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MEMO/05/263

Brussels, 15 July 2005

Questions and answers on TSE Roadmap

What are TSEs?

Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs) are a family of diseases characterised by a degeneration of brain tissue, giving a sponge-like appearance. The family includes diseases such as Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease (CJD) in humans, Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle and scrapie in sheep and goats. BSE was first diagnosed in the UK in 1986, and reached epidemic proportions due to the inclusion of meat and bone meal produced from animal carcasses in animal feed. Up to 2004, there have been around 184 000 cases of BSE in the UK and 4 700 cases elsewhere in the EU-25. Surveillance has shown that most cases were in cattle born in 1994, 1995 and 1996, i.e. before the EU measures were introduced.

What are the measures currently in place for BSE in the EU?

The EU has a large body of legislation in place, drawn up on the basis of independent scientific advice, to protect humans and animals from BSE. Among the main measures currently in effect are:

  • The Feed Ban: Since July 1994, there has been an EU ban on meat and bone meal (MBM) in cattle feed. A total EU suspension on the use of processed animal protein in feed for any animals farmed for the production of food has been in place since 2001. The only exception has been the use of fishmeal in feed for non-ruminants. There have also been stringent rules on the treatment of ruminant animal waste since 1995.
  • Surveillance: A comprehensive surveillance system has been in place since 2001. This included post-mortem testing of all risk animals aged over 24 months and the testing of all healthy slaughtered bovine animals over 30 months of age.
  • Specified Risk Material (SRM): Since October 2000, SRM, which is considered to pose the greatest risk of BSE transmission, has had to be removed and destroyed to prevent it entering the food and feed chain. The current list of SRM for all bovine animals over 12 months includes the skull, brain, eyes, vertebral column and spinal cord, while the tonsils, intestines and mesentery of bovine animals of all ages must be removed.
  • Animal By-Products: Under the animal by-products Regulation, only animals deemed fit for human consumption following veterinary inspection may be used for the production of animal feed, while intra-species recycling is banned. Strict rules on excluded materials are laid down, including clear identification and traceability rules.
  • Measures following detection of a positive BSE case: Where a positive case of BSE is found in an animal slaughtered for human consumption, the carcass, and those slaughtered immediately before and after it, must be destroyed, as must all the birth and rearing cohorts of the BSE case.

What impact have these measures had?

The results of the intensive monitoring programme which has been in place since 2000 show that there has been a significant overall decrease in the number of cases of the disease across the EU. In 2002, there were 2129 recorded BSE cases in the EU-15, whereas this figure had dropped to 850 for the EU-25 by 2004. There is also a significant fall in the number of cases by birth cohort, from over 1 700 in 1995 to 2 in 2001. The average age of positive BSE cases in healthy slaughtered animals in the EU has risen, from 76.2 months in 2001 to 95.0 months in 2004. This data supports the idea that BSE contamination occurred during a clearly defined period in the past before the stringent EU measures entered into force.

Why has the Commission drawn up a Roadmap on BSE?

The TSE Roadmap is intended as a reflection paper on possible future amendments to BSE measures in the short, medium and long-term, prompted by the improved BSE situation in the EU. It is to be used as a basis for an in-depth discussion with the Council, European Parliament and other stakeholders on how the EU should proceed with regard to BSE. The relaxation of certain BSE measures would have a positive impact on the competitiveness of farmers and industries in the EU, while also enabling greater focus to be given to other threats to animal and human health which have emerged in recent years and are considered to be less under control than the BSE situation, for example, Avian Influenza. However, the Roadmap emphasises that any amendments to or relaxation of measures in the future should be based on scientific advice and have full Member State backing.

What are the main areas covered by the Roadmap?

The Roadmap deals with the main BSE measures in place, outlining the current EU legislation and presenting possible future policy options for consideration. Among the issues dealt with in the Roadmap are the rules on the removal of SRMs, the culling of cohorts, aspects of the feed ban, monitoring programmes, the eradication policy for small ruminants, BSE-risk country categorisation and the UK embargo.

Does this mean that there will be less protection against BSE?

No. The health of the consumer will remain the chief priority and no changes which would in any way compromise this will be considered. The amendment of certain measures would only be proposed if the positive trend continues and changes are backed by solid scientific assessment and conditions.

Will there be changes to the categorisation of countries according to BSE risk?

The current EU import measures regarding TSEs are based on the 4-category Geographical BSE Risk (GBR) assessment procedure. Assessments are based on specific information which must be submitted by the countries concerned, relating in particular to the number of detected cases in the country, animal by-product rendering standards, the use of SRMs, the use of meat and bone meal in ruminant animal feed. These are transitional measures, pending the final categorisation of countries according to their BSE status, and are due to expire on 30 June 2007.

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has adopted a new simplified procedure for categorising countries under one of three headings – negligible BSE risk, controlled BSE risk and undetermined BSE risk. The Roadmap states that before the EU’s current transitional measures expire (i.e. July 1, 2007), countries should be categorised under the OIE simplified headings, on the basis of a risk assessment and active surveillance programme.

See also IP/05/952.

Annex

Pays/country
< 1988
1988
1989
1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
Total
Belgique/België
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
6
3
9
46
38
15
11
129
Ceská Republika
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
2
2
4
7
15
Danmark
0
0
0
0
0
1(a)
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
6
3
2
1
14
Deutschland
0
0
0
0
0
1(a)
0
3(a)
0
0
2(a)
0
0
7
125
106
54
65
363
Ellas
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
1
España
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
2
82
134
173
138
529
France
0
0
0
0
5
0
1
4
3
12
6
18
31(b)
162
277
240
138
54
951
Ireland
0
0
15(b)
14(b)
17(b)
18(b)
16
19(b)
16(b)
74
80
83
95
149
246
333
185
121
1.481
Italia
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
2(a)
0
0
0
0
0
0
50
36(b)
31
8
127
Luxembourg
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
2
Nederland
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
2
2
2
2
20
24
19
6
77
Österreich
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
1
Polska
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
4
5
11
20
Portugal
0
0
0
1(a)
1(a)
1(a)
3(a)
12
15
31
30
127
159
150(b)
113
86(b)
133(b)
91
953
Slovenija
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
1
1
2
5
Slovensko
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
5
6
2
7
20
Suomi/Finland
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
1
Total EU-UK
0
0
15
15
23
21
20
40
34
117
122
236
290
482
976
1.014
762
522
4.689
United Kingdom
442
2.514
7.228
14.407
25.359
37.280
35.090
24.436
14.562
8.149
4.393
3.235
2.301
1.441
1.196
1.130
614
343
184.120
Total EU 25
442
2.514
7.243
14.422
25.382
37.301
35.110
24.476
14.596
8.266
4.515
3.471
2.591
1.923
2.172
2.144
1.376
865
188.809
Canada
0
0
0
0
0
0
1(a)
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
1
2
Switzerland
0
0
0
2
8
15
29
64
68
45
38
14
50
33
42
24
21
3
456
Israel
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
1
Japan
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
3
2
4
5
14
Liechtenstein
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
2
0
0
0
0
0
0
2
United States
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1(a)
0
0
Total world
442
2514
7243
14424
25390
37316
35139
24540
14664
8311
4553
3487
2641
1956
2217
2171
1402
874
189.284

Sources : < 1997: OIE; From 1997 Systematic notification of animal diseases by MS, completed by monthly reports of the UK and Portugal, and since 2001, of the other MS; websites of the competent authorities of MS and the IOE. - (a) All imported cases - (b) Including imported cases: Ireland: 5 in 1989, 1 in 1990, 2 in 1991 and 1992, 1 in 1994 and 1995; France: 1 in 1999; Portugal: 1 in 2000, 2002 and 2003; Italy: 1 in 2002


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