Meat could once again be fed to animals under plans to relax rules introduced to prevent the transmission of BSE.
The European Commission has published proposals to reduce the cost of guarding against BSE and its human form, new variant Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease, which has claimed the lives of more than 200 people of which 169 in the United Kingdom alone.
The European Commission said it wished to downgrade rules because of the disease’s decline, and so it could concentrate on other conditions such as a salmonella and antimicrobial resistance that posed a greater threat to human health.
The plans are set out in a document circulated to EU states, TSE Roadmap 2 – named after Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies, the group of brain diseases that includes bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).
Although tentative, an end to the feed ban could be controversial because feed was the source of the crisis: cattle contracted BSE after consuming infected proteins from sheep that had died of a related disease, scrapie.
The EC said it might then be possible to feed MBM from non-ruminants such as pigs and chickens to other non-ruminants. As such, MBM from pigs could be fed to poultry and vice versa.
“Considering that the transmission risk of BSE from non-ruminants to non-ruminants is very unlikely, a lifting of the ban on the use of Processed Animal Protein from non-ruminants in non-ruminant feed could be considered, but without lifting the existing prohibition on intraspecies recycling,” the EC said.
The European Commission said the prevention of risk should be maintained or increased under the changes. It added: “It is impossible, however, to consider the complete elimination of risk as a realistic objective for any risk management decision in matters regarding food safety, where the cost and benefits of risk-reducing measures have to be carefully weighed in order to ensure the measure’s proportionality.”