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Volume 491: debated on Wednesday 22 April 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent steps his Department has taken to reduce the incidence of bovine spongiform encephalopathy. (269113)

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) is a notifiable disease. The epidemic in Great Britain peaked with 37,056 clinical cases in 1992. In 2008 there were 33 BSE cases detected either as clinical cases or through the testing programme, a 38 per cent. decline compared to 2007. Most cases of BSE have been detected in cattle born before the animal feed controls were reinforced in 1996.

The ban on feeding ruminant meat and bone meal to ruminants is the key animal health control for BSE. In 2008, Animal Health carried out 2,322 feed inspections and collected 9,598 feed samples to enforce the ban in Great Britain. Animal Health continues to implement other BSE controls including the killing and disposal of animals which may have consumed the same feed as a BSE case and of the recent offspring of female BSE cases. The Food Standards Agency is responsible for ensuring the removal of specified risk material from the food chain, which is the key public health control for BSE.