Food Law News - UK - 2006

FSA News Item, 13 March 2006

BSE - FSA Board Meeting Lifting of Ban on British Beef and SEAC Sheep subgroup position statement on atypical scrapie

The Agency held an Open Board Meeting in Glasgow on Thursday 9 March 2006 . The following is an extract from the report:

Lifting of Ban on British Beef

The Chief Executive informed the Board that a meeting in Brussels on 8 March had agreed unanimously that a resumption of trade in British beef should be allowed across the European Community and beyond, subsequent to certain conditions being met.

These included: all animals born before August 1996 should continue to be kept out of the food chain, both in this country and for export; only products from animals slaughtered after 15 June 2005 should be eligible for export; and meat from bovine animals slaughtered before the formal lifting of the ban could only be traded with other Member States after the removal of vertebral column. It would take about six weeks for the European Parliament to be consulted and the necessary formalities to be completed before the ban could be lifted.

Board report: SEAC Sheep subgroup position statement on atypical scrapie

Cattle and sheep are known to suffer from a group of transmissable neurological diseases known as TSEs. One of the best known of these is BSE in cattle. It has previously been recognised by the Board that there is a possible risk of BSE in sheep because they ate the same feed that gave cattle BSE and it has been shown that sheep can be experimentally infected with BSE.

UK and other member states are required under EU law to undertake TSE surveillance testing of a portion of sheep slaughtered each year. All TSE positive samples are then also tested for BSE using the EU approved tests. In Great Britain a total of over 2,400 samples, collected between 1998 and 2005, have been tested to differentiate between BSE and scrapie with no findings of BSE.

This paper drew attention to a position statement by the SEAC Sheep Subgroup, which summarises the current knowledge on a recently recognised form of TSE disease in sheep known as atypical scrapie. The paper concludes that atypical scrapie could reliably be distinguished from the previously-known TSE in sheep, now termed classical scrapie, and from experimental BSE in sheep. In his introduction to the discussion, the Chief Executive informed the Board that the French and Cypriot Governments had recently announced some unusual results from three sheep that at this stage of testing did not appear to be atypical scrapie. More tests were now underway, but these could take up to two years to complete.

The issues being drawn to the Board's attention were:

The Board:

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