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  EUROPA > European Commission > Health and Consumer Protection > Consumer Voice > June 2001, Number 1

Tough Measures will Come Into Force Against TSEs in July

Summary: A new Regulation comes into force throughout the EU on 1 July to protect against transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). It will take the place of current safeguard measures that protect against BSE, providing a framework for the Community in its efforts to combat animal and public health risks from TSEs.

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On 1 July 2001, Regulation (EC) No 999/2001 of the Council and the European Parliament on transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) will enter into force in the Member States. From that date, the new regulation will take the place of current safeguard measures on bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) that have been taken over the years based on Commission decisions. The regulation is now the legal framework of the Community to combat animal and public health risks resulting from TSEs. It is the first legislation on BSE which was agreed with the full involvement of the European Parliament and it will be directly applicable in all Member States.

Moving beyond the well known provisions such as the meat and bone meal (MBM) ban to ruminants or testing of cattle, some new elements have been incorporated. "Our combat of BSE is based on the sound scientific advice given to the Commission from the Scientific Steering Committee (SSC). Our new safety law maintains the highest level of protection of public health and will be continuously reviewed," Commissioner David Byrne says. He regards as especially important the introduction for the first time of a systematic approach to testing of sheep for scrapie to get more detailed information on that animal disease.

This particular measure becomes part of the TSE Regulation through the new framework for harmonised rules that are aimed at the control and eradication of BSE in cattle, sheep and goats. Mandatory surveillance will be required throughout the EU as will new notification methods, restrictions on movements of suspect animals and herds, culling and disposal requirements for infected animals or animals that could have been exposed to the same source of infection.

Additional BSE eradication measures

  • A reduction of the age for mandatory BSE testing of cattle in the high-risk group. Instead of testing at 30 months, cattle will be tested at 24 months.
  • Random TSE testing will be carried out on sheep and goats.
  • The current ban on feeding animal protein to farm animals will remain in force.
  • New culling and disposal requirements for infected animals and animals potentially exposed to the same source of infection.
  • Full herd slaughter can still be applied on a voluntary basis, but slaughtering of feed and birth cohort is obligatory.
  • Tougher rules for imports from third countries.

There will also be new requirements to be met by third countries who export live cattle and products of animal origin to the EU from the 1 October 2001. They will need to provide certification that an effective MBM meal ban is in place on feed for ruminants and show full traceability for each animal back to the herd and dam. Some additional BSE restrictions will apply to a range of new products of animal origin that are imported into the EU, especially tallow, gelatine and petfood. Specified risk materials such as spinal cord and brain must be removed from these products. Third countries where the BSE Geographical BSE risk level is assessed as level 1 (BSE highly unlikely) will be exempt from the requirements.

The full text of the Commission Proposal (COM)2001/345 laying down transitional measures to permit the change-over to (EC)Regulation No 999/2001 laying down rules for the prevention, control and eradication of certain transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, and amending Annexes VII and XI of that Regulation, can be found on EUR-Lex (PDF: 65 KB / 19 pages).