July 3, 2007


EU to re-investigate BSE-related feed ban



The EU is conducting a 1.7 million euro- study that will determine whether using pig and chicken meal and other animal proteins for livestock -- which was banned in 2000 over heightened concern on bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)-- are now safe for human consumption.


According to the EU's advisory European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), new tests set up to confirm protein varieties contained in feed should effectively allow pig meal to be included in feed for chickens and vice versa. Members of the committee are now calling on the EU to step up the ongoing studies indicating that meal from non-ruminants can be used safely, and thus ensure the well-being of humans. The EESC is made up of representatives of employers' groups, trade unions and consumer organisations.


Philip Tod, spokesman for the European Commission, said despite the research into easing the ban, the "ban on cannibalism" will still be maintained. This means that pigs, for example, will be allowed to eat chicken meal, but not pig meal. Tod noted that the top priority is to maintain public health and food safety, stressing the research will be based upon "risk-based scientific evaluation".


A laboratory in Belgium specialising in animal proteins is heading the EU-funded project and is working with other European research institutes.


Meanwhile, the EESC said that, "The way in which proteins are identified, and the methods used to trace the meat meal in which they are found, must give consumers a cast-iron guarantee that pigs are fed on meat meal obtained exclusively from the by-products of poultry, and that poultry is fed on meat meal obtained exclusively from the by-products of pigs."


Easing the ban would change the costs of alternate feed and the disposal of animal carcasses as the restrictions has impacted production costs of consumers, said the EESC in a report.


Many consumers, however, are adamant on the lifting of the ban due to the destructive BSE effects. For instance, BSE spread when cattle were fed infected cattle remains in the UK. BSE can result to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

(vCJD) to people, a degenerative neurological disease that can be neither treated nor cured.

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