An important area of change relates to feed controls. These controls are being updated in line with EU legislation and will help clarify the scope of some existing controls in domestic legislation.
The consultation document also seeks views on the rationalization of appeals procedures.
It also seeks feedback on entitlement to compensation where TSE-susceptible animals are slaughtered following exposure to a TSE through a breach of the feed ban or where a BSE brain stem sample is untestable, for example because the sample has not been taken properly.
In both cases, the appeals procedure can be used where compensation is denied.
Defra is also proposing a new offence that will in future make it illegal for anyone to send cattle born before August 1996 to a slaughterhouse for slaughter for human consumption.
This proposal is intended to strengthen controls to ensure that, when the Over Thirty Month (OTM) rule is replaced by testing for cattle born after July 1996, any cattle born before August 1996 remain excluded from the food chain.
The timing of any changeover from the OTM rule to a testing system is
dependent on the Food Standards Agency (FSA) advising ministers that the proposed testing regime is robust and on ministers accepting that advice.
The new offence is intended to deter anyone from sending cattle born before August 1996 to abattoirs slaughtering cattle for human consumption.
The maximum sentence for those found guilty could be an unlimited fine and up to two years in prison. It will continue to be an offence for abattoirs to sell meat from over-age cattle for human consumption.
Food and farming minister, Ben Bradshaw, said: "We have worked closely with the Food Standards Agency to ensure that cattle born before August 1996 will remain outside the human food chain, in the event that the Government agrees to a change to the OTM rule later this year.
"This proposal will send a message that the Government is serious about preventing older cattle from reaching the food chain.
"The new offence would complement the age identification checks at the abattoir which are the responsibility of the abattoir operator. The Meat Hygiene Service will continue to check on the age of cattle being slaughtered for human consumption."