The sharp fall in bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) cases in the EU must not lead to a slackening of surveillance, say MEPs in a resolution passed on Wednesday. Any change to BSE safety rules must maintain high animal and public health standards, but the ban on feeding animal protein to non-ruminants, such as pigs, could gradually be lifted if further safeguards are put in place, they add.
Changes to current EU laws, which the Commission is about to review, could include new rules on removing specific risk materials from animal feed, a gradual relaxation of the animal protein feed ban, changes to cohort culling policy and a higher age limit for BSE testing, says the non-legislative resolution, drafted by Dagmar Roth Behrendt (S&D, DE).
MEPs reject a Commission proposal to reduce EU funding on research into transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), including BSE.
Strict conditions for any feed ban review
The Commission’s TSE Roadmap 2 moots a possible gradual lifting of the prohibition on the feeding of processed animal proteins to non-ruminants. Given the EU’s “protein deficit”, MEPs back this idea, subject to strict conditions and safeguards. These include stipulating that the processed animal proteins must come from species not linked to TSE, and may be fed only to non-herbivores. Prohibitions on cannibalism must remain and only processed animal proteins fit for human consumption should be used, MEPs add.
Food and feed contamination
Commenting on wider food and feed safety, MEPs express concern about recent contamination cases, e.g. with dioxin, and call on EU Member States to enforce existing rules and strengthen them, if necessary.
TSEs cause degeneration of brain tissue leading to death in man and animals. They include Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and Kuru in humans, bovine spongiform encephalopathy in cattle and scrapie in sheep and goats.