David Byrne, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection said: "The Commission has consistently identified the removal of SRMs as the key public health protection measure in relation to BSE. Accordingly, the Commission insists on the removal of these materials even where the risk of BSE may be considered to be very remote. On the basis of the opinions of the Scientific Steering Committee, it is now entirely appropriate to require their removal in imports from third countries. However, the Commission accepts that this requirement should not apply to countries where the presence of BSE is considered by the SSC to be highly unlikely. I hope that this will serve to reassure the public that the Commission will continue to insist on a very high level of health protection based on sound scientific risk assessment".
Commission Decision 418/2000 requires the removal and destruction of SRMs from cattle, sheep and goats with effect from 1 October 2000. It also provides that with effect from 1 April 2001 that the following measures shall apply to imports from third countries:
The above requirements only apply to third countries which have not submitted a dossier on their epidemiological status with respect to BSE or in respect of which the risk assessment is unsatisfactory. In order to establish their risk status, Commission recommendation 98/477 invited third countries (and Member States) to submit a complete dossier on their epidemiological status with respect to TSEs. On the basis of these dossiers, the SSC has adopted opinions which place 10 countries (Australia, Argentina, Botswana, Chile, Namibia, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Uruguay, Swaziland) in category I ("BSE highly unlikely") of its geographical risk assessment.
The present proposal is intended to exempt third countries adjudged to fall within category I of the GBR from the requirements of Decision 418/2000. All other third countries will be required to comply with the decision. The application of the decision on third countries is postponed, however, from 1 April to 1 May to allow for the necessary adaptations in the countries concerned. This one month delay will also allow the Commission time to make any necessary follow-up proposals in the event that the SSC places any further third countries in category I of the GBR when it adopts opinions on a further range of third countries at its meeting on 29/30 March 2001