FSA Press Release (2005/0600), 15 September 2005
Following today's announcement that the Government is to replace the Over Thirty Months (OTM) Rule with BSE testing, Ministers have also agreed a number of pre-conditions set by the Food Standards Agency to ensure continued consumer protection during implementation.
These include specially trained vets from the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) being required to visit every abattoir approved for testing during the first two days of operations with regular follow-ups, new laws making it illegal for farmers to send cattle born before August 1996 (see Footnote 1 below) to slaughter for food, and an independent audit of the BSE testing system reporting six months following the rule change.
In addition, the Agency is establishing a Review Group, to oversee implementation of BSE testing in the UK . This group, which will include representatives of all those involved in testing and independent consumer representation, will monitor and report publicly to the Agency Board on the testing scheme.
FSA Chair Deirdre Hutton said: 'We welcome the acceptance by Ministers of the Board's specific pre-conditions for the introduction of BSE testing. Through the whole of this process our aim has been to ensure that the new system is subject to rigorous, and transparent, scrutiny and that the testing system continues to protect public health.'
(1) Experts believe that BSE was spread among cattle in animal feed that contained other animal protein. The Feed Ban, which became fully effective in the UK from August 1996, prohibits the feeding of mammalian meat-and-bone meal to all farm animals and prevents animals from being exposed to BSE. A new law will ensure that all animals born before the reinforced Feed Ban, in August 1996, will continue to be excluded from the food chain. The Feed Ban will also continue to be enforced.