NFUS Calls on Secretary of State to Support TSE Change

Potential for EC amendment to strip cost out of sheep sector

NFU Scotland has written to Defra Secretary of State Michael Gove, calling on him to support a proposed change to European rules on TSE controls that could help strip out unnecessary costs from the sheep sector.

The European Commission is proposing a draft amendment to TSE Controls [Regulation 999/2001]. This is expected in February.  The regulation requires the removal of Specified Risk Material (SRM) from the carcases of all sheep slaughtered for human consumption. The parts of a sheep presently specified as SRM vary between sheep aged under 12 months and sheep aged over 12 months.

However, sheep are only identified as being older than 12 months through time-consuming and inaccurate dentition inspections of each sheep’s mouth to check for the emergence of permanent incisors.

In writing to Mr Gove, President Andrew McCornick said: “The proposed amendment would permit other methods to identify the age of sheep.  This welcome move would give regulators the flexibility to use a method best suited to the UK industry.

“The current method of checking teeth for permanent incisor eruption is costly and inaccurate.  Industry has previously explored alternative methods including using a cut-off date each year, after which animals would be regarded as being older than 12 months.

“The proposed amendment would not change the current requirement in the UK to split carcasses of sheep over 12 months to remove the spinal cord – undoubtedly one of the biggest costs to the UK sheep industry.

“In the UK it is an offence to remove the spinal cord from older sheep other than by splitting the whole vertebral column or removing a section of the whole vertebral column including the spinal cord. Other EU states only require the removal of as much SRM as possible, while in the UK, 100% SRM removal is compulsory.

“However, that gold-plating comes at a significant additional cost to the UK sheep industry and, in our letter to Mr Gove, we have asked for the UK Government to give domestic regulators greater flexibility in this area.”  


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Author: Bob Carruth

Date Published:

News Article No.: 02/18

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