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EU outlines plans to relax BSE restrictions

".....Commission proposes lifting the additional restrictions the bloc put on imports of live cattle and beef products from the UK. Meat must be deboned and cattle aged over 30 months are excluded from export to the rest of the EU and overseas.

The Commission also proposes to amend regulations on meat parts considered as "specified risk materials" (SRM), on feeds, on culling and on current monitoring programmes. The proposals are set out in a recently published consulation document.

"We have come to the stage that amendments of certain measures could be envisaged without endangering the health of the consumer or the policy of eradicating BSE, provided that the positive trend continues and scientific conditions are in place," the Commission stated.

The Commission also proposes to raise the age limit for removing the vertebral column from cattle to 24 months from the current 12 months. The recommendation was made earlier this year by the EU's food safety regulator. The proposed amendment would allow certain cuts of meat currently banned from the market, such as T-bone steak, to be sold in the EU.

The restrictions on the use of SRM include a prohibition to use such products for the production of derived products for use in food and feed such as tallow, gelatine, collagen and dicalcium phosphate. Such restrictions might also be relaxed.

Other possible amendments include:

  • relaxing the total ban on processed animal protein in feed, which was introduced in 1994 and extended in 2001;

  • a move to more targeted testing of animals for BSE or transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE), the general name for the disease in all animals, including sheep and goats;

  • finding alternatives to the current requirement that a whole beef herd must be slaughtered when one case of BSE is detected;


  • using country specific measures if some members fall behind in eradicating the disease.