Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE): feed controls

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

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

  Farmed animals other than fur animals Pets and fur animals
Ruminants Non-ruminants (except fish) Fish
Ruminant PAP, including ruminant blood meal NA NA NA A
Non-ruminant PAP, including non-ruminant blood meal and insect PAP, but excluding fishmeal NA NA A A
Blood products from ruminants NA NA NA A
Gelatine and collagen from ruminants NA NA NA A
Hydrolysed proteins other than those derived from non-ruminants or from ruminant hides and skins NA NA NA A
Fishmeal NA* A A A
Blood products from non-ruminants NA A A A
Di and tricalcium phosphate of animal origin NA A A A
Hydrolysed proteins from non-ruminants or from ruminant hides and skins A A A A
Gelatine and collagen from non-ruminants A A A A
Egg, egg products, milk, milk products, colostrum A A A A
Animal proteins other than the above mentioned ones NA A A A

* Milk replacers containing fishmeal and intended only for unweaned ruminants are authorised.


Ruminants: cattle, sheep, goats
Non-ruminant animals: poultry, fish, pigs 

PAP: processed animal protein, also referred to as 'meat and bone meal', high protein feedstuff derived from animals at rendering

A: allowed
NA: not allowed

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