Food Law News - UK - 2002

FSA Press Release, 14 January 2002

BSE - BSE offspring cull must be tackled

The Food Standards Agency has been informed by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, DEFRA, that meat from the offspring of a cow with BSE has reached the human food chain. The Agency's advice to the public is that the risk to consumers from this incident is low.

The 29-month-old animal was slaughtered in an abattoir in Wales in November and put into the food chain and none of the meat is now left.

The Agency has been advised by DEFRA, who operate the cattle passport scheme, that the passport of this animal had not been seized. This was due to a backlog of visits to farms that had offspring of BSE cattle. The backlog had built up during the foot and mouth crisis when visits to farms were restricted.

The Agency, which monitors controls preventing BSE entering the food chain, has called for the offspring cull backlog to be cleared as a priority; for the passports of BSE offspring to be surrendered immediately; and for effective measures to prevent the issue of a replacement passport.

The Agency's advice to consumers continues to be that the risk from such an incident is low. There are very stringent measures in place to minimise the risk of BSE infected meat entering the food chain: only animals under 30 months are consumed in the UK, with a few exceptions, and the parts of an animal most likely to contain BSE infectivity are removed at the abattoir. In this case, the animal was slaughtered in line with these rules.

Debby Reynolds, FSA Veterinary Director, said:
"This is a regrettable incident. We want to see the cull of offspring of BSE animals backlog cleared as a priority; the passports of these animals surrendered immediately; and effective measures to prevent the issue of a replacement passport. The risk to the public is low, but these steps need to be taken. "

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