Food Law News - EU - 2002

FSA News Report, 4 October 2002

BSE - Agency's position on the possible risk of BSE in sheep

The European Scientific Steering Committee (SSC) considered at its meeting of 12-13 September 2002 the most recent data on BSE and sheep casings. It concluded that there is no new evidence justifying the possible inclusion of sheep casings in the list of specified risk materials.

Specified risk materials are the parts of an animal most likely to contain BSE infectivity if it were present.

The SSC has taken a view that additional measures should only be taken if BSE is found in sheep in the field.

The Food Standards Agency considers that it would then be too late for any new precautions because the public would by then have consumed any potentially infected material. We consider that, in the light of both the uncertainty and the estimates of potential risk, it is appropriate to recommend a precautionary European Union-wide ban on sheep intestine.

The SSC themselves acknowledge that estimates of infectivity in natural sheep casings after processing vary significantly. The Agency has recommended that the appropriate research scientists should consider these estimates at an EU level to see if a common understanding can be reached on this issue.

The Agency's position remains that action on this issue is only appropriate at EU level.

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