Number of BSE tests in Finland will be reduced as from 1.1.2009

16.10.2008

<div>The number of tests for BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) in Finland and the other old EU member states will be reduced as from 1.1.2009. The reduction is a consequence of the decision made by the European Commission to increase the age limit for the testing of cattle from the current 24–30 months to 48 months. In Finland this means a reduction of the number of samples to be tested from 120 000 to about 75 000 samples. As to costs this means savings of hundreds of thousands euros.</div>

Large numbers of cattle have been tested for BSE in Finland and in other Community member states for several years. According to the testing programme that was extended in 2001 all emergency slaughter cattle and those that have died or been killed at 24 months or over and all cattle over the age of 30 months that were slaughtered as healthy have been tested for BSE. In 2007 a total of 119 360 cattle were tested in Finland for BSE with negative results. The only BSE case in Finland was found in 2001.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published an opinion in July 2008 on the potentially increased risk caused by a reduction of BSE testing in those member states that were EU members before 2004. According to EFSA’s opinion, increasing the minimum age for BSE testing from the current age-related parameters to 48 months in all of these member states could result in a maximum of one case being expected to be missed annually.

Increasing the lower age limit for cattle to be tested would indicate that the risk management measures that have been carried out for over ten years in order to reduce the risk of BSE have been effective and the number of BSE cases has been considerably reduced.

For additional information, please contact:
Director General Jaana Husu-Kallio, Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira, tel. 020 77 24 000, 0400 291 910
Senior Veterinary Officer Kajsa Hakulin, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, tel. (09) 1605 2433, 040 719 3259
Head of Research Unit, Liisa Kaartinen, Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira, tel. 020 77 24 577, 040 8407364

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