Over Thirty Months review archive
The Over Thirty Months (OTM) Rule was the BSE control set up in 1996 that automatically banned older cattle from entering the human food chain. It was one of the two key food safety controls in relation to BSE operated in the UK – the main control being the Specified Risk Material (SRM) control.
On 1 December 2004 Ministers announced the start of a managed transition towards the lifting of the OTM Rule following advice from the Food Standards Agency that the then current control measures were no longer proportionate to the risk.
On 15 August 2005 the Agency’s Board agreed to advise Ministers that an effective system had been developed to test OTM cattle for BSE before they enter the food chain.
On 15 September 2005, the Government announced that it was to replace the OTM Rule with BSE testing, Ministers also agreed to a number of pre-conditions set by the Food Standards Agency to ensure continued consumer protection during implementation.
On 7 November 2005 the new BSE Testing System for older cattle came into force, replacing the OTM Rule. It means that cattle aged over thirty months are now able to enter the food chain, but only if they have tested negative for BSE.
The primary BSE control, the SRM control, which removes more than 99% of any infectivity that may be present, remains in place.
The Agency reviewed the Rule to see whether a ban on sale for consumption of OTM meat was still appropriate in the light of the decline in the BSE epidemic.
It was assisted in the review by two committees – a joint SEAC/FSA risk assessment group and a core stakeholder group representing a range of stakeholders including the farming and meat industries and consumers.