Food Law News - EU - 2001

Commission Press Release (IP/01/707), 16 May 2001

BSE - Scientists publish risk assessments for Costa Rica, Kenya, Slovenia and Romania

The Scientific Steering Committee (SSC) advising the European Commission on BSE related issues has today published its opinion on the Geographical Risk of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (GBR) in Costa Rica, Kenya, Slovenia and Romania. The evaluation of the geographical risk of presence of BSE focuses on the risk for animals to incubate the disease. The Committee concludes that is highly unlikely that cattle infected with the BSE agent are present in domestic herds of Costa Rica (GBR level I). They found that this is unlikely but not excluded in the herds of Kenya and Slovenia (GBR level II) and that it is likely that BSE is present in the cattle herds of Romania (GBR level III) although this is not yet confirmed. Slovenia is the first accession country that is classified as GBR level II. All other accession countries evaluated so far have been classified at level III of Geographical BSE Risk. Similarly, all EU Member States are classified at level III except for Sweden, Finland and Austria (level II).

The Committee found that Slovenia has since 1992 imported 2.400 live cattle notably from Germany, and imported small amounts of MBM. The Slovenian authorities have been able to trace most of these cattle imports and to demonstrate that many of them are still alive. They also showed that reasonably effective controls on the rendering of MBM were in place at least as of 1996, and probably also before that date. In addition, a first feed ban to ruminants was introduced in 1996. It is therefore regarded unlikely but not excluded that the BSE agent could have been recycled, but not amplified, in Slovenia between 1992 and January 2001, when a complete feed ban was put in place. Romania has imported higher numbers of live cattle (about 22,000 tons) and meat-and-bone-meal (about 10,000 tons) from EU countries where the presence of BSE has since been confirmed. Although risk management measures were taken as of 1996, their effective enforcement has not been demonstrated. Therefore it is regarded likely that Romanian cattle herds were exposed to potentially BSE contaminated feed and subsequently infected.

Kenya has received meat and bone meal exports notably between 1987-1990 from the UK and since 1994 from Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands. The data made available to the SSC do not exclude that some of this MBM has reached domestic cattle. The conclusion of the assessment for Costa Rica is based on data demonstrating that BSE infectivity is highly unlikely to have reached the country and hence the domestic cattle population. Only minor quantities of potentially infected live cattle (35 from Spain) or potentially contaminated meat-and-bone meal (5 tonnes) were imported into the country.

The SSC recommends that BSE related aspects are included in the programme of future inspection missions of the Food and Veterinary Office, as far as feasible, to obtain confirmation of the information received from the national authorities in the countries concerned. For the time being, the scientists underline, their assessment has to be based on the information provided by the assessed countries. As far as possible all data have been evaluated and verified in close co-operation with the countries concerned, and checked against other sources in an open and transparent manner. Data on imports provided by the countries under evaluation have for example been compared with export data as recorded by EUROSTAT, the EU Statistical Office, and with export data provided by the UK authorities.

The evaluation of the GBR in these third countries was made on the basis of the same method and assessment process as described by the SSC in its July 2000 opinion on the GBR. In the July-opinion the scientists already assessed the GBR risk in all EU Member States except Greece, and a first series of third countries((2)). An assessment for Uruguay was published in January; assessments for Botswana, Lithuania, Namibia, Nicaragua, and Swaziland in February, and for Albania, Brazil, Colombia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, India, Mauritius, Pakistan, Poland, Singapore and Slovakia in April this year.

The full text of the opinions is available at:

Updated Overview of third countries according to Geographical BSE risk classification

Category I: Highly unlikely to present a BSE risk

Category II: Unlikely, but a BSE risk cannot be excluded Category III: likely to present a BSE risk, even if not confirmed, or presenting a low level of confirmed BSE risk Category IV: BSE risk confirmed at a high level

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