Food Law News - EU - 1998

18 November 1998: BEEF - Commission submits second BSE follow-up report

Commission Press Release, 18 November 1998

Commission submits second BSE follow-up report

The number of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) cases in the European Union (EU) has further declined. In 1998 (January to October), it came down to 1 567 reported cases. Last year, 4 454 new cases had been reported, compared to 37 301 new cases at the peak of the BSE disease in 1992. However, more than a doubling of the registered cases in Portugal from 30 in 1997 to 66 new cases in 1998 give strong reasons for concern. This is one of the statements of the European Commission´s second BSE follow-up report to the European Parliament on the implementation of its work programme on BSE, which the Commission adopted today. It also highlights the efforts that were taken between May 98 and October 98 in order to combat BSE, to protect public health and to regain consumer confidence in food safety.

To date, 175 772 BSE cases were reported in the EU since the disease broke out, of which 99,7 % occurred in the United Kingdom (UK). "Although the numbers of BSE cases are declining especially in Great Britain, we have to remain vigilant and alert in our fight to combat BSE and our objective to protect consumers´ health" said Emma Bonino, Commissioner in charge of Consumer Policy and Health Protection. Franz Fischler, Commissioner of Agriculture and Rural Development, stressed that complete and effective implementation of all BSE-related legislation by Member States is crucial to eradicate BSE.

Last November, the Commission had committed itself in front of the Parliament to a work programme on BSE and promised bi-anual follow-up reports on its implementation. Since then, progress has been made in implementing EU legislation, which was adopted to prevent the spreading of BSE, in particular the feed ban and the standards for treatment of meat-and-bone meal. Concerns do, however, remain where Member States have been slow in implementing EU concerning the control of BSE. Despite all the Commission´s efforts, the Council has not agreed to a common approach to removing specified risk material from the food and feed chain. As a consequence, recommendations issued by the scientific committees have not been properly taken into consideration. In this area, risk prevention on an EU base remains inadequate, states the second follow-up report. Other important findings of the report are the following :

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