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From: TSS ()
Date: March 8, 2005 at 1:14 pm PST

-------- Original Message --------
Date: Tue, 8 Mar 2005 10:16:51 -0600
From: "Terry S. Singeltary Sr."
Reply-To: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy

##################### Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy #####################

Date: March 08, 2005 Time: 10:45


Defra is today launching a public consultation on proposed legislation
which will set out the legal requirements of a robust testing regime to
replace the Over Thirty Months (OTM) Rule. This week also sees the start
of trials in six GB abattoirs to ensure that the proposed testing regime
is robust.

Food and Farming Minister Larry Whitty said:

"Good progress is being made towards setting up a robust testing regime,
which will continue to help protect consumers from BSE risk

"We are working closely with the Food Standards Agency and the Meat
Hygiene Service to reinforce the relevant legislation and to trial the
testing system.

"I am grateful for the co-operation of those abattoirs taking part in
the trials. There is still a great deal to be done. Any change in the
OTM rule will not be before the second half of this year."

The proposed legislation would require that abattoirs intending to
slaughter cattle, aged over 30 months, for human consumption must have
in place a Required Method of Operation (RMOP) agreed with the Meat
Hygiene Service (MHS).

The timing of any changeover from the OTM rule to a testing system is
dependent on the FSA advising Ministers that it is satisfied that the
testing regime is robust and on Ministers agreeing that advice.

Defra is rolling out trials of the testing regime across Great Britain
and these will continue until early April. These trials are being
carried out in line with the recommendations of the Independent Advisory
Group set up by the FSA to advise on the robustness of the proposed
testing regime.
Individual trials will last up to 5 days in abattoirs. Both large and
small abattoirs are involved. In addition, vertebral column removal is
being trialled in a number of cutting plants.

In preparation for any change to the OTM rule and lifting of the EU ban
on beef exports, Defra last week began the necessary cull of cohort
cattle born after July 1996 that may have been exposed to the same feed
as confirmed BSE cases. (Cohort cattle are cattle born in the same herd
as, and within a year of, the birth of a BSE case or reared with a BSE
case in the first year of its life when they were aged less than a year

The OTM rule currently acts as a substitute for the cohort cull by
preventing beef from cattle aged over 30 months from entering the food
chain. Cohort cattle with BSE and born after July 1996 now need to be
culled. Cohorts of new BSE cases will be culled as they occur.

The Food Standards Agency is launching a parallel and linked
consultation on proposals to replace the legislation that established
the OTM rule.


1. On 1 December 2004, following further advice from the FSA, the
Government announced the start of a managed transition towards the
lifting of the OTM rule and its replacement with a system of robust
testing of cattle for BSE.

2. Any changes in the domestic OTM rule will not come into effect until
the second half of 2005. Changes in export restrictions are not expected
to come into effect until late 2005.

3. BSE was first identified in the UK in 1986. More than 183,000 cases
have been confirmed in the UK to date, of which more than 95% were
detected before 2000 (and over 99% were born before August 1996). The
epidemic peaked at an annual total of more than 37,000 clinical cases in
1992 and the number of new clinical cases is currently at the lowest
level since recording began. There were 90 clinical and 253 cases
detected through testing in 2004, the vast majority in cattle born
before August 1996.

4. The UK's reinforced feed controls, effective from 1 August 1996, have
led to a particularly sharp fall in BSE cases in cattle born on or after
that date.

5. In July 2004 the FSA advised Ministers that a move to replace the
over thirty months rule by BSE testing would be justified on the basis
of the food-borne risk to consumers and proportionality in relation to
the cost of maintaining the current rule. The Agency further advised
that, given the importance of the effective implementation of BSE
testing, Ministers should not change the OTM rule until an independent
group has advised that all the necessary arrangements for testing have
been put in place. Much uncertainty still surrounds the precise cause of
BSE and vCJD. However, the FSA risk assessment is based on pessimistic
assumptions and has been subject to rigorous independent peer review. It
is considered by the Government's scientific advisors on BSE (the Spongiform
Encephalopathy Advisory Committee) to be robust.

6. The main public health control measure against BSE entering the food
chain is the removal of Specified Risk Material (SRM) which is estimated
to remove over 99% of infectivity in cattle. The other key control is
the ban on feeding animal protein to all farmed livestock, which has led
to the reduction of over 99% in clinical BSE cases since 1992.

7. The FSA has set up an independent group to advise them on whether the
testing regime that will be proposed by Defra can be considered robust,
including any additional steps that might need to be taken to ensure this.

8. The terms of reference of the independent group are 'to make
recommendations to the Food Standards Agency on a robust regimen. In so
doing, to agree: (a) the components of a robust, reliable and effective
regimen for BSE testing of OTM cattle slaughtered for human consumption;
and (b) the approach to assessing the performance of the testing
regimen; to then review those recommendations in light of a trial of the
testing system, and to report to the Food Standards Agency'. When the
rule is replaced by BSE testing, the group is also asked 'to evaluate
reports of an audit of the testing system on the first 6 months
following implementation and make recommendations as to any corrective
action needed'. Members of the group are: Professor Patrick Wall
(Chairman); Sue Dibb; Peter Jinman; Professor Peter Lind; Barbara
Saunders; and Dr Geoff Spriegel.

9. The Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland
is running a similar trial in an abattoir in Northern Ireland.

10. Cattle born before 1 August 1996 will be permanently excluded from
the food chain. Defra is consulting industry and the EU Commission on
the shape and duration of a successor scheme to the current Over Thirty
Months Scheme.

11. The UK will need a further EU inspection of its BSE controls, a
specific proposal from the European Commission and the agreement of the
other EU member states before it can export beef from cattle born on or
after 1 August 1996 on the same basis as the rest of the EU. The UK will
also need confirmation from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)
that the UK herd is now moderate, rather than high risk. The UK sent the
Commission a further paper with updated figures on 8 February.

12. Defra have identified some 4,500 cattle that will need to be
slaughtered under the cohort cull. Cattle will be valued individually
and compensation will be paid.

13. Further information about the OTM rule review is available at: The
consultation is available at:

Public enquiries 08459 335577;
Press notices are available on our website
Defra's aim is sustainable development


Nobel House
17 Smith Square
London SW1P 3JR


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