EFSA publishes Geographical BSE-Risk (GBR) assessments for Australia, Canada, Mexico, Norway, South Africa, Sweden and the United States of America

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has issued today seven up-to-date scientific reports on the Geographical Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) Risk (GBR) assessments for Australia, Canada, Mexico, Norway, South Africa Sweden and the United States of America. While Australia’s GBR level I (i.e. presence of BSE in domestic cattle is highly unlikely) is maintained, that of Norway has been raised to level II (presence of BSE unlikely but not excluded), Sweden remains at GBR level II and those of Canada and the United States have been raised to level III (presence of BSE likely but not confirmed, or confirmed at a lower level) following a new assessment taking into account the most recent evidence. EFSA’s Scientific Expert Working Group on geographic BSE risk assessment also evaluated the status of Mexico and South Africa which were classified as level III.

In 2003 EFSA was requested by the European Commission (EC) to re-assess the Geographical Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) risk (GBR) for 13 countries: Australia, Botswana, Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Namibia, Norway, Mexico, Panama, Swaziland, Sweden and the United States. Although the European Commission did not specifically seek advice from EFSA relating to the appearance of BSE in South Africa, the working group decided to carry out a risk assessment for this country under a self-tasking mandate in order to allow for a meaningful evaluation of the three other countries in the Southern African Region for which a GBR assessment was requested (i.e. Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland). EFSA’s Scientific Expert Working Group on the Assessment of the GBR has completed to date those assessments relating to Australia, Canada, Mexico, Norway, South Africa, Sweden and the United States of America. The GBR assessments for the remaining countries will be finalized by the end of 2004.

In conducting the GBR assessments, EFSA’s GBR working group followed the methodology developed by the former Scientific Steering Committee of DG Health and Consumer Safety (DG SANCO) of the European Commission which is described in its final opinion on GBR assessment . The risk assessments published today are based on up-to-date data provided by the countries concerned as well as other sources of data (i.e. Eurostat and country export data) covering the period of 1980 to 2003.

GBR level Presence of one or more cattle clinically or pre-clinically infected with the BSE agent in a geographical region/country GBR of the country/Region
Current status
(status before)
I Highly unlikely
 
Australia (I)
 
II Unlikely but not excluded
 
Norway (I), Sweden (II)
 
III Likely but not confirmed or confirmed at a lower level Canada (II), Mexico (N/A), South Africa (N/A), USA (II)
IV Confirmed at a higher level  

N/A= not applicable, i.e. not assessed before

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).  (PDF)

Updated opinion on the Geographical Risk of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (GBR) (adopted on 11 January 2002). (PDF)

Notes to editors

The 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.

The GBR assessments are based on information submitted by countries concerned in response to a European Commission recommendation in 1998 setting out the information requirements for such an assessment.2 The information concerns in particular imports of bovines and meat and bone meal (MBM) from the United Kingdom and other BSE-risk countries, rendering standards for animal by-products, use of so called Specified Risk Materials (SRMs), feeding of MBM to ruminants etcetera.

The table shows the current GBR levels of the seven countries assessed by EFSA so far, as well as their former classification where available.

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