Collagen Casings

Safety of Collagen

All CCTA members source their collagen raw material for casings from animal hides only.  This is predominantly bovine hide, although some porcine hide is also used.

Concerns about the risk to human health prompted by the issue of BSE in cattle have seen a proliferation of worldwide legislation.  The subsequent risk management imposed has been extremely effective in reducing the global incidence of BSE.

In addition to this, independent scientific research and analysis have resulted in bovine skin collagen being listed as a tissue free of BSE agent.  Supporting documentation can be found as follows:

1.  The Opinion And Report On Safety With Respect To TSE Risks Of Collagen Produced From Ruminant Hides was adopted by the European Commission Scientific Steering Committee at its meeting of 10-11 May 2001.  This report concluded that "on the basis of current knowledge it can be considered that the parts of ruminant hides used for the production of collagen do not present a risk with regard to TSE's - - - - "

2. The OIE (Office International des Epizooties - World Veterinary ORganisation for Animal Health) have a chapter on BSE in their International Health Code. It states that "when authorising import or transit of the following commodities and any products made from these commodities and containing no other tissue from cattle, Veterinary Administration should not require any BSE related conditions, regardless of the BSE risk status of the cattle population of the exporting country, zone or compartment - - - (c) hides and skins - - - (d) collagen prepared exclusively from hides and skins".

3.  A report of a WHO (World Health Organisation) consultation on medicinal and other products in relation to human and animal Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies, commissioned to categorise infectivity in bovine tissues, placed bovine skin collagen into "Category IV" with "no detectable infectivity".[WHO/EMC/ZOO/97.3]

4.  An Opinion Of The Scientific Panel On Biological Hazards Of The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) On The BSE Risk From Cohort Animals: Bovine Hides And Skins For Technical Purposes, adopted on 18 May 2006, confirmed that "so far infectivity has never been found in cattle hides".

These reports establish that bovine skin collagen used for the manufacture of edible collagen casings is intrinsically safe, irrespective of the BSE status of the animal.

In addition to this:

  • All countries in which CCTA members manufacture have appropriate measures in place to ensure that diseased cattle do not enter the food chain.
  • The manufacturing process for collagen casings incorporates processing steps which would destroy any BSE infection, even if it were present.
  • Pork collagen does not suffer from BSE.
It is therefore safe to conclude that there is no food risk from collagen casings.