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Food Safety

- Regulatory Committees - Standing Veterinary Committee

Short report of the meeting (2001/08) held in Brussels on 06-07 March 2001

President: Mr. Bernard Van Goethem

All the Member States were represented.

1. Exchange of views of the Committee on the evolution of animal diseases in the Community including:

Foot-and-mouth disease

United Kingdom

The UK delegation distributed and presented a detailed report on the situation and on the measures taken. At time of reporting, the total number of confirmed outbreaks stood at 75 in Great Britain. A single outbreak of FMD was also confirmed in South Armagh in Northern Ireland on 1 st March (a separate report was distributed). The majority of the outbreaks have involved sheep destined for slaughter, though disease has been diagnosed in cattle and pigs. In addition to holdings on which disease has been confirmed, animals on 47 holdings considered to be at risk from FMD through contacts with an infected holding, have also been killed.

Several other Member States also provided information on various suspicions of FMD, serological results of samples taken and action taken related to direct imports from the UK and their contacts. Belgium, Ireland and France distributed a written report.

The Standing Veterinary Committee made the following statement on 06.03.2001:

"The Standing Veterinary Committee has today examined the situation in relation to the outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in UK, as well as the situation in other MS.

The MS acknowledge the close collaboration with which the MS and the Commission veterinary services have worked during this crisis. In this context they especially appreciate the coordination done by the Commission services working in close cooperation with all MS veterinary services.

The MS acknowledge the fact that the measures taken until now by the Commission and the MS avoided the spread of the disease to MS other than the UK, and in particular:

- the ban on the dispatch of animals and non-treated products from the UK established by the Commission on 21/02/2001 (Commission Decision 2001/145/EC) less than 24 hours after the confirmation of the first outbreak in the UK (applicable until 1/3/2001),

- the prolongation of those measures by the Commission on 1/3/2001 (after advice from the Standing Veterinary Committee) until 9/3/2001 as well as the emergency killing of sheep and goats imported from the UK between 1/2/2001 and 21/2/2001, and the isolation of other susceptible species (Commission Decision 2001/172/EC).

The Standing Veterinary Committee received a very detailed report on the situation on FMD in the UK in particular on the clear epidemiology of the disease, and strongly appreciate the measures put in place by the UK-MAFF to eradicate FMD. The Committee also received additional detailed information on various suspicions of FMD in other MS and action taken which occurred during the last few days about which they had already been continuously informed through the Commission. All MS should be congratulated on the fast and efficient measures which have been taken to react to suspicions of FMD.

The Standing Veterinary Committee today gave favourable advice on further precautionary measures aimed at:

- prolongation of the measures for the UK until 27 March

- an EU-wide ban of markets and assembly points for all susceptible species for a period of two weeks

- standstill of all susceptible species except for direct slaughter and direct from farm to farm subject to authorisation by the competent authorities for a period of two weeks

- disinfection of the tyres of vehicles from the UK to other MS.

Furthermore the option of vaccination was discussed and in view of:

- the limited excretion of virus by infected sheep and consequently the very limited wind borne spread of the disease at this stage,

- that in the UK, the outbreaks have occurred mainly in fattening sheep for slaughter which have been infected before the standstill (established on 23/2/2001) and notably through their movement through markets or dealer premises

- the actual epidemiological situation in the UK,

- that there is a good probability to confine the virus to contact animals which are primarily sheep by continuing the stamping out policy in force,

- the traceability which has been carried out by the UK authorities,

- that no circulation of the virus has been detected in other MS,

the MS and the Commission consider that recourse to vaccination would not be the appropriate response at this stage.

The Committee also considered the huge financial consequence of general vaccination in particular for the farming community, and the trade implications.

The Committee will meet again, probably on 21/3/2001."

Newcastle disease in Sweden

Postponed.

Infectious haematopoietic necrosis in Italy

Postponed.

2. Information on the classical swine fever situation in the wild boar in Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and Austria.

Postponed. (Belgium distributed a written report)

3. African swine fever Portugal - Results of investigations on ticks and suspicion of ASF in a zoo.

The Portuguese delegation distributed a report on the suspicion of ASF in a zoo. The item on results of investigations on ticks was postponed.

4. «Wasting cattle» in the Netherlands - update on the situation

The Commission distributed the English version of two documents issued by the Institute for Animal Science and Health (ID-Lelystad, Netherlands), which had been presented by the Dutch delegation in the Committee meeting in December 2000:

  • "The problem of wasting cattle - Review of the current knowledge and areas of uncertainty"
  • "Farms audit: wasting cattle - A case-control study to investigate the conditions on and management of farms with wasted cattle in 1998"

The Dutch delegation summarised the background to the investigations carried out so far. Since the beginning of 1999, animal health problems have been arising in the cattle industry. Occurring primarily on dairy farms, the problems related mainly to cows that lost weight rapidly and produced less milk than expected after calving, accompanied by an overall, irreversible physical deterioration and the onset of infections with a whole range of symptoms. There is no clear picture of the phenomenon. A link between vaccination with IBR marker vaccine and any measurable effect on production or animal health in cattle could not be established.

The most recent epidemiological investigation carried out in the last and most serious "wasting cattle" farm is now being finalized. In accordance with these investigations an infectious origin of the problem in this farm has been ruled out. The results suggest that a serious management problem occurred in the farm.

The Commission requested the Netherlands to forward a written report on these further investigations to the Commission as soon as available. The Commission recalled that the Scientific Committee is also reviewing this matter.

5. Exchange of views with the Member States on a document from Australia on import of pork (Doc. Sanco/1022/2001)

The Commission distributed the draft comments of the Health and Consumer Protection Directorate General on the Australian document "Generic Import Risk Analysis for uncooked pig meat". This document provides for information on the potential risk of disease transmission via feeding of pigs with infected pork.

The Member States were requested to comment.

6. Information on the interpretation of the Council directive 1999/74/EC of 19 July 1999 laying down minimum standards for the protection of laying hens concerning alternative systems (doc. Sanco/1063/2001)

The Commission explained that its attention had been drawn by a NGO to a number of aspects of the above Directive which Member States are apparently interpreting differently in transposing the Directive. The Commission distributed a document aiming to clarify its position on a number of issues. The Member States were requested to comment on the paper distributed.

7. Information from the Member States and exchange of views of the Committee on the progress of eradication and monitoring programmes, in particular with regard to on the evolution of incidence and prevalence of the disease in the different regions of the Member State concerned and with regard to the implementation of the measures foreseen in the programme:

Tuberculosis : Spain - Greece - Italy - Ireland - United Kingdom

Postponed.

8. Information in relation to the animal health situation in South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe

There was no evolution of the situation since the last SVC.

9. At the request of the Belgian veterinary services, exchange of views on Commission Decision 2000/666/EC laying down the health requirements and veterinary certification for the import of birds other than poultry and the conditions for quarantine.

The Commission explained that Belgium had requested to prolong the date of implementation of Decision 2000/666/EC due to some technical and structural difficulties. Certain Member States expressed their disappointment about the intended postponement of the implementation.

10. Information on a mission carried out in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 6 to 10 November 2000 concerning evaluation of the veterinary services, general animal health situation, fresh meat and meat products - Presentation of the mission report (Doc. Sanco/1221/2000)

The Commission presented the mission report and reported on the main findings. The objective of the mission was to evaluate the veterinary services, the general animal health situation and the production standards for fresh meat and meat products.

The Commission presented the conclusions and formulated a number of recommendations.

11. Information on a mission carried out in Hungary on import control - Presentation of the mission report (Doc. Sanco/1241/2000)

The Commission presented the mission report and reported on the main findings. The objective of the mission was

  • to evaluate the operation of the veterinary services at all levels, with particular regard to the certification of exports of livestock from Hungary to the EU, and
  • to assess the identification, registration and internal movement controls over livestock,

as a follow-up to the findings of the previous mission.

The Commission presented the conclusions and formulated a number of recommendations.

Based on the conclusions of the report, the Member States were requested to carefully check the Hungarian certificates.

12. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Decision on the evolution of animal diseases in the Community and in third countries.

No items were raised.

13. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Decision amending Decision 2001/172/EC concerning certain protective measures in relation to foot-and-mouth disease in the United Kingdom (Doc. Sanco/1043/2001-rev.3)

The Commission explained that the foot-and-mouth disease situation in the UK required the prolongation of the measures introduced by Decision 2001/172/EC to restrict the dispatch of live susceptible animals and untreated products derived from such animals. In particular, the SVC was requested to give an opinion on further precautionary measures aimed at:

  • prolongation of the measures for the UK for another 2 weeks;
  • an EU-wide ban of markets and assembly points for all susceptible species for a period of two weeks;
  • standstill of all susceptible species except for direct slaughter and direct from farm to farm subject to authorisation by the competent authorities for a period of two weeks;
  • disinfection of the tyres of vehicles from the UK to other Member States.

The Decision would apply until 27 March 2001 and would be reviewed before that date.

Vote: 74 votes in favour; 13 abstentions.

Sweden, supported by Finland, deemed the Decision too far reaching for those Member States which did not import infected animals.

14. Possibly, exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Decision on the total amount of Community aid for the eradication of classical swine fever in the Netherlands in 1998 (Doc. Sanco/563/2001)

The draft Decision intended to ensure a financial support to the Netherlands for the expenditure related to the classical swine fever outbreaks of 1998.

The Netherlands made clear that they could not support the proposal considering that the 1997 amount, laid down in Decision 2000/362/EC, was being contested before the Court of Justice and requested the Commission to wait until these matters were concluded. Several other Member States supported the Dutch position.

The vote was postponed.

15. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Decision amending the Annexes to Directives 64/432/EC, 90/426/EC, 91/68/EC and 92/65/EC to take into account the requirements of directive 91/628/EC in order to ensure the protection of animals during transport (Doc. Sanco/4012/2000 - rev.3)

The draft Decision is based on a report adopted by the Commission, on the experience acquired by Member States since the implementation of Council Directive 95/29/EC. That report considers that animal health certificates used for intra-Community trade should be supplemented in order to draw the attention of veterinarians in charge of the certifications to their responsibilities concerning the protection of animals during transport. The proposal sets out the certification, which shall be incorporated in certain intra-Community health certificates.

The Commission explained the amendments made since the last SVC.

Vote: unanimous vote in favour.

16. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Decision amending Commission Decision 93/52/EEC recording the compliance by certain Member States of regions with the requirements relating to brucellosis (b. Melitensis) and according them the status of a Member State or region officially free of the disease (Doc. Sanco/369/2001-Rev.1)

The purpose of the draft Decision was, upon request of the Austrian and French authorities, to respectively recognise Austria and 12 départements in France as officially free of brucella melitensis.

Vote: unanimous vote in favour.

17. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Decision amending Commission Decision 94/85/EEC drawing up a list of third countries from which the Member States authorise imports of fresh poultry meat (Doc. Sanco/584/2001-rev.1)

The Commission explained that Iceland had requested to be authorised to export eggs for human consumption to the Community, in particular to the Faeroe Islands. Decision 94/278/EC specifies that eggs for human consumption are authorised from all third countries listed in Decision 94/85/EC. The purpose of the draft Decision was to add Iceland to this list.

The Commission distributed information on the health situation of poultry in Iceland (Doc. SANCO/1073/2001).

Vote: unanimous vote in favour.

18. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Decision amending for the fourth time Decision 2000/284/EC establishing the list of approved semen collection centres for imports of equine semen from third countries (Doc. Sanco/852/2001)

Postponed.

19. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Decision on Community co-operation with the Food and Agriculture Organisation with particular regard to activities carried out by the European Commission for the control of foot-and-mouth disease (Doc. Sanco/1011/2000-Rev.5)

The purpose of the draft Decision is to fix the maximum amount of the Community contribution for a period of 4 years in order to ensure the operation of the Trust Fund established by the EUFMD.

Vote: unanimous vote in favour.

20. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Decision authorizing laboratories to check the effectiveness of vaccination against rabies in certain domestic carnivores (Doc. SANCO/485/2001, SANCO/1074/2001 and Doc. Sanco/2377/2000-Rev.1)

The purpose of the draft Decision was to draw up a list of laboratories authorised to perform analyses to check the effectiveness of vaccine against rabies. The laboratories concerned have to comply with the proficiency testing procedure for rabies antibody titration within the framework of Council Decision 2000/258/EC (Doc. Sanco/485/2001).

Vote: unanimous vote in favour.

21. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Decision on financial aid from the Community for the operation of certain Community reference laboratories in the field of animal health and live animals, for 2001 (Docs. SANCO/66/2001-Rev.1 and Sanco/68/2001-Rev.1)

Postponed.

22. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Decision amending for the fourth time decision 98/361/EC establishing the list of approved zones, with regard to infectious haematopoietic necrosis and viral haemorrhagic septicemia in Spain (Doc. Sanco/450/2001-Rev.1)

The purpose of the draft Decision was to grant the status of approved zone for all water catchment areas of the river Eo situated in the region of Asturias, in relation to IHN and VHS. The part situated in Galicia had already been approved.

Vote: unanimous vote in favour.

23. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Decision amending Annex A of Council Directive 93/53/EEC introducing minimum Community measures for the control of certain fish diseases (Doc. Sanco/451/2001-Rev.2) (L.B.)

The proposal aims to update the list of national reference laboratories for fish diseases set out in Annex A of Directive 93/53/EEC.

Vote: unanimous vote in favour.

24. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Decision amending Annex C of Council Directive 95/70/EC introducing minimum Community measures for the control of certain diseases affecting bivalve molluscs (Doc. Sanco/452/2001-Rev.1)

The proposal aims to update the list of national reference laboratories for diseases of bivalve molluscs set out in Annex C of Directive 95/70/EC.

Vote: unanimous vote in favour.

25. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Decision amending for the seventh time Decision 95/124/EC establishing the list of approved fish farms in Germany (Doc. Sanco/904/2001)

The purpose of the proposal was to grant, to one farm, the status of approved farm in a non-approved zone and to add it to the list of approved farms in Saxony, Germany. The Commission distributed a document containing " Additional information from Germany on present applications for Community approval of farms in non-approved zones with regard to VHS and/or IHN" (Doc. SANCO/1066/2001)

Vote: unanimous vote in favour.

26. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Decision amending for the second time Decision 1999/766/EC on certain protective measures in respect of infectious salmon anaemia in salmonids in Norway (Doc. Sanco/948/2001)

In the light of the epidemiological situation with regard to ISA in Norway, the Commission proposed to prolong the measures of Decision 1999/766/EC until 1 February 2002. The measures include a ban on the imports into the Community of live salmon and stringent conditions for the importation of salmon products for human consumption.

Vote: unanimous vote in favour.

27. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Decision amending Decision 2000/574/EC on certain protective measures in respect of infectious salmon anaemia in salmonids in Faeroe Islands (Doc. Sanco/949/2001)

In the light of the epidemiological situation with regard to ISA in Faeroe Islands, the Commission proposed to prolong the measures of Decision 2000/574/EC until 1 February 2002.

Vote: unanimous vote in favour.

28. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Decision for the purchase by the Community of bluetongue vaccine for restocking the Community bank and for the implementation of a vaccination programme in Sardinia (Italy) (Doc. Sanco/671/2001-Rev.1)

The purpose of the draft Decision was

  • To purchase 1.000.000 doses of BT vaccine serotype 2 for restocking the Community bank;
  • To purchase 1.900.000 doses of BT vaccine serotype 2 to complete the vaccination campaign in Sardinia

The Italian delegation, however, indicated that the amount of doses proposed would presumably be insufficient. The vote on the proposal was postponed pending clarification on the exact number of doses needed.

Italy also reported some outbreaks of bluetongue type 9 in Calabria. Several Member States expressed their worries about this development.

29. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Decision amending Decision 95/94/EC establishing a list of semen collection centres approved for the export to the Community of semen of domestic animals of the porcine species from certain third countries (Doc. Sanco/574/2001)

The purpose of the draft Decision was to update the list of semen collection centres in Canada, approved for the export to the Community of semen of domestic animals of the porcine species.

Vote: unanimous vote in favour.

30. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Decision concerning the animal health conditions and veterinary certification for imports of live animals of bovine and porcine species from certain third countries and repealing Commission Decisions 83/494/EEC, 92/460/EEC, 92/463/EEC, 93/491/EEC, 96/650/EC and 98/372/EC (Doc. Sanco/233/2000 Rev.5)

Directive 96/93/EC lays down standards for certification, which are necessary for valid certification and to prevent fraud. It is therefore appropriate to ensure that the rules and principles applied by third-country certifying officers provide guarantees which are at least equivalent to those laid down in this Directive.

In order to clarify and simplify the Community legislation the Commission proposed to group together the health conditions required for imports of domestic animals of the bovine and porcine species from third countries and to repeal the decisions in force for those countries.

The proposal had been submitted to the WTO for comments. Certain third countries have asked to postpone the deadline for submission of their comments.

The vote was postponed.

31. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Decision laying down animal health conditions and veterinary certification for the import of specific pathogen free hatching eggs from third countries and drawing up a list of third countries from which Member States authorise imports of such eggs (Doc. Sanco/4006/2000)

The purpose of the draft Decision is to draw up an animal health certificate for specified pathogen free (SPF) eggs and to lay down a third country list from which Member States can authorise the importation off such eggs. The Commission explained that SPF-eggs are used as a diagnostic aid in laboratories or for vaccine production and testing. The risk of disease introduction through these eggs is considered to be low and it is therefore not necessary that these eggs comply with all the conditions required for hatching eggs from third countries.

The proposal had been submitted to the WTO for comments. Certain third countries have asked to postpone the deadline for submission of their comments.

The vote was postponed.

32. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Decision laying down animal health conditions and veterinary certification for imports of live ratites and hatching eggs thereof from third countries including animal health measures to be applied after such importation (Doc. Sanco/3650/2000 rev.5)

Postponed.

33. Exchange of views on a draft Commission Decision on additional guarantees in intra-community trade of pigs relating to Aujeszky's disease, criteria to provide information on this disease and repealing decisions 93/24/EEC and 93/244/EEC (Doc. Sanco/418/2001-rev.1)

The Commission distributed and presented the proposal for study and observation. Following amendments to the Chapter of the International Animal Health Code on Aujeszky's disease, it is appropriate to modify the additional guarantees required in intra-Community trade of pigs in relation to Aujeszky's disease to ensure their consistency with the international rules and better control in the Community. This is the purpose of the draft Decision presented. Moreover, the proposal establishes criteria on the information to be provided by the Member States on the disease.

34. Exchange of views on a draft Commission Decision amending Commission Decision 93/402/EEC concerning animal health conditions and veterinary certification for imports of fresh meat from South American countries to take account of the animal health situation in Uruguay (Doc. Sanco/706/2001)

The Commission distributed and presented the proposal for study and observation, as well as document entitled "Animal health situation update in Uruguay - Foot-and-mouth disease freedom" (Doc. SANCO/1060/2001) The last confirmed outbreak of FMD in Uruguay (department of Artigas) dates back to 24.10.2000. The Commission explained that the competent authorities of Uruguay have provided satisfactory guarantees with regard to the measures taken to control the disease in the department of Artigas. An FVO inspection mission has reported positively that the region of Artigas can be re-authorised for imports into the EC of bone-in meat. The proposal therefore aims to redefine the territories within Uruguay from which imports into the Community of fresh meat are authorised accordingly.

35. Exchange of views on a draft Commission Decision amending Commission Decision 2000/680/EC approving contingency plans for the control of avian influenza and of Newcastle disease (Doc. Sanco/585/2001)

The Commission distributed and presented the proposal for study and observation. Council Directives 92/40/EEC and 92/66/EEC provide that Member States shall draw up a contingency plan, specifying national measures to be implemented in the event of an outbreak of respectively avian influenza and Newcastle disease. The purpose of the draft Decision is to approve the contingency plans submitted by the Member States.

36. Miscellaneous

1. Belgium tabled the problem of returning meat and meat products to the UK because of the FMD outbreaks.

2. Germany questioned the Commission about the FMD situation in Argentina. The Commission distributed a document on the animal health situation (Doc. SANCO/1059/2001). The state of affairs was not clear. The Member States agreed to the Commission's suggestion to write to the Argentinean authorities expressing MS' worries about the situation.

3. Germany also indicated that a number of corrections have to be carried out concerning certificates for game meat.

4. Luxembourg suggested clarifying the identification of horses, and in particular the specification whether the horses are intended for slaughter or not.

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.

Mission reports are available on the Internet at the following address: http://ec.europa.eu/food/fs/inspections/vi/reports/index_en.html

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