that the agricultural departments are planning to review the Ram

Genotyping Scheme

• note that surveillance for atypical scrapie will be maintained in order to detect

any changes in prevalence.

• agree that the Agency’s advice and recommendations on precautionary

measures should be kept under review and be brought back to the Board if

there are significant changes in the understanding of the risk.

• agree that developments on atypical scrapie be kept under review to enable

contingency policy to be refined as new information emerges.

• agree that the Agency should open discussions with the European

Commission on the issue of the identification of meat from older sheep or

goats and natural sausage casings made from sheep intestines to enable

consumer choice.

2

TSE DIVISION

Contacts:

Alison Gleadle Tel: 020 7276 8303

Email: alison.gleadle@foodstandards.gsi.gov.uk

Irene Hill Tel: 020 7276 8324

Email: irene.hill@foodstandards.gsi.gov.uk

3

FSA 06/06/03 AGENDA ITEM 3.1, 15 JUNE 2006

ATYPICAL SCRAPIE IN SHEEP AND GOATS: CONSIDERATION OF THE

CURRENT PRECAUTIONARY RISK MANAGEMENT MEASURES

Issue

1. To consider whether the Agency should recommend, on the basis of current

evidence, that additional precautionary measures are needed to reduce the

possible risk to consumers from atypical scrapie.......

snip...

Conclusions

27. Atypical scrapie is definitely present in the UK flock, and in the flocks of other

Member States (MS), and animals with atypical scrapie have, and will be,

entering the food supply. However it is not known if this constitutes any risk to

human health. Unlike the situation when BSE was first discovered in cattle,

precautionary measures are already in place. Based on the limited knowledge of

the distribution of infectivity in atypical scrapie, the SEAC Subgroup concluded

that the SRM requirements that were put in place on a precautionary basis for

BSE in sheep may provide at least a similar level of protection against the

possible risk from atypical scrapie.

28. The consideration of the proportionality of any additional precautionary measures

is very difficult when the human health risk is unknown, and, as reported by

SEAC, there is insufficient data to carry out a risk assessment.

29. Any additional precautionary measures that could be put in place have a high

economic cost, are currently highly impractical (see Annex 1 for details) and

would impose a cost on industry that would, according to industry stakeholders,

be likely to bring into question the economic viability of sheep farming. ...

snip...

full text ;

http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/fsa060603.pdf

FSA 06/06/04 AGENDA ITEM 3.2, 15 JUNE 2006

BSE AND SHEEP CONTINGENCY POLICY

Executive Summary

1. This paper asks the Board to agree, for purposes of contingency planning, a

possible approach to a graduated strengthening of measures to protect

consumers in response to one or more findings of BSE in the current UK sheep

flock.

2. The paper also notes the high level of uncertainty around estimates of the

possible risk from BSE in sheep and that, if BSE were ever found in a UK sheep,

the estimate of the risk to consumers would depend on the accumulated results

of surveillance for BSE in sheep up to that time. It therefore recommends that the

policy be kept under review and that any policy agreed now on a contingency

basis should urgently be reconfirmed taking into account the circumstances at the

time of any finding of BSE in a UK sheep.

3. The Board is invited to:

• note that, in the event of confirmation of BSE in a sheep, targeted testing of

animals in the affected flock or flocks would be carried out to assist in

determining the potential spread of the disease and whether it may have

entered the food supply (paragraph 9).

• agree that an expert group be set up to advise on what additional surveillance

should be put in place, if BSE were to be found in a UK sheep, to improve

estimates of prevalence of BSE in UK sheep (paragraph 13).

• agree that, on current knowledge, it would advise the following graduated

response to one or more findings of BSE in the current UK sheep flock:

• one finding of BSE in sheep - remove additional SRM;

• two findings of BSE in unrelated flocks - exclude sheep aged over 12

months from the food supply and remove the additional SRM from the

remaining sheep;

• three findings of BSE in unrelated flocks - allow into the food supply only

sheep that were either genetically resistant to BSE or semi-resistant and

aged under 12 months and remove the additional SRM from those sheep

(paragraph 20).

2

• agree that its contingency policy for a finding of BSE in sheep should be kept

under review and be urgently reconfirmed should BSE actually be found in a

UK sheep (paragraph 22).

• comment on the outline handling plan at Annex F and the strategy for the

external communication that would be needed (paragraph 30).

TSE Division

Contacts:

Alison Gleadle Tel: 020 7276 8303 (GTN 7276 8303)

Email: alison.gleadle@foodstandards.gsi.gov.uk

David Carruthers Tel: 020 7276 8305 (GTN 7276 8305)

Email: david.carruthers@foodstandards.gsi.gov.uk

snip...

http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/fsa060604.pdf

Subject: SCRAPIE USA UPDATE AS of March 31, 2006 2 NEW CASES IN GOAT, 82
INFECTED SOURCE FLOCKS, 19 INFECTED RSSS

Date: April 30, 2006 at 4:49 pm PST
SCRAPIE USA UPDATE AS of March 31, 2006


2 NEW CASES IN GOAT, 82 INFECTED SOURCE FLOCKS, WITH 4 NEW INFECTED SOURCE
FLOCKS IN MARCH, WITH 19 SCRAPIE INFECTED RSSS REPORTED BY NVSL


http://www.aphis.usda.gov/vs/nahps/scrapie/monthly_report/monthly-report.html


TSS





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