To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the purpose of the European Regulations ((EC) 999/2001) requiring the removal of the spinal cords of sheep, in light of the estimate from the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee that “the prevalence of BSE in the United Kingdom sheep flock may be zero and in the worse case no more than 10 flocks would be affected”; and what assessment they have made of the continuing impact of those regulations on the sheep farming industry. [HL4322]
Under directly-applicable EC law, specified risk material (SRM) controls apply to sheep on a precautionary basis. The Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee has also advised that the maintenance of current risk reduction measures such as the removal of SRM would minimise the risk to human health should bovine spongiform encephalopathy enter the sheep flock. In addition, a possible human health risk from atypical scrapie cannot be ruled out, so for these reasons precautionary controls in sheep remain in place.
The Food Standards Agency advises that, at a meeting with the sheep farming industry in February 2009 to discuss the impact of these regulations, the industry undertook to produce an economic impact assessment of the regulations, the results of which are awaited.