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No evidence for BSE transmission through milk

The Scientific Steering Committee (SSC) sees no evidence for transmission of BSE through milk. Hence, there is no reason for restriction on the use of milk, stated the 16 independent scientists in an opinion on possible vertical transmission of BSE (from mother to calf) on Friday. The higher infection rate of calves from BSE-infected cows of between 5 and 15% is rather to be found in other routes of contagion. The definite mechanisms for vertical transmission still need to be clarified, they said. With respect to these mechanisms, the SSC considers that transmission of BSE by artificial insemination is unlikely for semen derived from BSE-affected bulls early in their incubation period and that transmission of BSE via embryos is unlikely provided International Embryo Transfer Society protocols are used.

However, the experts stated that - as a precautionary measure - milk from BSE-affected cows should be taken out, although this milk is not proven to be infectuous. The safety of milk is permanently monitored by the SSC. The Committee also put a preliminary opinion on the recycling of fallen stock, dead animals (including also ruminants, pigs, poultry, fish, wild/zoo/exotic animals, laboratory animals, fish, fur animals and cats) and condemned materials, i.e. animals not fit for human consumption onto internet for comments of interested parties. With respect to the high risks of TSEs and unconventional, not yet identified infectious agents, the present industrial processes of inactivating conventional infectious agents could not be considered safe enough. The scientists recommend that animals and SRMs with TSE or suspected of being so, should be incinerated or burned after rendering and not be recycled for any direct or indirect use, including use in cosmetics, pharmaceutical or medical products and devises. The opinion and the preliminary opinion will shortly be available under the following address :

http://ec.europa.eu/food/fs/sc/ssc/outcome_en.html

Released on 17/05/99

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