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Will Britain Back Relaxed EU ‘Mad Cow’ Testing Rules?

13 October 2008

UK - Tough controls on beef that protect consumers from the human form of “mad cow” disease may be relaxed in Britain and across the Continent.

At present the brains of all cattle aged over 30 months are tested for BSE before the beef is allowed into the food chain. The European Commission has now put forward a plan to raise the testing age to 48 months from next January.

In the UK this would mean that beef from 106,000 cattle a year – about a quarter of all British beef produced annually – would be allowed on sale for the dinner plate without their brains being tested.

The Food Standards Agency is recommending the change to its board, which is to discuss the issue next Wednesday. Advice will then be sent to health ministers. Approval has already been given to the Commission by the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa).

Professor Patrick Wall, chairman of Efsa and an adviser to the FSA on meat controls, told The Times that the tests on 30 month-old cattle were redundant. “In the past two years of testing for BSE in animals over 30 months there have been no positive cases in cattle under 42 months throughout Europe. My view is that the controls are not necessary and are not proportionate to the risk,” he said.

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Source: TimeOnline


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