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|Thursday, February 08, 2001, updated at 08:23(GMT+8)|
EU Approves New Measures to Control Mad Cow DiseaseThe European Commission on Wednesday approved new contingency measures aimed at combating mad cow disease, scientifically known as the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).
The commission, the executive body of the 15-nation European Union (EU), proposed three measures to combat BSE including compulsory removal of the vertebral column from all cattle over 12 months of age, keeping mechanically-recovered meat from all bones of ruminants from the food chain, and requirement of pressurized cooking to prepare animal fats from ruminants for food or feed.
The EU's standing veterinary committee is expected to discuss and decide on the new measures before instructing the EU member states to implement them.
"With today's proposals we add an additional layer of protection for consumers," said EU Consumer Protection Commissioner David Byrne. "If the ban on feeding mammalian meat and bone meal to ruminants is fully effective, if specific risk materials are being completely removed from carcasses and destroyed, if surveillance through testing is carried out effectively, BSE can be brought under control."
The EU, which started implementing two contingency measures earlier this year, has banned for six months until June 30 the use of animal feed made of cattle meat and cattle bone meal. It also started to buy and destroy cattle over 30 months of age unless they are screening tested to be BSE-free.
The specific risk materials like cattle brain, eye ball and vertebral cord are already banned for human or animal consumption in the EU.
Veterinarians and scientists are not yet sure what actually transfers the brain-wasting disease from cattle to cattle and from cattle to human beings.
Mad cow disease, which first popped up in the early 1980s in Britain, has so far spread to 11 of the 15 EU member states. A human variant of the disease, known as the Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, has claimed the lives of more than 80 people in Britain and two in France.
The EU is facing a beef market crisis, with the retail price of beef plummeting by more than a quarter while the sales of beef dropping about 30 percent, since diseased beef was found to have entered the market chain in France and new BSE cases found in Germany and Spain.
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