The European Commission has reduced the amount of specified risk material (SRM) that needs to be checked under its BSE testing regime.

Regulation (EC) 999/2001 lays down rules for the prevention, control and eradication of certain prion diseases that affect the nervous systems and brains of animals, including rules relating to the disposal of specified risk material (SRM).

The regulations to date have included three categories of bovine SRM:

(i) Skull, brain, eyes, spinal cord of animals aged over 12 months;
(ii) Vertebral column of animals aged over 30 months;
(iii) Tonsils, intestines, mesentery (all ages).

The latest ruling amended the definition of bovine SRM (tonsils, insetting and mesentery (all ages) to ‘the tonsils, the last four meters of the small intestine, the caecum and the mesentery of animals of all ages’.

The effect of this change, which applies in all Member States (regardless of BSE risk status) is to reduce the amount of bovine intestinal material which is classified as SRM. This will lead to savings in disposal costs and potential new market opportunities for the material concerned.

Meanwhile, the Commission has significantly reduced the list of SRMs derived from bovines in Member States which are classed as having negligible BSE risk – except in Ireland.

Under this Regulation, Points 1(a)(ii) and 1(a)(iii) are no longer included in the bovine SRM list outlined above, leaving Point 1(a)(i) as the reduced bovine SRM list. As Ireland has controlled risk BSE status the latter Regulation is not currently applicable here.