EU asked EFSA to investigate
Controlling BSE in the EU is a ban on the use of animal proteins in livestock feed, because this is BSE can be transmitted to contaminated feed, mainly in the first year of life of the cattle.
BSE is reported for 60 cases in cattle born after the European Union decide the ban in 2001. None of these animals entered the food chain and classic BSE type is the type of BSE transion to humans. The European Commission asked EFSA to investigate and determine if these cases were caused by contaminated feed or whether by other reasons without an apparent cause.
EFSA experts concluded that contaminated feed is the most likely source of infection. This is 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 was present where feed was stored or handled. A second possibility is that contaminated feed ingredients may have been imported from non-EU countries.
Experts could not rule out other causes due to the difficulty of investigating individual cases. Some constraints are the long incubation period of the disease and the lack of detailed information available from farms at the time of the trace-back investigation.
The EU coordinated response to BSE has succeed to reduce the prevalence of the disease. Between 2005 and 2015 about 73 mill. cattle were tested in the European Union for BSE and of which 60 born after the ban were tested positive for BSE. The number of affected animals rises to 1,259 if cattle born before the ban are included. The number of BSE cases has dropped significantly in the EU over time, from 554 cases reported in 2005 to just two in 2015. So the food safety system of the European Union is designed to prevent that BSE-contaminated meat could enter the food chain.