EFSA publishes a BSE/TSE risk assessment of the use of bovine dried blood products as an ingredient for feeds destined for farmed fish

EFSA has assessed the BSE/TSE related risk of bovine dried blood compounds if added as a protein supplement to feeds for farmed fish, a practice currently banned in the EU. EFSA’s Scientific Panel on Biological Hazards concluded that currently there is insufficient data to quantify the degree of BSE risk for animal or human health from feeding cattle blood products to farmed fish. In addition, the Panel said that, in line with a previous EFSA opinion from 2004,the practice of stunning and slaughtering cattle could also potentially result in small quantities of BSE infected material (brain particles) contaminating the blood collected.

The Panel noted that in line with another previous opinion on fishmeal there is only a remote risk of fish themselves contracting BSE through potentially BSE blood-contaminated feed. However, the Panel said that a human or animal health risk may arise if recycling of BSE-contaminated bovine blood into feed destined for cattle occurs directly (i.e. bovine blood products fed to cattle) or indirectly (i.e. fishmeal made from fish recently fed with BSE contaminated bovine blood given to cattle). Intraspecies recycling (e.g. cattle to cattle or sheep to sheep) of blood or other animal proteins is not permitted under EU law.

In addition, according to the Panel, there would be an undesired side effect from adding bovine blood to feed for fish, as this would potentially limit the suitability of current detection methods to distinguish between the blood and other prohibited bovine by-products in animal feeds, such as Specified Risk Materials (SRMs) which include cattle brain, spinal cord and other potentially BSE infectious tissues.

The request for this EFSA Opinion came from the European Commission, after the European Animal Protein Association prepared a report supporting the reintroduction of bovine spray dried red cells as an ingredient for feeds destined for farmed fish.

[1] BSE - Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy / TSE - Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies
[2] The Panel noted that although entitled “risk assessment of the use of bovine spray dried red cells in feeds for fish” that the blood compound would also include both white cells and platelets.
[3] Opinion of the Scientific Panel on biological hazards (BIOHAZ) on BSE risk from dissemination of brain particles in blood and carcass following stunning
[4] Fishmeal is a high protein supplement produced from the waste from fisheries of from fish not intended for human consumption. Under TSE controls, it is currently illegal in the EU to feed fishmeal to ruminants. An EFSA opinion on the TSE risk of feeding ruminants with fishmeal was adopted early this year: Scientific update on TSE risks of feeding ruminants with fishmeal
[5] Regulation (EC) 1774/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 October 2002 laying down health rules concerning animal by-products not intended for human consumption. Official Journal of the European Union 273: 1-95.