Two untested heifers aged over thirty months enter food supply

The Agency has been notified that two heifers aged over thirty months (OTM) have, in separate incidents, entered the food supply without being tested for BSE. As specified risk material (SRM)
was removed in both cases, and it is unlikely that the heifers were infected with BSE, any risk to human health is extremely low.

However, testing is mandatory for cattle slaughtered for human consumption at over thirty months of age.

The first heifer was slaughtered on 7 September at R W Newman & Partners abattoir, Farnborough, Hampshire aged three days over thirty months.

The error was discovered by the MHS on 8 November in the course of routine, cross-checks of slaughter and test data. By then, all the meat (including that from the cattle slaughtered one before
and two after) had left the premises and subsequent checks indicate that the affected meat is no longer in the food supply chain.

The second heifer was slaughtered on 10 September at H J Hellett & Sons abattoir, Kimbolton, Cambridgeshire aged three days over thirty months.

Again the error was discovered by the MHS on 8 November in the course of routine, cross-checks of slaughter and test data. By then, all the meat had been returned to the owner for domestic
consumption and had already been eaten. Additional checks indicate that the meat from the cattle slaughtered one before and two after the untested OTM heifer had been sold to the final consumer
by the time the error came to light.

A full investigation into the circumstances of both incidents is under way.

Background to BSE testing
■ OTM cattle are allowed to enter the food supply provided they have tested negative for BSE. If there is no
negative test result, the OTM carcass, plus the one before and two after on the slaughter line, must be condemned.
■ Since 7 November 2005, when the previous ban on OTM cattle was replaced by BSE testing, over 850,000 OTM cattle have been slaughtered in the UK for
human consumption.
■ These are the sixth and seventh untested OTM cattle that the Agency is aware have entered the food supply.
■ Specified risk material is those parts of the animal that contain almost all BSE infectivity, if the animal is infected with BSE.

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