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Food Safety

Health - Regulatory Committees - Standing Veterinary Committee 

Short report of the meeting (2000/30) held in Brussels on 15 November 2000

President: Mrs. Paola Testori-Coggi

All the Member States were represented.

1. Information of the Committee on the B.S.E. situation in the Member States

France explained the national measures which were adopted over the last few weeks:

(1) the extension of the list of specified risk material i.e. the removal and destruction of vertebrae, thymus, and bovine intestines. The French delegation deemed the measures to be justified considering the scientific opinion given by A.F.S.S.A. The measures also implied certain trade restrictions.

(2) the prohibition to use processed animal protein in feed to animals for human consumption and to domestic animals. France justified this measure by indicating the TSE/BSE had been found in ruminants born after the feed ban. Cross contamination could not be excluded.

In reaction to the measures taken by France, Austria had taken unilateral measures, banning trade in live bovine animals over 20 months and bovine semen, ova and embryos from France. Spain had taken unilateral measures banning trade in live bovine animals over 20 months of age and bovine ova and embryos from France and Ireland.

Several other Member States indicated that, in the absence of a position from the Commission, unilateral measures would also be considered. In particular Italy expressed its concern.

The Commission announced that the national measures taken by the Member States would be subject to scientific and legal examination.

2. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Decision concerning the B.S.E. situation in the Member States

The Commission presented a draft Decision aiming to establish rules for applying tests on bovine animals at slaughter as a direct public health protection measure with a view to prevent animals infected with BSE in the clinical phase or close to the clinical phase from entering the human food chain. It was proposed to introduce the testing of animals at slaughter in two phases:

1. as of 1 January 2001, testing of all bovine animals born before 1 January 1998 subject to special emergency slaughter or displaying clinical signs of disease at slaughter;

2. as of 1 July 2001, testing of all bovine animals born before 1 January 1998 slaughtered for human consumption.

The Commission made clear that the testing would not replace other risk reduction measures.

It appeared from the discussion that the Member States could support phase (1) of the testing programme. Most of the delegations, however, were reluctant to phase (2) and made clear that a random sampling plan would be preferable for reasons of absence of scientific evidence for the necessity of 100% testing; and of feasibility. The Commission emphasised the importance of phase (2) indicating that experiments had shown that the tests could detect infection in the pre-clinical phase.

Another point of discussion was to determine whether it was preferable to use the date of birth or the age of the animal as a parameter. The opinions were divided.

The Commission announced that it had requested that the point would be put on the agenda of the Agricultural Council.

3. Miscellaneous

Germany wanted to be updated on the replies of Member States in relation to the questionnaire concerning the extra labelling of British beef.

N.B. The proposals on which the Committee expressed an opinion are subject to a defined procedure in relation to the formal adoption by the Commission.

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