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From: TSS ()
Subject: NEW TSE REGULATIONS - DEFRA SEEKS VIEWS June 15, 2005 Time: 15:15
Date: June 15, 2005 at 7:33 am PST

Date: June 15, 2005 Time: 15:15

Views are being sought on proposed new legislation aimed at consolidating and updating existing transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) law.

An important area of change relates to feed controls. These controls are being updated in line with EU legislation and will help clarify the scope of some existing controls in domestic legislation.

The consultation document also seeks views on the rationalisation of appeals procedures.

It also seeks feedback on entitlement to compensation where TSE-susceptible animals are slaughtered following exposure to a TSE through a breach of the feed ban or where a BSE brain stem sample is untestable, for example because the sample has not been taken properly.

In both cases, the appeals procedure can be used where compensation is denied.

Defra is also proposing a new offence that will in future make it illegal for anyone to send cattle born before August 1996 to a slaughterhouse for slaughter for human consumption.

This proposal is intended to strengthen controls to ensure that, when the Over Thirty Month (OTM) rule is replaced by testing for cattle born after July 1996, any cattle born before August 1996 remain excluded from the food chain.

The timing of any changeover from the OTM rule to a testing system is dependent on the Food Standards Agency (FSA) advising ministers that the proposed testing regime is robust and on ministers accepting that advice.

The new offence is intended to deter anyone from sending cattle born before August 1996 to abattoirs slaughtering cattle for human consumption.

The maximum sentence for those found guilty could be an unlimited fine and up to two years in prison. It will continue to be an offence for abattoirs to sell meat from over-age cattle for human consumption.

Food and farming minister Ben Bradshaw, said: "We have worked closely with the Food Standards Agency to ensure that cattle born before August 1996 will remain outside the human food chain, in the event that the Government agrees to a change to the OTM rule later this year.

"This proposal will send a message that the Government is serious about preventing older cattle from reaching the food chain.

"The new offence would complement the age identification checks at the abattoir which are the responsibility of the abattoir operator. The Meat Hygiene Service will continue to check on the age of cattle being slaughtered for human consumption."


1. The consultation document is available at Comments on these proposals should be submitted by 6 September 2005.

2. 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.

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

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. The FSA has set up an Independent Advisory Group (IAG) to advise them on whether the testing regime proposed by Defra can be considered robust, including any additional steps that might need to be taken to ensure this. The IAG are expected to present their findings to the FSA Board in August or September.

9. The UK Government, the EU Commission and the European Food Safety Authority have agreed that cattle born before 1 August 1996 should be permanently excluded from the food chain. These cattle will be eligible for compensation under a new limited voluntary compensation scheme, part-funded by the EU, which will be implemented once the OTM Rule is replaced. Click on for more information.

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15-Jun-05, 15:15

Views are being sought on proposed new legislation aimed at consolidating and updating existing transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) law.


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