Brussels, 25 January 2002
The Scientific steering committee (SSC), which advises the European Commission on Transmissible/Bovine Spongiform Encephalophaties (TSE/BSE) has published an opinion praising the UK's culling programme, but criticising the German request for a derogation from the TSE regulation.
The SSC was asked for its opinion on whether certain measures implemented in the UK and German could be regarded as comparable to so-called cohort culling (the destruction of animals of the same age originating from the same heard), as required in EU legislation.
The scientists found that the UK's BSE management measures offer equivalent safety to cohort culling, provided they are effectively implemented. Scientists were however more critical of the request by Germany for a derogation from the culling approach as spelled out in the TSE regulation, which specifies that the birth and rearing cohort must be culled. Germany requested to have a case by case approach which would allow the culling of only the birth cohort in certain cases. The SSC concluded that culling the full cohort would add additional safety for consumers, and recommended that this approach be maintained.
The SSC also adopted a new opinion on the risk from the use of penetrative stunning methods in slaughterhouses, stating that this method may displace brain material into the bloodstream depending on the method used. Evidence is however scarce, and more research is needed, state the SSC.
The committee updated its position on the safety of materials from the head of the animal, reiterating its opinion that cheek meat of cattle can be safely used, but that the brain and eyes should be removed from the food chain.
Following confirmation of the presence of BSE by positive test results, the scientists also changed the classification of Austria, Finland and Slovenia to GBR III level, confirming that the risk of BSE is at the lower level. The same classification has been proposed for Greece and Japan, and will be confirmed following the completion of reports currently under preparation.
To access the full opinions, please consult the following web address: http://europa.eu.int/comm/food/fs/sc/ss c/outcome_en.html