Last updated on 23 February 2010
Cow aged over 48 months enters food supply without being tested for BSE
The Agency has been notified that meat from a cow aged over 48 months has entered the food supply without being tested for BSE.
It is very unlikely that the cow was infected with BSE and, as specified risk material (SRM) was removed, any risk to human health is extremely low. However, testing is mandatory for cattle slaughtered for human consumption at over 48 months of age.
The cow was slaughtered at Pickstock Ashby Ltd’s abattoir in Hartshorne, Derbyshire, on 4 November 2009 aged almost 57 months. The failure was discovered on 28 January during routine cross checks of slaughter and BSE test data. By the time the failure was discovered all of the affected carcasses and offal had left the premises.
The affected carcasses, some edible co-products and offal had been exported. Some meat returned to Britain after processing and some went to other countries. Other edible co-products remained in Britain. Subsequent checks indicate that all of the meat and edible co-product that remained in Britain or that returned to Britain is no longer in the food supply chain. The authorities in the countries that received the exported material have been informed.
Background to BSE testing
The BSE testing age was raised to 48 months at the beginning of last year. Cattle aged over 48 months are allowed to enter the food supply provided they have tested negative for BSE. If there is no BSE test, all parts of the carcase must be condemned.
Specified risk material (SRM) is those parts of the animal that contain almost all BSE infectivity, if the animal is infected with BSE.