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From: TSS (
Subject: Monthly report of Specified Risk Material and other BSE Control breaches for August 2004 UK
Date: September 18, 2004 at 11:33 am PST

Monthly report of Specified Risk Material and other BSE Control
breaches for August 2004
Friday, 17 September 2004
The following report from the Food Standards Agency provides a monthly
update on specified risk material (SRM) finds in health marked carcasses
and related issues. These SRM reports are posted on the Agency’s website
normally during the second week of each month.

SRM breaches reported over the past month

An internal audit undertaken by the MHS has discovered a failure to
remove SRM from bovine carcases at a small, low throughput red meat
plant in Scotland.

The audit detected 14 health marked sides of beef (seven carcases)
containing thymus tissue (SRM) in the neck area.

On investigation a further four carcases were found to contain thymus,
one of which also contained approximately 10cm of spinal cord

The investigation also revealed that one carcasse had been sold by the
operator to a local butcher. It is possible that this carcase may also
have contained thymus tissue. However, there is no evidence to confirm

All the other carcasses, including the one containing spinal cord, had
the SRM removed under MHS supervision before being released into the
food chain.

The failures were discovered, on 11 August and during the subsequent MHS
investigation on 17 August.

The preliminary investigation report indicates that the breaches
followed the departure of an experienced slaughterman and his
replacement by a less experienced member of staff. The OVS failed to
notice the incomplete removal of SRM. There does not appear to have been
a systematic breakdown of procedures.

The risk to the public from the carcase that potentially contained
thymus that entered the food chain is very small. Bovine thymus is
designated as SRM on a precautionary basis, based on studies of scrapie
in sheep rather than on evidence of infectivity actually existing in
cattle thymus.

This is the second domestic breach of SRM controls in a health marked
carcase discovered in 2004.

Remedial Action

The MHS is currently implementing a number of recommendations arising
from the investigation designed to prevent a recurrence in either this
or other similar low throughput plants manned by only one MHS operative.

At the plant itself these include:

* ensuring that plant staff are adequately trained in SRM removal in
line with the operator’s responsibilities

* correcting some deficient operating procedures

* replacing the OVS

* and additional weekly visits by the Regional Veterinary Adviser
(RVA) and Senior Meat Hygiene Inspector (SMHI) to ensure there are
no further problems

Elsewhere, there are 71 other abattoirs with OVSs working alone,
carrying out all inspection and supervision work. All are being visited
by RVAs and SMHIs to ensure that instructions on SRM removal are being
properly applied. OVS contractors are also being reminded of their

Background on SRM issues

* SRM is those tissues of the animal most likely to contain BSE

* The Specified Risk Material (SRM) controls remove over 99% of BSE
infectivity that may be present in cattle

* Under European Union (EU) law, SRM must be removed as soon as
possible after slaughter, stained and disposed of safely

* In the UK thymus and spinal cord are designated as SRM in cattle
over 6 months of age at slaughter

* UK breaches of SRM controls


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