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Brussels, 12 June 2001

BSE: Commission toughens measures against Transmissible Spogniform Encepalopathies

The Commission today agreed to put forward a series of proposals in anticipation of the application from 1 July 2001 of Regulation 999/2001 of the Council and the European Parliament on Transmissible Spongifrom Encephalopathies (TSE). This regulation includes a framework of Community measures to combat animal and public health risks resulting from TSE's. Today's proposals reduce the age for mandatory BSE testing of cattle in a higher risk group to 24 months (instead of 30) and introduce random TSE testing on sheep and goats. They prolong the present ban on feeding meat-and-bone meal. The range of imported products to the EU to be governed by protective measures is also proposed to be extended with effect from 1 October 2001. Finally, to accommodate the wishes of the Member States and the Parliament the Commission is proposing to amend BSE eradication rules, introducing an option for local competent authorities not to require the killing of all cattle in herds where a BSE case has been confirmed.

"Now that we are approaching the practical implementation of this key piece of legislation to protect human and animal health from the risk of BSE and other TSE's, it is necessary to make sure that all its provisions are clear and up-to-date, and maintain the highest level of protection", David Byrne, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection said, commenting the proposals." I consider especially important the introduction for the first time of a systematic approach to testing of sheep for scrapie. This will give us more detailed information on this animal disease."

Today's proposals aim to update the standing text of the TSE Regulation to developments that occurred since the Council reached its Common Position on 12 February this year. The European Parliament gave its green light on this text on May 2, freeing the way for its final adoption and publication on May 29. The Regulation's provisions will be directly applicable as of July 1st, and replace the safeguard measures on BSE taken over the years by Commission Decisions.

The Standing Veterinary Committee (SVC) is to further discuss and give its opinion on these proposals on Wednesday this week. In case the SVC gives a favourable opinion on the proposals, the Commission will adopt them. If the SVC does not reach a favourable opinion, the Commission will submit the proposals to the Council of Ministers next week for adoption.


  • Reduction in the age of testing of cattle falling into a high risk group (sent for emergency slaughter, found sick at normal slaughter and of animals that have died on farms) from 30 to 24 months EU-wide as of 1 July 2001. This is to provide an early warning system of any unfavourable trend in incidence of BSE.

  • An end to the requirement to carry out testing of all healthy bovines aged over 30 months in Austria, Finland and Sweden as of 1 July 2001. Those countries will however need to continue to test at least 10 000 healthy cattle over 30 months on a random basis. This is because scientists have advised that the presence of BSE in these countries is unlikely and substantial BSE testing efforts since the beginning of 2001 have not detected a single BSE case.

  • Introduction of the requirement to test at least 50 000 bovines aged over 30 months in the UK in order to obtain a better epidemiological picture. However, all bovines over 30 months continue to be destroyed in the UK.

  • Introduction of random post mortem testing of sheep and goats over 18 months, thus covering healthy animals at slaughter and in fallen stock as of 1 October 2001.

  • A facility to allow Member States to test health animals aged under 30 months on a voluntary basis and without discrimination to trade.


Prolongation of the current suspension on the use of meat and bone meal (MBM) in animal feedingstuffs. This ban will be kept under review in the light of the future decision on the risk classification of the country or countries concerned and of progress in the implementation of strict and effective controls.

  • Introduction of offspring and cohort slaughter as compulsory with whole herd slaughter on a voluntary basis in the event of the discovery of BSE cases as of 1 July 2001.

  • Introduction of a requirement for imports from certain third countries of an effective MBM ban to ruminants and full tracing to the herd and dam of origin from 1 October 2001. An exemption is granted for those countries where scientists have concluded it is most unlikely that they will ever have native BSE-cases. .

  • Adaptation of the list of products of animal origin imported into the Community to include restrictions on a range of new products, especially tallow, gelatine and petfood from 1 October 2001. It will mainly be required to remove specific risk materials (i.e spinal cord, brain) from the production of those products.


    Use of Rapid TSE - Test


over 30 monthsunder 30 monthsexceptions for countries
Healthy cattle human consumption Obligatory 100 % DE (24 m)Proposal from 1 July random for AU, SV, SF
Healthy cattle destructionObligatory 100 % from 1 July, except UK

UK will have to carry out random sample in addition to all 8-96 to 8-97 born OTMS cattle


over 30 monthsunder 30 monthsexceptions for countries
At-risk cattle

(emergency and sick slaughter, for food chain )

Obligatory 100 %

Proposal from 1 July 100 %: 24 m

At-risk cattle (fallen stock) - not for food chain

Obligatory random

From 1 July 100 %

Proposal from 1 July exception for remote areas in: AU, SV, SF

Clinical suspectsRapid tests not obligatoryRapid tests not obligatory, age limit abolished from 1 July
Over 18 months

- slaughter animals;

- fallen stock

Proposal: random and taken from both groups

With small sheep/ goat population

- restriction to dead and chronic wasting animals

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