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Disease - Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy - Guidance - Testing

BSE Surveillance Requirements

Fallen cattle aged over 48 months must be tested for BSE. Cattle keepers will need to make their own arrangements for the collection and disposal of fallen cattle that need to be tested for BSE.

Carcases must be taken to an approved sampling site. A list of approved sites is available on the Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA) website. Collectors should be aware of these sites. You can also check the list by ringing your local APHA Divisional Office.

The requirement to despatch bovine fallen stock aged over 48 months for BSE testing applies to all cattle keepers on the Scottish mainland and on the Isles of Bute and Skye.  If carcasses are unrecoverable, this must be reported to your local APHA office immediately.

BSE Surveillance on Scottish Islands for Fallen Stock

BSE surveillance are suspended on all islands except Bute and Skye and the freezer wagon collection service, or RPA appointed contractor, will no longer be available. Cattle keepers will need to make their own arrangements to dispose of fallen cattle locally.

A map has been prepared highlighting the Scottish islands which are exempt from the surveillance requirements - see link below.

Map of Scottish islands which are exempt from the surveillance requirements

On farm disposal (i.e. burial or open burning) of fallen adult cattle will be permitted, provided this is done in accordance with Section 10 of the PEPFAA Code (Prevention of Environmental Pollution From Agricultural Activity).

Cattle Slaughtered for Human Consumption

In GB, the requirement to test healthy slaughtered cattle for BSE ended on 1 March 2013. This applies to cattle born in EU Member States (except Bulgaria and Romania).

From 1 March 2013, the following cattle must still be tested for BSE:

  • Healthy cattle aged over 30 months slaughtered for human consumption which were born in Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and all non-EU countries;
  • Cattle sent for emergency slaughter, cattle which are identified as sick at ante-mortem inspection, and fallen stock, i.e. cattle which die or are killed other than for human consumption:
    • aged over 48 months if born in EU Member States (except Bulgaria and Romania); or
    • aged over 24 months if they were born in Romania, Bulgaria and all non-EU countries.

The method of processing BSE testing bovines for human consumption must still be documented in the “Required Method of Operation” (RMOP) document – an agreement between the Official Veterinarian and the Food Business Operator on the details of the slaughter process.

Existing agreed RMOPs will need to be revised to reflect the new requirements.

It is an offence to slaughter cattle that require BSE testing unless the FBO has an agreed RMOP. If there is no agreed RMOP in place, bovine animals that require BSE testing will not be allowed to enter the human food chain and must be disposed of by incineration as Category 1 animal by-products.

Abattoirs are encouraged to hold an approved RMOP if there is any chance that they might, occasionally, slaughter an animal which requires a BSE test.