Geographical BSE Risk: EFSA consults on revision of assessment methodology

Today, EFSA’s Panel on Biological Hazards (BIOHAZ) launched a public consultation on a revision of the methodology for Geographical BSE-Risk (GBR) assessment. The European Commission uses this scientific advice as the basis for attributing BSE risk status to countries worldwide. The update takes account of new scientific knowledge on BSE and recent trends in BSE prevalence based on the most recent surveillance data. By allowing a more accurate assessment of geographical BSE risk, the revised methodology will assist risk managers in taking decisions to protect consumers which are commensurate with the risk identified.

Since 2003, EFSA is responsible for assessing Geographical BSE Risk, by which countries are classified according to their level of risk with respect to BSE. This work is fundamental for consumer protection and also has implications for global trade. EFSA has so far carried out GBRs for 19[1] countries, applying a methodology originally developed in 1998[2].

EFSA’s proposal to revise the methodology for assessing Geographical BSE risk includes innovations and changes at different levels. In particular, it takes account of:

  • predicted development of BSE risk over time (including a possible reduction of such risk);
  • steps taken by countries to control and reduce the risk of BSE;
  • data now available on the epidemiological surveillance of BSE in cattle since 2001 in all EU Member States:
  • the need not to overstate risk in countries with a low BSE prevalence but large cattle populations;
  • harmonisation with the guidelines of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

EFSA is consulting widely on its proposed approach to ensure the update is done openly and transparently and to allow input from all interested parties. Contributions can be made on the draft opinion until 14th January 2007.

Notes to editors

Geographical BSE-Risk (GBR) is a qualitative indicator of the likelihood of the presence of one or more cattle being infected with BSE, pre-clinically as well as clinically, at a given point in time, in a country. Where its presence is confirmed, the GBR gives an indication of the level of infection.

[1] Argentina, Australia, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Namibia, Nicaragua, Norway, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, South Africa (EFSA self task), Swaziland, Sweden, United States of America, and Uruguay.
[2] The methodology was originally developed by the Scientific Steering Committee (SSC) of the European Commission, and was subsequently revised in the following opinions:
- Preliminary-opinion on a method to assess the geographical BSE-Risk of Countries or Regions (adopted on 10 December 1998).
-Final opinion on the Geographical Risk of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (GBR) (adopted on 6 July 2000).
- Updated opinion on the Geographical Risk of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (GBR) (adopted on 11 January 2002).

Media contacts