June 29, 2011


Europe to raise cattle BSE testing age



The minimum age for BSE testing of healthy cattle killed for human consumption will be raised from 48 months to 72 months this Friday (Jun 30), following a risk assessment by the European Food Safety Authority in December 2010.


The change is subject to approval from government ministers in EU member states.


Ireland's Department of Agriculture estimates that farmers will save EUR1.7 million (US$2.4 million) a year in testing fees, which are currently EUR20 (US$29)/animal.


Minister Simon Coveney said that his Department was able to change the limit because of the significant fall in the number of BSE cases in Ireland since 2003, at only three cases so far this year, compared with 333 in 2002.


"The 72-month rule is a step in the right direction and should be followed by setting a specific birth date after which animals should no longer be tested," said the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association's chairman of the Beef and Cattle committee Kevin Connolly.


The current surveillance and age limits will remain in place for producers in Romania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland until there is better evidence of a decline in the number of BSE cases.

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