The Food Standards Agency has recommended to the government that an effective system to test cattle aged over 30 months (OTM) for BSE before they enter the food chain has been developed.

Last December the government said in principle that the current rule excluding older cattle from the food chain could be replaced with a system by which animals are tested and then allowed to enter the food chain if the tests are negative.

The FSA was asked to advise the government whether a testing system had been developed and yesterday ruled that it had.

FSA chair, Deirdre Hutton, said: “We have agreed today that a reliable BSE testing regime for OTM cattle has been successfully designed and trialed. However, we have also agreed to advise ministers that the FSA considers that a number of measures need to be finalised to ensure that the new system will be effectively supported.”