Last updated on 7 October 2004
Handling of reporting and publication of SRM breaches
At the Board meeting on 9 September 2004 the Chief Executive reported a breach of SRM controls at a slaughterhouse in Scotland. Some Board Members were concerned that details of the breach had still not been made public some four weeks after the initial finding and suggested a more rapid reporting mechanism.
Since April 2003 it has been the Agency's policy to report breaches of the TSE Regulations, principally the incomplete removal of specified risk material (SRM), usually bovine or sheep spinal cord in a monthly report published on the website.
Previously, to demonstrate the Agency's commitment to vigilance, protecting public health and openness breaches were reported by press release. Initially, these would sometimes attract a fair amount of media attention. This has dissipated, as this open approach has become embedded and the controls and the actual level of risk to public health etc. have become better understood.
Press releasing every breach is resource intensive. Given that there seemed to be public confidence in the Agency's vigilance and action and the limited media interest, it no longer seemed to be proportionate to undertake this exercise for every breach. In addition, during 2003 there were a significant number of breaches involving imported beef from intervention stocks, principally from Spain. The volume of these breaches made individual reporting by press release even more impractical.
The switch to monthly reporting was agreed by the Chairman and Chief Executive in April 2003. The first monthly web report appeared in May 2003. The monthly reports have still attracted media attention and reports of breaches have appeared in the national press from time to time.