Estimating the impact on food and edible materials of changing scrapie control measures: the scrapie control model

Amie Adkin, Verity Horigan, Brenda Rajanayagam, Mark Arnold, Timm Konold, John Spiropoulos, Louise Kelly

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Multiple controls established during the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) epidemic were not solely applied to BSE in cattle, but were implemented for scrapie in sheep and goats due to concerns over the occurrence of BSE in sheep. In the absence of BSE in sheep being observed, control measures for prion diseases are now being evaluated to ensure they remain proportionate to risk. This risk assessment, aims to estimate, by use of stochastic simulation, the impact of reducing controls for Specified Risk Materials (SRM) from sheep at abattoir. Three scenarios have been included: 1) current list of SRM; 2) brain and spinal cord of adult sheep; and 3) the brain of adult sheep. Results indicate the total amount of infectivity passing through British abattoirs is highest for atypical scrapie with nearly 3,500,000 Ovine Oral (OO) ID50 per year. The majority of this infectivity enters Category 1 waste for incineration, with only 13,000 OO ID50 per year within edible products. Under Scenario 2, an additional 4,000 OO ID50 per year would be classified as edible products from the lifting of restrictions on the distal ileum of adult sheep. However, if SRM removal was limited to brain, an additional 110,000 OO ID50 per year would be permitted into edible products with the lifting of restrictions on the spinal cord of adult sheep. For classical scrapie, there is a mean estimate of infectivity of 30,000 OO ID50 per year at abattoir. This is lower than for atypical scrapie due to the lower occurrence of this disease in Britain. However, more infectivity is destined to reach the food chain as the disease is peripherally distributed in the carcase. The highest contributor to the total amount of infectivity consumed per year is the intestines (duodenum and jejunum). If SRM removal is limited to the brain and spinal cord of sheep over 12 months of age, there is an approximate mean increase from 19,000 to 21,000 OO ID50 per year diverted to edible products. If the SRM list is restricted to brain only, this increases to over 23,000 OO ID50 per year. For the potential of sheep-BSE, there is a very low estimate of 29 OO ID50 per year in total from carcases entering abattoir, due to the potential very rare occurrence of this disease. Given changes in SRM regulations there is a change of an additional 4 OO ID50 per year being diverted to edible products.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-64
Number of pages13
JournalPreventive Veterinary Medicine
Early online date6 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018


  • QRA
  • abattoir
  • prion protein
  • scrapie
  • specified risk materials

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