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The European Union said Thursday it has ended a ban on using fish meal made from ground-up pigs or chickens introduced at the height of the 'Mad Cow' food scare, just as it fights the latest scandal over horsemeat being passed off as beef.
The European Commission said it had re-authorised the use of Processed Animal Proteins (PAPs) derived from non-ruminant farmed animals, in this case mainly pigs and poultry, in fish feed.
Their use was banned in 1997 for cattle, and from 2001 for all animals, as part of efforts to tackle the Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) or Mad Cow epidemic, caused when other ruminants, in this case sheep, were used in feed.
The Commission said the latest data showed that the EU is close to eradicating BSE in its cattle population while the latest scientific opinion indicates "that the risk of BSE transmission between non-ruminant animals is negligible provided that intra-species recycling (cannibalism) is prevented."
In the absence of PAPs, farmed fish had been fed meal based on other fish, a more expensive substitute.
The ban officially ends on June 1.
A statement added that the Commission, subject to testing, would in due course propose re-introducing the use of pig PAPs in feed for chickens and chicken PAPs in feed for pigs.
It stressed that it would not propose the re-authorisation of PAPs for feeding ruminant animals -- cattle, sheep or goats -- or to re-use ruminant PAPs for feeding non-ruminant farmed animals.