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Contaminated feed ‘most likely source’ of BSE infection
EFSA concluded that contaminated feed is the most likely source of infection
Isolated cases still being reported across the EU

Food safety experts have confirmed that exposure to feed contaminated with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) is the most likely reason why isolated cases of the disease are still being reported in the EU.

Between 2005 and 2015, some 73 million cattle were tested for BSE in the EU, of which 1,259 tested positive for classical BSE. Of these, 60 were born after 2001, when the EU implemented a ban on the use of animal proteins in livestock feed.

The European Commission asked the European Food Standards Agency (EFSA) to investigate the origin of these cases to see if they were caused by contaminated feed, or whether they occurred spontaneously.

EFSA concluded that contaminated feed is the most likely source of infection, because the infectious agent that causes BSE has the ability to remain active for many years.

“Cattle may have been exposed to contaminated feed because the BSE infectious agent as present where feed was stored or handled,” it said in a statement.  “A second possibility is that contaminated feed ingredients may have been imported from non-EU countries.”

Due the the difficulty of investigating individual cases, experts could not rule out other causes. Some constraints are the long incubation period of the disease and the lack of detailed information from farms at the time of the investigation.

In its report, EFSA makes a series of recommendations to maintain and strengthen the EU monitoring and reporting system, and to evaluate new scientific data that become available.

It notes that the number of classical BSE cases has dropped significantly in the EU over time, from 554 cases reported in 2005 to just two in 2015 (born after the ban).

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UK a step closer to ivory ban

News Story 1
 A UK ban on ivory sales is one step closer to coming into force, as the government has introduced the Ivory Bill to parliament. The ban covers items of all ages, rather than just ivory carved after 1947. Anyone breaching the ban will face an unlimited fine or up to five years in jail.

Conservationists have welcomed the bill, which comes less than six weeks after the government published the results of a consultation on this issue. Around 55 African elephants are now slaughtered for their ivory every day and the illegal wildlife trade is estimated to be worth £17 billion a year.  

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News Shorts
Strategic alliance to support development of agri-food sector

The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and Queen’s University Belfast have formed a new strategic alliance that will see both institutions form a research and education partnership.

Under the agreement, the organisations will pool their resources and expertise to support the development of the agri-food sector. It will work across three core themes: enabling innovation, facilitating new ways of working and partnerships.