Smith Hails Good EU News On Beef

17 February 2011

SNP Member of the European Parliament Alyn Smith has today (Thursday) commended a decision to extend the BSE testing range for cattle from 48 months to 72 in Scotland and the UK.

The EU's Standing Committee on Food Chain and Animal Health (comically abbreviated to "SCoFCAH") composed of experts from each Member State has analysed the evidence and agreed to raise the testing age, which will come into effect from July this year, assuming the European Parliament approves the move. Smith committed himself to continue to promote rational science-based legislation as this comes forward.

This move, while not unexpected, is welcome progress on the European Commission's "TSE Roadmap", a plan to update the legislation around TSEs as the science evolves. Smith hosted a meeting last week in Brussels with the National Sheep Association and Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers looking for similar progress on sheep, and met with a positive response. Smith has since written to the European Food Safety Agency and the UK TSE reference laboratory in Weybridge seeking some new impetus in the science.

Smith said:

"This is good news, solid and sensible, and will see more legislative costs squeezed out of the food chain. Clearly, the legislation is there for a very good reason, but it has to be proportionate to the risk and this is a sensible move.

"We're seeing some movement on sheep as well, and I have urged EFSA to take a more vigorous look at the science over TSEs in sheep as I suspect that as we are seeing progress on the bovine sector, so too will the data from sheep show a similar encouraging trend, and this too should be reflected in amended legislation. I will continue to press this case, and am glad of the support I've had from farming and trade organisations back home."