Publication - Advice and guidance

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE): feed controls

Published: 29 Oct 2018

There are specific rules to prevent the spread of BSE and other TSEs through the use of animal by-products in animal feed.

29 Oct 2018
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE): feed controls

The BSE epidemic resulted from the feeding of cattle with mammalian meat and bone meal derived from cattle infected with BSE. Experiments have shown that as little as one thousandth of a gram of BSE-infected brain material is sufficient to infect a calf. Effective feed controls are key to the eradication of BSE.

With certain exceptions, it is illegal to feed animal proteins to farmed animals, and there are strict controls on the storage and use of pet food and fish meal on farms. There are authorisation and registration requirements to produce feed containing the following ingredients, or for farmers to use or store feed containing them:

  • fish meal
  • blood products
  • blood meal (only to be fed to farmed fish)
  • dicalcium phosphate or tricalcium phosphate

Feed mills, on-farm mixers or mobile mixers who wish to use the above ingredients to produce feed for non-ruminants such as pigs, poultry or farmed fish require authorisation.

Farmers who do not manufacture feed, but wish to use or store non-ruminant feedingstuffs containing the above ingredients, on farms where ruminant animals (such as cattle, goats or sheep) are also kept, require registration.

EU-wide feed controls

Regulation (EC) No.999/2001 introduced EU controls to combat the spread of BSE. The measures included a ban on the feeding of processed animal proteins to animals which are kept, fattened or bred for the production of food. Some of these measures have been amended in line with the European Commission's TSE Roadmap and further amendments are possible in the future. The Regulation is administered by the Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies Regulations.

Feed controls at a glance

Feed product


Non-ruminant farmed animals

Permitted animal proteins - milk, milk-based products and colostrum, eggs & egg products, gelatine from non-ruminants, hydrolysed proteins derived from non-ruminants or from ruminant hides and skins.

Permitted - subject to required sourcing and processing standards under animal by-product controls.

Permitted - subject to required sourcing and processing standards under animal by-product controls.

Prohibited processed animal protein (includes mammalian meat and bonemeal, meat meal, bone meal, hoof meal, horn meal, greaves, poultry meal, poultry offal meal, feather meal); gelatine from ruminants.

Banned (in addition to the restricted proteins listed below, and any animal protein not on the permitted list above)

Banned (unprocessed animal by-products are also banned from feeding to farmed animals under animal by-product controls)

Restricted proteins (i.e. restricted to non-ruminant feed use) - fishmeal; blood products; blood meal (only to be fed to farmed fish); di-calcium phosphate and tri-calcium phosphate (of animal origin only - not mineral).

Banned - except that fishmeal is permitted for use in milk replacer powder for unweaned ruminants - subject to authorisation to make milk replacer powder containing fishmeal for unweaned ruminants and registration to feed such milk replacer in liquid form to unweaned ruminants.

Permitted - subject to authorisation to make feed with these products or registration to use it in complete feed on farms where ruminants are present.