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Food Safety

- Regulatory Committees - Standing Veterinary Committee

Short report of the meeting (2001/11) held in Brussels on 20 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 epidemiological situation and on the measures taken. At the time of reporting, the total number of confirmed outbreaks stood at 259 in Great Britain, one in Northern Ireland. In addition to the holdings on which disease has been confirmed, animals on 325 holdings considered to be at risk from FMD through contacts with an infected holding, have also been killed.

The measures taken in the controlled area (England and Wales) were further extended without time limit:

- prohibition of the movements of all FMD susceptible animals and their carcasses in the whole of England and Wales, except under license. However, movements of animals of any species direct to abattoirs for slaughter had been allowed.

- banning the holding of fairs, markets, shows or other gatherings of animals.

The UK delegation stated explicitly that the disposal of the animals was a major problem due to shortage of staff and requested the Member States to supply veterinary staff to help.

The Commission presented the report of an inspection mission carried out in the UK from 12/03 until 16/03/2001. The objective of the mission was to assess the situation in relation to the outbreaks of FMD and the organisation of the measures taken by the competent authority. The Commission's representative presented the main conclusions.

France

The French delegation distributed and presented a report on the epidemiological situation, the measures taken as regards "at risk animals" and movement controls.

Since 21 February 2001, France has traced susceptible animals coming from the UK. These investigations revealed that 23 first destination holdings had received ovines. From these 23 holdings, 36 other farms in France had received animals. A number of other holdings had received, via the Netherlands, ovines from UK-origin. In total, ovines originating in the UK were delivered in 25 French départements. France explained the measures taken in all these holdings with 'risk animals'.

The results of the analyses and investigations carried out. To date, only one outbreak had been confirmed. This outbreak had already been declared at the last SVC.

The French delegate presented the movement control measures taken in the départements in which positive serology was obtained from animals of UK origin, as well as the measures taken in the rest of the country.

2. Information from the Member States on the situation

The Netherlands reported a suspected case of FMD. On 15 March, a veterinarian had reported clinical symptoms on a goat farm. Investigations were not yet finalised. The Dutch delegation stated that, pending definitive results, a total standstill for live susceptible animals from the whole of the Netherlands would be installed. As of 21 March, no slaughtering of animals would be allowed out until results of investigations were available.

The other Member States reported on the results of the tracing, investigations and sampling carried out.

3. Information concerning the foot-and-mouth disease situation in Argentina

At the last SVC, the Committee has given a favourable opinion to a draft Decision suspending imports of fresh meat from FMD susceptible species originating in Argentine as from 14 March until 15 April 2001. The Commission considered, however, that the consignments underway, produced and certified before 14 March 2001, represent a negligible risk and could therefore be allowed to be imported (see point 4).

4. 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.

In the light of the information given under point 3, the Commission introduced a proposal in relation to the draft Decision on which the SVC has given a favourable opinion at its previous meeting, but which had not yet been formally adopted by the Commission.

The purpose of the proposal was to suspend imports of fresh meat from Argentina as from 14 March 2001, as agreed upon at the SVC of 13 March, but to authorise imports of de-boned fresh meat and offal produced and certified on or before 13 March 2001.

The majority of Member States could not agree to this approach, considering the lack of clarity in the information provided by the Argentinean authorities, and asked the vote to be postponed.

5. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Decision amending Decision 2001/208/EC concerning certain protection measures with regards to foot-and-mouth disease in France (Doc. SANCO/1218/2001-rev.1)

As no new cases of FMD appeared in France after the first outbreak, the Commission proposed:

- that fresh meat can be transported from the 'départements' of Mayenne and Orne to meat processing plants in other parts of France under strict veterinary supervision for the appropriate treatment aimed at killing the FMD virus;

- to extend Decision 2001/208/EC until 4 April 2001.

In addition, provided no new case of FMD appeared in France until 28 March 2001, all tests and examinations on suspected animals being negative, it was proposed:

- to apply to all the 'départements' of France, with the exception of the "départements' Mayenne and Orne, the same rules as for the other Member States;

- to prohibit the dispatch of live animals susceptible to FMD from the 'départements' of Mayenne and Orne.

Vote: unanimous vote in favour.

However, as a new case of FMD was confirmed in France on March 23, these latter provisions have not entered into force.

6. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Decision amending for the third time Decision 2001/172/EC concerning certain protection measures with regard to foot-and-mouth disease in the United Kingdom (Doc. SANCO/1217/2001)

The Commission proposed to allow the transport of pigs, sheep, cows and goats in all Member States except the United Kingdom, provided that:

- the animals are transported directly or through an approved assembly centre from the farm to the slaughterhouse, , for immediate slaughter; subject to authorization by the competent authorities at the place of departure and destination

- the animals are transported to another holding, subject to authorization by the competent authorities at the place of departure and destination;

- that during transport, animals do not come into contact with animals from another holding, unless they are transported for slaughter.

In addition it was decided to extend Decision 2001/172/EC until 4 April 2001.

Vote: 72 votes in favour; 15 abstentions.

7. 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.8)

The draft presented was the result of discussions held in an ad hoc working group. The proposal aims to lay down the import and certification requirements for imports, from third countries, of live ratites and hatching eggs thereof into the Community. The draft Decision also lays down the list of third countries or parts of third countries from which these exports are allowed into the EU.

The SVC reached a technical agreement by unanimity. The draft Decision was to be forwarded to the WTO for comments.

8. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the committee on a modification draft of Commission Decision 92/486/EEC modified by Commission Decision 2000/288/EC (collaboration between the host centre ANIMO and the Member States) (Doc. SANCO/1134/2001)

The Commission explained that the ANIMO network architecture should be reviewed and that a new call for tenders for the European host centre is being prepared. Pending finalisation of these procedures, the Commission proposed to extend the contractual arrangements between Member States and the European host server for a further year. The Member States, however, were very reluctant to a further extension and requested to reflect on the matter.

The vote was postponed.

9. Miscellaneous

1. Germany asked about the state of affairs concerning certain corrections to be made in certain certificates (letter of 01/2001) and in Decision 99/155/EC.

2. Belgium wanted to know which action the Commission has taken to promote the awareness of tour operators as regards FMD.

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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- Regulatory Committees - Standing Veterinary Committee
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