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Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs)

Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs)


Regulation (EC) No 999/2001 – rules for the prevention, control and eradication of certain transmissible spongiform encephalopathies



  • It sets out rules to prevent, control and eradicate transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs)*.
  • It covers the production, placing on the market and, in some cases, the export of animals and animal products.


The European Commission ranks EU countries or regions by their level of risk of bovine spongiform encephalopathies (BSE):

  • Level 1: negligible risk
  • Level 2: controlled risk
  • Level 3: undetermined risk

EU countries must put in place a monitoring programme, with screening for animals suspected of BSE or scrapie*. Rapid post-mortem screening must also be carried out.

Suspected animals and others on the holding cannot be moved until test results are known. If the animals may have been exposed elsewhere, other holdings may be monitored.

When a case is officially confirmed, the following measures are applied:

  • An inquiry into the origin of the disease and all potentially affected animals or products.
  • The affected holding is placed under official control. Any movement of susceptible animals (or animal products) must be authorised.
  • Killing and complete destruction of at-risk cattle. Different rules apply to sheep and goats.

Compensation is paid without delay for the loss of animals or animal products.

Risk reduction measures:

  • Feeding animal protein to ruminants is prohibited, as is feeding processed animal protein (such as gelatine and blood products) to any farm animal (with the exception of fur-producing carnivores such as mink).
  • Specific risk material must be removed from carcases, even in areas where there is negligible BSE risk. In areas of controlled or undetermined risk, bones from cattle, sheep or goats cannot be used for mechanically separated meat. There are specific methods for certain body parts such as head meat and tongue.
  • Animals for export or import must have health certificates. Similar rules apply to imports from non-EU countries, except those with negligible BSE risk.

Production and inspection workers must have basic training in TSEs.

To ensure uniform scientific analysis and reliable results, national and European reference laboratories must be designated.

EU countries must ensure that animals suspected of a TSE are notified to the authorities, and regularly inform each other and the Commission of such cases. They must also carry out frequent official inspections to check that rules are being observed.

Derogations from these rules may be granted to reflect new scientific knowledge.

A 2010 Commission Communication observes that the EU is close to eradicating BSE in cattle, but should continue monitoring in case it re-emerges.


It entered into force on 1 June 2001 and has applied from 1 July 2001.



*Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) are fatal diseases in which brain tissue degenerates, giving a sponge-like appearance.

They include:

  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in humans
  • Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle
  • Scrapie in small ruminants, such as sheep and goats.


Regulation (EC) No 999/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 laying down rules for the prevention, control and eradication of certain transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (OJ L 147, 31.5.2001, pp. 1–40)

The successive amendments and corrections to Regulation (EC) No 999/2001 have been incorporated into the basic text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.


Commission Decision 2002/1003/EC of 18 December 2002 laying down minimum requirements for a survey of prion protein genotypes of sheep breeds (OJ L 349, 24.12.2002, pp. 105–107)

Communication from the Commission: TSE Road map (COM(2005) 322 final of 15 July 2005)

Commission Decision 2007/453/EC of 29 June 2007 establishing the BSE status of Member States or third countries or regions thereof according to their BSE risk (OJ L 172, 30.6.2007, pp. 84–86). See consolidated version.

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council: The TSE Road map 2 – A Strategy paper on Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies for 2010-2015 (COM(2010) 384 final of 16 July 2010)

last update 15.02.2016