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Changes to Sheep Ageing for SRM Removal

Changes to Sheep Ageing for SRM Removal

On 30 July 2018, amendments to EU TSE legislation came into force, relaxing Specified Risk Material (SRM) controls on small ruminants, giving Member States more flexibility in determining the ages of sheep at slaughter for the purposes of SRM removal. The amendment for determining the ages of sheep at slaughter originated from a proposal submitted by the UK sheep farming industry to the Commission in 2016 which proposed that all sheep born after a “cut-off” date of 31 May should be considered as aged over 12 months and therefore requiring SRM removal. However, during further discussions industry indicated that they would prefer an annual cut-off date of 30 June. A further risk assessment of this proposed change concluded that there was little difference between using an end May or end June cut-off date and this has now been agreed by Ministers in England and Wales.  

The Food Standards Agency will now work with interested parties to agree the practical details of implementing the system of ageing sheep by cut-off date in abattoirs, in time for the 2019 spring lambing season. The new system of ageing sheep will apply to all sales in spring 2019, and not only to spring lambs: old season lambs (i.e. lambs born in 2018 that are sold in 2019) will also be covered by the system. Dentition checks will remain an alternative method of ageing, which can be used in parallel.

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