The rate of BSE cases in cattle being reported now is significantly lower than in 1988, when the disease was first made notifiable, and the number of new cases continues to decline.
The key factor behind this success has been the very high level of compliance with BSE-related feed controls throughout the feed manufacture, supply, and livestock industries. In addition, industry quality assurance schemes have considerably enhanced the level of compliance. Experiments show that doses of infected tissue as low as 1mg can infect a calf so there is a need for everyone involved in the feed chain to maintain the very high level of compliance seen to date.
In the UK, the original feed ban was introduced in 1988 to prevent ruminant protein being fed to ruminants. In addition, it has been illegal to feed ruminants with all forms of mammalian protein (with specific exceptions) since November 1994 and to feed any farmed livestock, including fish and horses, with mammalian meat and bone meal (mammalian MBM) since 04 April 1996.
EU-wide feed controls
Regulation (EC) No. 999/2001 introduced controls to combat the spread of BSE. The measures included a ban on the feeding of processed animal proteins to animals which are kept, fattened or bred for the production of food. Some of these measures have been amended in line with the European Commission's Road Map and further amendments are possible in the future.
The controls are currently implemented by the Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010.
Feed controls - at a glance
|Feed product||Ruminants||Non-ruminant farmed animals|
|Permitted animal proteins - Milk, milk-based products and colostrum, Eggs & egg products, Gelatine from non-ruminants, Hydrolysed proteins derived from non-ruminants or from ruminant hides and skins.||Permitted – subject to required sourcing and processing standards under Animal By-Product controls.||Permitted – subject to required sourcing and processing standards under Animal By-Product controls.|
|Prohibited processed animal protein (includes mammalian meat and bonemeal, meat meal, bone meal, hoof meal, horn meal, greaves, poultry meal, poultry offal meal, feather meal); Gelatine from ruminants.||Banned (In addition to the restricted proteins listed below, and any animal protein not on the permitted list above).||Banned (Unprocessed animal by- products are also banned from feeding to farmed animals under Animal By-Product controls).|
|Restricted proteins (i.e. restricted to non-ruminant feed use) Fishmeal; Blood products from non-ruminants; Blood meal from non-ruminants (only to be fed to farmed fish); Di-calcium phosphate and tri-calcium phosphate (of animal origin only – not mineral).||Banned.||Permitted – subject to authorisation to make feed with these products (Advice Note 2 of the Guidance Notes) or registration to use it in complete feed on farms where ruminants are present (see Advice Note 5 of the Guidance Notes).|