Food Law News - UK - 2001

FSA Scotland Press Release (56/01), 26 September 2001

BSE - BSE Detected in Former Beef Assurance Scheme Animal

The Foods Standards Agency has been notified by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) that a single case of BSE has been confirmed in central Scotland in a six-year-old cow that was born into a herd which was later accepted into the Beef Assurance Scheme (BAS). The animal has not entered the food chain and therefore it poses no threat to food safety, the Food Standards Agency Scotland said today.

The cow was born in April 1995 into a herd that became part of BAS in January 1997. It was sold to a non-BAS herd in November 1998. The Agency has requested full details of the cow's history and of its offspring and cattle that have been in the same herds. BAS allows meat from cattle up to 42 months to be sold for human consumption, rather than 30 months for all other cattle. The cattle are subject to stringent safeguards and regarded as having less risk of BSE than other cattle.

Dr George Paterson, Director of the Food Standards Agency Scotland, said:
" We have requested assurances that all BAS herds comply fully with the requirements of the scheme. We want to be satisfied that controls are working, as well as get answers as to what happened in this case."

The then Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) introduced BAS in September 1996. This is an exception to the Over Thirty Month Rule that prohibits the sale of meat for human consumption from cattle aged over 30 months at slaughter. Animals from BAS herds are subject to stringent safeguards that mean that they are accepted as carrying less risk of BSE than other cattle. As a result, meat from BAS cattle can be sold for human consumption if the animal from which it derived was 42 months old or less at the time of slaughter.

The stringent safeguards as regards BAS herds mean that they must:

The BAS is administered by DEFRA on behalf of the Agency. There are currently 66 BAS herds in Great Britain, of which seven are in Scotland. The total number of BAS cattle is 4000, out of a total UK herd of 5.3 million. Further information on its operation from the DEFRA press office.

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