Road Map Opportunity to Strip Out Livestock Costs

NFU Scotland has welcomed the publication of a second European Road Map that offers several new opportunities to strip out some of the costs to Scotland’s livestock sector associated with eradicating Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE).

The publication of the TSE Road Map 2 recognises the success throughout Europe in combating all Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs), such as BSE in cattle or Scrapie in sheep and goats.  That success allows the EU to contemplate changes in some of its testing and monitoring rules and could remove many of the associated costs to the livestock industry.

NFU Scotland Vice-President, Nigel Miller said:

“A decade ago, BSE continued to cast a huge shadow over beef production in Scotland, the rest of the UK and throughout Europe.  In addition, Scrapie in sheep flocks required to be addressed.  The measures put in place at that time tackled the disease threat on farm and, more importantly, helped to reassure those consuming beef and lamb that the food was safe.

“The first TSE Road Map, brought in 2005, started the process of proportionately unwinding some of the testing and monitoring for TSEs that was taking place on farm and in abattoirs.   Such has been the success in eradicating these diseases, that Europe finds itself in the position of contemplating further reductions in the relevant rules and regulations.

“This new Road Map, to run between 2010 and 2015, has the potential to recognise the huge improvements in the disease situation and strip out much of the cost associated with TSEs.   There would be an immediate benefit to the industry if the age at which cattle entering the food chain require BSE testing were to be increased from its current level of 48 months. At the same time, any opportunity to reduce the cost burden associated with the disposal of Specified Risk Material (SRM) would be welcome. 

“A priority for NFU Scotland would be to achieve changes to the rules that still require older sheep carcasses to go through the costly process of being split to remove the spinal cord.  On going disease surveillance has shown the national flock to have a high health status in TSE terms so there is little justification for carcass splitting to be retained.”

Notes to editors

  • European Commission has adopted a Communication to the European Parliament and the Council, which outlines areas where future possible changes to EU TSE-related measures could be made. The document –"The TSE Road Map 2 – A strategy paper on Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies for 2010-2015" – underlines that any amendment should maintain the EU's high level of protection of human and animal health and of food safety and should be backed by solid science.
  • The Road Map identifies six areas where changes to the current TSE measures could be made in the future:
    • Specified Risk Materials (SRMs – i.e. organs that could harbour BSE infectivity): The EU SRMs list could be aligned with the international standards of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).
    • The feed ban: A certain tolerance level of processed animal proteins (PAP) could be introduced; provisions banning the use of certain PAP for animals such as pigs, poultry and fish (i.e. non-ruminants) could be removed without lifting the prohibition on intra species recycling (e.g. poultry meal could be fed to pigs and pig meal to poultry but not pig meal to pigs).
    • Surveillance: The monitoring system could be better targeted by increasing gradually the testing age limits, or through various testing methods.
    • Scrapie eradication measures: These could be brought in line with the latest scientific information, which could mean – among other things – adapting measures for atypical Scrapie if data confirms that this Scrapie strain is not contagious or continuing to encourage genetic control of the disease in sheep through breeding programmes.
    • Cohort culling: As the number of BSE-positive animals has dropped to zero in 2009, the systematic cohort culling of cattle could be stopped and animals could be sold for consumption provided they are tested with negative results before entering the food chain.
    • Ante-mortem and post-mortem tests: If ante-mortem tests become available the testing of live animals could be an option. This could be particularly helpful for herd or flock certification purposes.


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006


Date Published:

News Article No.: 109/10

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