Proposed Amendments to the Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (Scotland) Regulations 2006 (as amended)
Monday 29 October 2007
Following the recent amendments to Schedule 6 of the above Regulations, the Agency seeks your views and comments on further proposed amendments to the regulations.
All comments and views should be sent to:
Animal Food Chain and Novel Foods Branch
Food Standards Agency Scotland
6th Floor, St. Magnus House
25 Guild Street
Aberdeen AB11 6NJ
Tel: 01224 285164
Fax: 01224 285168
Responses are requested by: 21 December 2007
The key proposals are:
- changes arising from the Commission's proposal to increase the age at which bovine vertebral column (VC) is classified as specified risk material (SRM)
- revocation of the Beef Bones Regulations 1999
- introduction of a provision to allow enforcement of European Union (EU) rules on trade
- changes to Schedule 7 to correct references to EU legislation
The draft Regulation incorporates the changes required to implement the proposals set out above.
Regulation 999/2001 (as amended) of the European Parliament and of the Council (Community TSE Regulations) lays down the rules for prevention, control and eradication of certain transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) and forms the legal basis for the domestic TSE Regulations which are the subject of this consultation.
Details of the proposal to increase the age at which bovine VC is classified as SRM
Currently under the Community TSE Regulations, the vertebral column of bovine animals older than 24 months at slaughter is designated SRM and must be removed and destroyed. This requirement is implemented in Scotland by the current domestic regulations.
In May 2006, when the UK attained the same moderate BSE/controlled risk status as other Member States, SRM controls in the UK were brought in line with those applicable in other Member States. Prior to that time, the UK had a derogation to classify VC as SRM only in bovine animals over 30 months of age at slaughter. This meant that when the controls were harmonised the VC age limit changed from 30 months to 24 months.
As part of the EU TSE road map, which aims to maintain a high level of consumer protection while keeping SRM controls proportionate to risk, based on new or evolving scientific knowledge, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Biohazard Panel published an opinion in May 2007 in which the risk assessment provided evidence to support a change in the age limit for bovine VC. Following the publication of this opinion the European Commission put forward a proposal to change the age limit from 24 to 30 months to the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH). The proposal was unanimously voted through on 3 October. The proposal is now subject to a three-month scrutiny period by the European Parliament and Council.
The Agency is consulting on this proposal at this early stage so that if the scrutiny process has a positive result, we can implement the change as soon as possible after it comes into force under EU legislation.
If this proposal is implemented, the current requirement for butchers to be authorised to remove VC SRM would no longer be applicable because 24-30 month VC would no longer be SRM. In addition, there would be unlimited movement of bone-in bovine carcases from animals up to 30 months of age therefore allowing for greater flexibility of trade and consumer choice. There would, however, be no change to the requirements in relation to carcases of animals aged over 30 months at slaughter: VC from these animals would still need to be removed at specifically authorised cutting plants and disposed of as SRM. The additional risk to consumers from the proposal remains negligible.
Proposal to revoke the Beef Bones Regulations 1999
The Beef Bones Regulations 1999 impose a ban on the use of UK sourced beef bones in food manufacturing. The ban is the last remaining piece of national legislation introduced to protect consumers from BSE risk before the EU-wide legislation was adopted in 2001. The ban goes beyond the measures required under EU law and can no longer be considered to make a significant contribution to public health protection.
Further background information, including an outline of the risk considerations and a summary of the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC)'s views on beef bones, is set out in the accompanying document.
If this proposal is implemented, the manufacturing ban on the use of UK beef bones would no longer apply.
Details of proposal on EU rules on trade
The prohibition on the dispatch of heads or fresh meat of bovine, ovine or caprine animals containing specified risk material, has been retained in Annex V of Regulation (EC) No.999/2001. Although provision for this prohibition in relation to dispatch to third countries is included in Schedule 7 of the current domestic Regulations, provision for the prohibition in relation to trade in heads or un-split carcases containing specified risk material between Member States is not. It is, therefore, now to be added to Schedule 6 of the proposed amending legislation.
The effect of this proposal is that businesses must obtain the agreement of receiving Member States, through the FSA, before the dispatch of heads or un-split carcases of bovine, ovine and caprine animals containing specified risk material. However, businesses can continue to dispatch carcases, half carcases or half carcases cut into no more than three wholesale cuts and quarters containing VC SRM (from over 30 months animals) including dorsal root ganglia to Member States without such agreement.
Details of amendment to Schedule 7
Paragraph 2 of Schedule 7 is being updated to refer to the new Annex V of the Community Regulations.
Impact of the proposals
Although the change to the age limit for classifying bovine VC as SRM will have a positive impact on the industry, and we believe the other proposed changes will have little practical effect on businesses and other stakeholders, we would still welcome stakeholder views and evidence of impact.
Specific questions on the impact of the proposals
Do any of the changes have any potential financial impact (whether a cost or saving) on your business or the meat/food industry as a whole? If so, please provide details.
Are the proposals to be welcomed? Are there alternative approaches that you would propose?
What are the likely benefits or drawbacks of these proposals in food safety risk terms?
Do you consider there is any justification for retaining the ban on the use of UK beef bones?
What are the benefits of removing the ban on the use of UK beef bones?
Are there other issues in relation to TSEs we should be addressing?
This consultation has been prepared in accordance with the HM Government Code of Practice on Consultation, which states that a consultation must follow better regulation best practice, including carrying out an Impact Assessment (Regulatory Impact Assessment in Scotland). The assessment is included in the consultation documents.
We are interested in what you thought of this consultation and would therefore welcome your general feedback on both the consultation package and overall consultation process. If you would like to assist us to improve the quality of future consultations, please feel free to share your thoughts with us by using the consultation feedback questionnaire.
Publication of personal data and confidentiality of responses
In accordance with the FSA principle of openness our Information Centre at Aviation House will hold a copy of the completed consultation. The FSA will publish a summary of responses, which may include personal data, such as your full name. Disclosure of any other personal data would be made only upon request for the full consultation responses. If you do not want this information to be released, please complete and return the Publication of Personal Data Form. Return of this form does not mean that we will treat your response to the consultation as confidential, just your personal data.
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