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Health and Consumer Protection

Press releases

Brussels, 24 November 2000

Statement of David Byrne on new BSE-cases in Germany and Spain

David Byrne, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, said today that, regrettably, he was not surprised by the reported discovery of BSE in Germany and Spain. The European Commission has for years warned of the probability of BSE being found in other Member States. In particular Germany and Spain had been identified as countries where there was a likelihood of BSE being discovered. He urged these Member States to ensure that the recently introduced EU-legislation to remove specific risk materials (SRM) was fully implemented. "You cannot take unnecessary risks with public health", he emphasised.

SRMs are tissues like brain, spinal cord and ileum where any BSE infectivity is harboured. Removing SRMs from the food and feed chain is the single most efficient measure to combat BSE and protect public health. Although SRMs have been removed from cattle in most Member States for many years now, it is only very recently that countries like Germany and Spain have agreed to do so. European Commission initiatives in this regard were blocked for nearly four years because of the opposition of those Member States who claimed to be BSE free. Mr Byrne stressed that if the German, Spanish and other countries believe that the controls on the feeding of MBM to cattle may not have been fully respected then "precautionary measures are urgently needed".

He said that he had not received enough answers to the questions on controls he put to Ministers last week. Since he had insufficient information from Ministries, Mr Byrne said he would be pressing for maximum control measures to protect consumers when the Agriculture Ministers meet at their special session on 4 December. "We may have to take significant EU-wide health protection measures to ensure that consumers are not put at risk."

Mr Byrne called on the Presidency to associate other Ministers, particularly Health Ministers, with the discussion on 4 December.

Released on 28/11/2000

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FOOD SAFETY | PUBLIC HEALTH | CONSUMER PROTECTION | DIRECTORATE GENERAL "HEALTH & CONSUMER PROTECTION"

 
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