Scientific Committee on Veterinary Measures
relating to Public Health
Outcome of discussions
of the meeting held on 30 November in Brussels (approved at
the meeting on 21 December 1998)
List of Participants
Prof. A. Osterhaus (chairperson), Prof.
R. Gilbert (first vice-chairperson), Prof. J.
Fink-Gremmels, Prof. A. Johnston, Prof. O. Kaaden, Prof. A.
Macri, Prof. A. Mantis, Prof. E. Nurmi , Prof. E. Quinto
Fernandez, Dr. J. Schlundt, Dr. I. Vagsholm, Prof. F. Van
Knapen, Prof. P. Willeberg
Prof. D. Vuitton (second
Prof. V. Caporale
Mr. P. Wagstaffe, Mr. T. Christoforou
(LS), Mr. R. Vanhoorde (DG XXIV), Mr. B. Verleysen (DG
XXIV) , Mr. H. Winter (DG VI), Mr. Veli-Mikko Niemi (DG
VI), Mme A. Fabre (DG XII), Mrs. N. Huyghe (DG XXIV), Mr.
H. Belvèze (point 13) (DG XXIV), Mr. K. Madsen (point 13)
1. Declarations of interest
See point 7 of the agenda.
2. Adoption of the Agenda
The agenda was adopted.
3. Adoption of the minutes of the meeting of 30
The minutes were adopted.
4. Discussion and possible adoption of a scientific
opinion concerning cooling of carcasses during
The Committee examined the draft report
and the additional comments that were received from two
members of the working group. The secretariat was asked to
amend the draft report for the next plenary in the light of
the outcome of this exercise.
Some members considered that the report
needs to be clarified in several places on whether the
temperature is referring to deep muscle or to surface
temperature. Others insisted that statements on
acceptability of temperature limits should be underpinned
by hard scientific data.
Considering the advanced stage of the
draft report, the Committee decided to finalise the opinion
on this long outstanding question within the plenary.
Certain members were asked to provide specific input for
the next meeting on the following aspects: the impact of
possible differences in carcass size, the acceptability of
a maximum deep muscle temperature of 16°C, modelling of
microbial growth, the impact of stress and the capacity of
mobile refrigeration units.
5. Information concerning the mandate for a Working
Group on the complementary risk assessment on the use of
hormones and the establishment of a Working Group.
Commission representatives presented the
mandate (copy attached) which had been circulated to the
members before the meeting. They explained the background,
the recent factual, legal, international and scientific
developments. The importance attached by the Commission to
this issue and the need to have an opinion of the highest
possible scientific quality were highlighted. Reference was
also made to the recently initiated and to ongoing research
projects that are financed by the Commission. Several
members requested clarifications and some questioned the
tightness of the timetable. It was clarified that the
Committee is requested to report if possible before the end
of April 1999. But if the opinion is not possible or not
conclusive before then, work should continue and be
finalised as soon as possible in the light of the studies
initiated by the Commission.
The Committee in general and the
chairperson of the Working Group in particular will reflect
on highly qualified external experts for the working group
and to communicate their details to the Secretariat before
the next plenary. Having considered the issues raised by
the mandate, the following fields of expertise will have to
be included: endocrinology (human / veterinary),
carcinogenicity/genotoxity, toxicology / pathology,
(cancer) epidemiology, biochemistry / analytical chemistry,
cellular biology / metabolism, chemical risk assessment,
6. Establishment of a joint Working Group with the
Scientific Committee for Food (SCF) on microbiological
standards for listeria.
The Secretariat informed the Committee
on the draft mandate. It was explained that, as its final
wording is still being discussed in the Commission
services, it might be subject of some minor
Three members of the Committee will
participate in the Working Group that will be extended by
experts to be appointed by the SCF.
7. Progress report on the request for a scientific
opinion concerning the revision of ante- and post- mortem
inspection procedures for an alternative inspection
system for the slaughter of pigs;
As it was agreed at the last plenary,
the rapporteur provided a written description of possible
interests and a declaration expressing his ability to act
independently. After a thorough evaluation of the
situation, the Committee confirmed unanimously its
confidence in his independence.
The Secretariat was asked to explore the
possibilities of organising an additional Working Group
meeting on one of the following dates: 21 or 22 January or
1, 2 or 3 February.
8. Progress report on the request for a scientific
opinion concerning the use of Bovine Somatotropin;
The draft reports from the groups
addressing respectively the pubic health aspects and the
animal health and animal welfare aspects are being
finalised and will be integrated in a global draft
It is expected to have a first global
draft report available for the next plenary session.
9. Progress report on the request for a scientific
opinion on the evaluation of microbiological criteria and
temperatures for storage and transport of products of
animal origin intended for human consumption:
- partim microbiological criteria;
- partim temperatures for storage and
The rapporteur announced that a working
document will be circulated in view of the working group
meeting that is scheduled for 17 December. The Secretariat
informed the Committee that the mandate had been slightly
amended to take into account the difficulties that were
expressed at the last working group meeting.
10. Progress report on the request for a scientific
opinion concerning the prevalence and methods of control
The first Working Group meeting is
scheduled for 29 January.
11. Progress report on the state of progress on the
multidisciplinary working group on antimicrobial
Feedback was given on the ongoing work.
A working group meeting is planned for 03 December.
12. Feed-back by the chairman on subjects discussed in
the SSC which are of interest to the Committee;
Item postponed until the next plenary.
In future agendas and minutes of the SSC will be made
available to the Committee for information.
13. Feed-back by members of the Committee having
attended working group meetings of other Scientific
Reference was made to the work carried
out in the SCF on Spanish soups.
Next meetings are scheduled for:
21 December 1998,
05 February 1999,
15 March 1999,
30 April 1999,
11 June 1999.
HORMONES USED FOR GROWTH PROMOTION PURPOSES IN
TERMS OF REFERENCE
In the context of the WTO case on
Hormones, the European Commission intends to
evaluate the potential for adverse effects to human health
from residues in bovine meat and meat products resulting
from the use of the six hormones for growth promotion
purposes in cattle and whether the currently available
scientific information necessitates the revision of
previous risk assessments.
The Commission consequently requests the
SCVPH to deliver an opinion on the potential for adverse
effects to human health arising from the administration of
the six hormones oestradiol-17
, progesterone, testosterone, zeranol,
trenbolone acetate and melengestrol acetate used individually
or in combinations for animal growth promotion.
The deadline set by the WTO Arbitrator
for the EC to bring its measure into conformity with the
SPS agreement is 13 May 1999. The SCVPH is, therefore,
requested to deliver an opinion before the end of April
1999, responding as far as possible to the questions stated
below. If this opinion is not conclusive, the Commission
will request the SCVPH to subsequently complete its opinion
as soon as possible in the light of the studies initiated
by the Commission.
In light of the preceding and taking
- the use of the six hormones,
individually or in combinations, for growth promotion
purposes in cattle,
- the current scientific information
with respect to health-related biological actions such as
genotoxicity, carcinogenicity, embryotoxicity (including
teratogenicity), endocrine and reproductive effects of the
hormones in question and their metabolites,
- possible long-term exposure and
potential synergistic effects,
- the current techniques and standards
for the evaluation of the safety of substances leaving
residues in food,
- possible effects on the most
vulnerable parts of the population, in particular young
a) What are the potential adverse
effects on human health from residues in bovine meat and
meat products resulting from the use of the six hormones in
question for growth promotion in cattle?
In answering this question, the SCVPH is
asked to include an assessment in terms of carcinogenicity,
genotoxicity, embryotoxicity (including teratogenicity) and
endocrine, reproductive or other effects, taking into
account long-term and synergistic effects from exposure to
residues of these hormones and their metabolites in meat
and meat products.
b) To what extent is the currently
available information (clinical and epidemiological
evidence included) sufficient to allow the SCVPH to
complete its assessment, in particular for MGA?
The main criticism of the WTO Panel and
Appellate Body reports of the scientific evidence presented
by the EC was that this evidence "constitute general
studies which do indeed show the existence of a general
risk of cancer, but they do not focus on and do not address
the particular kind of risk here at stake - carcinogenic or
genotoxic potential of the residues of those hormones found
in meat derived from cattle to which the hormones had been
administered for growth promotion purposes".
In relation to the reply to question 1,
a) which are the appropriate systems (in
vivo and/or in vitro) to test for potential carcinogenic or
b) if it has been scientifically
established that these hormones or their metabolites are
carcinogenic or genotoxic in general in vivo and/or in
vitro studies, is it still necessary to establish whether
the residues in bovine meat are carcinogenic or
c) whether the risk assessments of the
five hormones by JECFA in 1987/1989 and of MGA by the US
and Canadian authorities were based on evidence focusing
specifically on the lack of carcinogenic, genotoxic, or
endocrine effects of the residues of these hormones in
bovine meat and meat products?
The basis for the risk assessments of
the five hormones by JECFA in 1987/1989 and of MGA by the
competent US and Canadian authorities was the assumption
that their carcinogenic potential is exclusively related to
their hormonal activity. Is this assumption still valid in
light of the currently available scientific information,
e.g. on carcinogenicity, genotoxicity, endocrine and
synergistic effects from long-term exposure to residues of
one or more of these hormones?
a) What are the potential adverse
effects if the approved conditions of use stated in the
label instruction are not respected, for instance due to
other routes of administration, higher and more frequent
doses, different or un-authorised combinations or
non-respect of prescribed withdrawal periods?
b) Are there particular risks associated
with the practical administration of these
c) Are adequate analytical methods
available to control that the approved conditions of use
for the six hormones and, in particular, the three natural
ones have been adhered to?
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