The opinion of EFSA on age-related parameters related to the revision of the BSE Monitoring Regime


<div>The European Commission has asked EFSA to deliver a scientific opinion on whether the age-related parameters related to the BSE monitoring regime could be extended in the old EU member countries (EU-15). Under current EU legislation BSE testing has to be performed on all healthy slaughtered cattle over the age of 30 months. Also all of the cattle over the age of 24 months presented for emergency slaughter as well as those that have died on the farm (so-called risk animals) have to be examined. </div>

In its opinion, EFSA has assessed whether increasing the age-related parameters for testing could impair the detection of BSE cases. In the opinion is noted that by increasing the age for testing of healthy and even of risk animals from the current 36 months to 48 months, a maximum of one BSE case would go undetected in the EU area.

EFSA also notes that the BSE epidemic in the old member countries has significantly and continually declined since 2001. In 2001 a total of 2164 BSE cases were discovered in these 15 countries, whereas last year there were only 149. A total of 65 million analyses were carried out over this period. In 2007 there were no BSE cases discovered in the following member states: Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Luxembourg and Greece.

The most significant measures taken in order to reduce the BSE risk for animals and consumers and to control the epidemic have been the prohibition of using meat-and-bone meal in feed for animals destined for food production and the removal of so-called risk materials in conjunction with the slaughter of cattle, sheep and goats.

The Commission has requested those member states who wish to raise the current age limits for testing to present their application to the Commission for assessment by 1.9. 2008. Age limits to be adhered to will be agreed on in conjunction with the other member countries. The aim is to process the applications during the autumn and to put the new age limits into place from 1.1.2009. Finland will also submit its own application for assessment.

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) assessed in May this year that the risk of BSE in Finland is negligible.

The assessment and opinion of EFSA’s Biological Hazards Panel (BIOHAZ) have been published on EFSA’s Internet pages 17.7.2008:

For additional information, please contact:
Director General Jaana Husu-Kallio, Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira tel. +358 20 77 24 000, +358 400 291 910
Senior Veterinary Officer Kajsa Hakulin, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, tel. +358 9 1605 2433, +358 40 719 3259

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