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Brussels, 20 April 2001

BSE: Commission working paper proposing to prolong MBM-ban

The European Commission services have submitted to the Member States a working paper on the future strategy on the use of meat-and-bone meal (MBM) in Europe which will form the basis of a discussion at the Agriculture Council next week in Luxembourg. Based on the results of a series of inspection visits of the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) to the Member States on the implementation of BSE safety legislation((1)) and a first evaluation of the results of increased BSE-testing it is considered premature to lift the temporary ban which will expire end of June. Therefore the Commission suggests to keep the ban in place until the adoption of the proposed legislation on animal by products which is foreseen in the beginning of 2002 ( This proposal will establish rules for the production of feed ingredients of animal origin exclusively from animals fit for human consumption. The existing prohibition from 1994 to feed MBM to ruminants stays of course in place. A formal legislative text of the Commission will be proposed in the near future.

A permanent ban of feeding of MBM to non-ruminant species like pigs, poultry and fish is not scientifically justified. The EU nevertheless decided to ban all MBM feeding for a temporary time until the end of June after it became apparent that the prohibition to feed MBM to ruminants was not fully respected. The suspension gave time to evaluate the control systems in place in Member States and to look at the long-term consequences of a permanent ban.

The working paper of the Commission therefore suggests that it would be appropriate to lift the MBM-ban on non-ruminant species when the following conditions are fulfilled:

1. destruction of all remaining stocks of MBM

    2. adoption of the legislation on animal-by-products which establishes the following principles:

    •  only animal-by-products derived from animals fit for human consumption may be used for animal feed

    •  a complete separation of rendering plants dedicated to feed production from rendering plants processing other animal waste

    •  stricter rules of traceability of animal-by-products

 This approach would have the following advantages:

  •  avoiding huge environmental consequences due to the destruction of 14 mio t of animal-by-products annually in Europe

  •  avoiding animal health problems due to the substitution of animal proteins by vegetable proteins since pigs and poultry are not "vegetarians"

  •  it is scientifically justified and therefore defendable to WTO

  •  taking into account the enormous economic impact of the ban on farmers and industry

The Commission paper concludes: "A total permanent ban of the feeding of animal proteins to farmed animals may be appealing from a political point of view, but it would imply recognition of the failure of Member States, industry and agricultural interests to implement basic Community legislation. It would also surrender the benefits of all the efforts and investments made by Member States and the industry in the last 4 years to improve standards". For example, all EU rendering plants are now equipped to operate the EU pressure cooking standards for animal-by-products of 133°C, 3 bars for 20 minutes. For example, Denmark, the Netherlands and Ireland have established a production system of animal feed where cross-contamination can be avoided.

See also MEMO/01/122 (from 6 April, 2001) and

(1)() -a ban on the feeding of mammalian meat and bone meal (MBM) to cattle, sheep and goats, as of July 1994;-higher processing standards for the treatment of animal waste (133°C, 3 bars of pressure for twenty minutes) to reduce infectivity to a minimum, as of 1 April 1997;-surveillance measures for the detection, control and eradication of BSE, as of 1 May 1998;-the requirement to remove specified risk materials (SRMs like spinal cord, brain, eyes, tonsils, parts of the intestines) from cattle, sheep and goats throughout the EU from 1 October 2000 from the human and animal food chains. The obligation is also mandatory for imports of meat and meat products from third countries into the EU except Argentina, Australia, Botswana, Brazil, Chile, Namibia, Nicaragua, Norway, New Zealand, Paraguay, Singapore, Swaziland and Uruguay since 1 April 2001;-the introduction of targeted testing for BSE, with a focus on high risk animal categories, from 1 January 2001;-a ban on the use of ruminant meat and bone meal and certain other animal proteins in feedstuffs for all farm animals, to avoid risks of cross-contamination, at least until end of June 2001;-the testing of all cattle aged over 30 months destined for human consumption;-a ban on the use of mechanically recovered meat derived from bones of cattle, sheep and goats in feed and food.

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