Brussels, 5 December 2000
evaluating five new tests
In a continuation of its work on
tests for BSE and other transmissable spongiform
encephalopathies (TSEs), the European Commission is
evaluating five new tests. The tests were identified
following a world-wide call for expressions of interest
which closed on 30 September. Commissioner David Byrne,
responsible for Health and Consumer Protection, said
"The introduction of testing for BSE in the EU has
already had rapid beneficial results for the consumer.
We now have improved knowledge of the incidence of BSE
and as a result additional measures have been taken.
Consumers and industry must be informed of the real
situation throughout the EU and the widespread
implementation of the testing programme is the best way
to achieve this." Commissioner Philippe Busquin,
responsible for Research, added: "I am glad to announce
that more tests are being evaluated in the Commission's
Research Centre since only reliable testing will lay
the scientific foundation on which we can base serious
and efficient political measures."
An earlier evaluation, carried out last
year, identified three tests which performed excellently
and which were subsequently approved for use in the EU.
Their use has led to the detection of higher incidences of
BSE in France and to the first BSE-cases in Germany and
Spain. The use of tests becomes mandatory on 1 January for
at risk animals and from 1 July for all cows aged over 30
months slaughtered in the EU.
The evaluation of the five new tests
will be similar to that conducted last year by the
Commission but will involve a smaller series of samples.
Particular emphasis has been placed on the ability of tests
to distinguish the various TSE diseases. A number of
candidate tests offer this possibility though this aspect
of the test development is at a very early stage. All of
the identified tests are suitable for post mortem diagnosis
The following research and development
teams produced the tests that have been accepted for
ID-Lelystad, the Netherlands.
Imperial College of Science Technology and Medicine,
The Institute of Neurodegenerative Diseases / University
of California, San Francisco (IND/UCSF) USA.
PerkinElmer Life Sciences. United Kingdom
Prionics AG, Switzerland. A western blot from this
Company has already been approved. This application refers
to an ELISA, a different test methodology.
An addition to the already approved CEA
test (commercialised as the Biorad test), which may permit
a distinction between BSE and scrapie, has also been
retained for examination. All of the above tests are
suitable for post mortem diagnosis only.
Field work and evaluation
The field work, which will be done in
stages, has already commenced and will continue until late
spring 2001. The evaluation of tests that might distinguish
between BSE and scrapie will take longer and be more
The evaluation is being carried out by
the Health and Consumer Protection Directorate General with
the Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements
(IRMM) in Geel (Belgium). This laboratory, which is part of
the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC), has
a world-wide reputation for the preparation of highly
specialised reference samples for many fields of
Evaluation of technical standards in EU laboratories
using rapid tests
The Commission is also preparing
reference standards and will perform a ring trial of all
laboratories in the EU using rapid tests. This is designed
to evaluate the technical performance of the various
laboratories that are carrying out surveillance tests in
line with EU legislation. The Institute of Reference
Materials and Measurement (IRMM) will carry out this trial
in late spring when the testing programme is underway in
all Member States.
Released on 6/12/2000
FOOD SAFETY |
DIRECTORATE GENERAL "HEALTH
& CONSUMER PROTECTION"