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Health and Consumer Protection

Press releases

Brussels, 27 November 2000

David Byrne on BSE-developments in Germany and Spain

David Byrne, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, said:

"Germany and Spain may have been too complacent about the risk of BSE. Despite scientific risk warning not enough seems to have been done to guard against BSE in those Member States." Mr Byrne called on the German and Spanish authorities to carry out a full assessment of the situation and to consult urgently with the European Commission and its scientific advisers on the appropriate responses. Particular attention needs to be given to the removal of specific risk materials from animal and human food as well as the correct pressure treatment of meat and bone meal. "The protection of public health and consumer confidence is of primary importance and all other considerations should take second place", he said.

Mr Byrne recalled that Germany and Spain were among those Member States who consistently opposed some key EU legislation to reduce the risk of BSE. Since 1997, the European Commission has been proposing to take out of the food and feed chain all parts of an animal which represent a high risk of carrying the BSE-agent (brain, spinal cord, eyes, parts of the intestines), but were consistently blocked. As recently as last June, Germany and Spain were not in favour of this legislation. Thanks to the support of other Member States this vital piece of legislation was adopted and came into effect on 1 October this year. "I cannot therefore accept the remarks today by some German politicians that Brussels is to be blamed for BSE in Germany. Instead of trying to put the blame for past events elsewhere, it is urgent to address today's problems. I would suggest that those politicians make sure that all the EU adopted measures to protect consumers against the risks of BSE were being fully implemented."

Background:

The following EU laws are the most important ones in place with an aim to reduce any risk to a minimum:

1. Since 1994: Prohibition of feeding cattle, sheep and goats with meat and bone meal made of cattle, sheep and goats and pigs.

2. Since 1997 high processing standards for the treatment of animal waste (133 degrees, 3 bars of pressure for twenty minutes) to reduce infectivity to a minimum.

3. Active surveillance at the point of entry of an animal in the slaughterhouse by a veterinarian for BSE-suspicion

4. Removal of specific risk materials (spinal cord, brain, eyes, tonsils, part of the intestines) most likely to carry the BSE-agent from food and feed since 1 October 2000

5. Introduction of post-mortem tests in two phases from 1 January and 1 July 2001 owards

6. From 1 March 2001 onwards only animals fit for human consumption will be allowed to be used for the production of animal meal.

Released on 28/11/2000

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

 
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