Food Law News - EU - 2001

Commission Press Release, 17 January 2001

BSE - Scientific Steering Committee publishes replies to safety questions

The Scientific Steering Committee (SSC) advising the European Commission on multidisciplinary matters including on issues related to BSE has today published an opinion with its replies to the questions raised at the EU Council of Agriculture Ministers of December 4. The questions concerned the safety of certain bovine tissues and animal by-products that might pose a BSE risk. The scientists conclude that some further restrictions on the use of bovine tissues could be necessary whenever the risk management measures in place do not ensure that the presence of BSE is highly unlikely. The European Commission welcomes the scientific advice and will draw its conclusions in the near future on the range of measures that have been addressed.

The scientists indicate that mechanically recovered meat that is scraped from bovine bones, is to be considered a risk material if obtained from skull and vertebral bones of animals more than 12 months old.

They also advise that fats derived from cattle tissues should be subject to pressure cooking to minimise potential BSE infectivity before being used in animal feed in addition to the purification process already in place which filter proteins. The scientists reconfirmed that hydrolysed proteins derived from bovine hides and other tissues that are not specified risk materials are safe provided the appropriate production and sourcing processes are used.

According to the SSC, cattle born before the effective implementation of the total meat and bone meal ban, or animals born while a total meat and bone meal ban is not properly implemented, are likely to pose a higher risk, which could justify further restrictions on the use of animal tissues. This could include the vertebral column of cattle above 12 months. It excludes cattle thymus and spleen. All depends on the assessment how likely it is that cattle are infected with BSE. This likelihood needs to be assessed in the light of the risk management measures in place. For example under the conditions of the UK Date-Based Export Scheme it is highly unlikely that an animal under 30 months that is incubating BSE would enter the food chain.

The full text of the opinion is available at :

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