Raise BSE testing age, call farmers

Farming leaders are calling on the authorities to raise the age of testing for BSE due to the low volume of cases of the disease being detected across the EU.

The European Commission’s Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH) has agreed to allow 22 member states, including the UK, to raise the BSE testing age from 48 months to 72 months for healthy slaughtered cattle.

Alistair Mackintosh, NFU livestock board chairman, said: “Consumer safety is always of paramount importance to producers, and in relation to BSE, and we understood the need for strict controls in the past.

"However, the time is right to move to a more science-based level of protection. As producers, we want to see regulations that are risk-based and use up-to-date scientific evidence. I would encourage EU ministers to repeat this stance across all EU regulations and do so in a timely manner.

“We have seen the level of BSE cases fall continually; now there are just a handful of cases across the EU. The EFSA opinion supports the view that increasing the testing age will not adversely affect human health.

“I understand the final decision on raising the testing age in the UK lies with the Food Standards Agency and Defra and I am committed to working with both organisations during the forthcoming consultation process with the aim of having the new testing age introduced by 1 July.”


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