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Europe may loosen animal protein rule

A prairie livestock expert isn’t alarmed by a European Union proposal to resume feeding animal protein to non-ruminants.

Dr. Chris Clark of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon said the proposed changes to the ban on feeding processed animal protein to non-ruminants do not mean European meat and animals will be at greater risk of BSE.

The associate professor of large animal medicine stressed that in all studies done to date, BSE has never been successfully transmitted to poultry or swine, even after injecting them with massive doses.

Clark’s concern is with cross-contamination.

“Feed plants are big places and it’s the accidental exposure, things meant for pig feed getting put into feed for cattle and so on, that is more likely,” he said.

Feeding processed animal protein to cattle has been linked to the spread of BSE and its human variant Creuzfeldt- Jakob disease.

Clark said the use of animal protein could be a cost effective and environmentally sound practice if sufficient care is taken to avoid cross-contamination of feed.

Feeding animal protein to cattle, sheep and goats was banned in the EU in 1994. That ban extended to all farm animals in the EU in 2001.

The European Commission’s proposed changes were included in a planning report released in July.

It proposed lifting the ban on feeding animal protein to pigs and poultry.

“Amendments to the TSE rules are and will continue to be taken following a stepwise approach supported by a solid scientific basis,” said the report, called TSE Roadmap 2.

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