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From: TSS ()
Subject: FSA (TSE) NEWS No.48 June 2005
Date: June 9, 2005 at 1:26 pm PST

FSA (TSE) NEWS No.48 June 2005

Agency review to discuss contingency

options on BSE and sheep

The Agency is inviting consumers and

stakeholders to contribute to a review of

the approach it would take, should BSE

ever be found in the UK sheep flock.

In December 2004 the Agency’s Board

began a review of the options available to

it should BSE be discovered in UK sheep,

with the aim of ensuring that measures in

place to control BSE are based on the

latest science and are proportionate.

Consumers and stakeholders will be

able to contribute through written

submissions and, as FSA News went to

press, a workshop was due to take place

in London on 16 June 2005.

Further information

For additional details contact Carlos Orri,

tel: 020 7276 8329; email:


The Agency held an open Board meeting

on Thursday 12 May in London. The

meeting was attended by 95 people and a

further 907 watched it by live webcast.

Board meeting webcasts can also now be

viewed as video on demand on the

Agency website.

The meeting was chaired by the Agency’s

Acting Chair Julia Unwin. During the

meeting, the Board discussed two papers:

Implementation of the Agency’s Foodborne

Disease Strategy: update; and Review of

the Over Thirty Months (OTM) Rule:

progress report on transition towards a

robust BSE testing regime.


Board update May 2005

Agency open Board

meeting July 2005

Progress on transition towards a

robust BSE testing regime

This paper asked the Board to note and

agree the actions being taken to prepare

for the replacement of the Over Thirty

Months (OTM) Rule with a robust

system for BSE testing.

The OTM rule was introduced in 1996

as one of three main BSE controls aimed

at protecting public health. With limited

exceptions, the rule prohibits the sale for

human consumption of meat from cattle

aged over thirty months at the time of


In other EU Member States, meat from

OTM cattle is allowed into the food

supply subject to testing negative for BSE.

The principal BSE food safety measure –

the removal of specified risk material

(SRM) – is estimated to remove over 99%

of infectivity in cattle. The other main

control is the ban on mammalian meat

and bone meal being used in farm animal

feed (known as the feed ban).

Following a review of the OTM rule,

the Agency advised Ministers in July 2004

that replacing the OTM rule by BSE

testing for cattle born on or after 1

August 1996 is justified on grounds of the

foodborne risk to consumers and

proportionality, subject to the putting in

place of a robust testing system.

In an announcement on 1 December 2004,

the Government made clear that the switch

from the OTM rule to testing should happen

only when the FSA has advised Ministers

that the testing system is robust. To assist

with that process, the Board appointed a

group of outside experts, in order to

ensure that the advice it receives on the

robustness of testing is independent. At

the December 2004 meeting, the Board

considered and approved the independent

group’s initial report containing its

recommendations for a testing regimen

and agreed that the next stage should be a

full trial of the system to assess whether

or not it will be robust.

The independent group advising the

FSA on the robustness of the testing

system has reviewed the outcome of trials

of the system. The group concluded that

while the GB trials had provided an

excellent opportunity critically to assess

the proposed testing system, a further

round of trials should take place.

In addition, the EU Food and Veterinary

Office (FVO) will be carrying out a

mission to Great Britain, from 6-15 June

2005, to evaluate the implementation of

the EC BSE rules. This will concentrate on

BSE testing and surveillance, and the

identification and traceability of bovine

animals, as well as removal and disposal

of SRM and the feed ban. The mission

will include an examination of the

proposed system for OTM testing.

The Board:

commented on the results emerging

from the trials of the testing system;

noted that the process of preparing for

transition to BSE testing was moving in

the right direction;

noted that the Board would not be

invited to take a decision on the

robustness of the testing system until

reports from both the independent group

and the FVO were available;

recommended that rule change should

be implemented on the same date

throughout the UK;

noted the remedial action underway by

the Meat Hygiene Service to minimise the

risk of further OTM breaches;

noted that the Board wished to move

as quickly as possible to a situation where

implementation of the testing system

could be recommended;

noted that the MHS will at some stage

discuss the suitability of all aspects of its

structure for overseeing the testing system,

and that the FSA Board will wish to

discuss this issue once it has been

considered by the MHS.

In addition, Agency Acting Chair Julia

Unwin, Agency Chief Executive Jon Bell

and Meat Hygiene Service Board Chair

Chrissie Dunn gave reports updating the

FSA Board on developments since the

previous open meeting.



The Food Standards Agency’s next open

Board meeting will be held on 14 July

2005 at the Hilton Cardiff, Kingsway,

Cardiff CF10 3HH.

Further information

Anyone wishing to attend the Board

meeting should complete an online

registration form at:


For other queries about the open Board

meeting, please email:

tel: 01772 767730 or fax: 01772 767555.


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