Food Law News - EU - 2001

Commission Note (MEMO/00/117), 18 December 2000

Statement of Commissioner Byrne on new BSE-cases in Germany

It gives me no pleasure to say that I am not surprised by the discovery of BSE in Bavaria. Public authorities must take all the measures necessary to protect public health and to inform their citizens. Even if Germany has only recently realised the risk that BSE has posed they must ensure that all EU legislation is fully implemented. If this is done then the consumer can have confidence in the beef they eat. There must be no half measures in regards to public health and safety. I call upon them to take any necessary step to protect consumers. Denmark for example has after the discovery of its first BSE-case withdrawn from the market all products which were still produced with materials like cattle brain and spinal cord. These "risk materials" are the ones which carry most of the infectivity.

I also want to ensure that consumers are properly informed. Meat- and bone meal has been identified as the clear source of the BSE-infection. A ban of feeding to ruminants has been EU-wide in place since 1994. But we have serious doubts it was respected. That is why we have now a temporary total ban on meat-and bone meal in place from 1 January 2001 onwards. There is also the possibility that compound feed might have been contaminated with traces of meat-and bone meal in plants where there were no dedicated manufacturing lines. It is of no help for consumers to speculate now about other possible ways of transmission which are all not scientifically backed up. It is much more important to tell people the truth and to force industry and farmers to respect laws.

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