DEFRA continues to press the EU Commission to raise the age at which the vertebral column has to be removed from cattle carcasses before going to the point of sale.

Current UK rules mean that the column only has to be removed from cattle over 30 months of age.

But once full export status is resumed, following the end of the Date-Based Export Scheme, the UK will have to comply with EU regulations.

These require the vertebral column to be removed from all cattle over 12 months of age, though the EU has recently proposed raising this to 24 months.

DEFRA officials are seeking derogation from the EU to allow fresh beef from cattle aged under 30 months to be sold on the bone.

The removal of the vertebral column would effectively return Britain to the days of the beef on the bone ban.

It would end sales of T-bone steaks, while ribs of beef would only contain partial amounts of bone.

A spokesman for the Meat and Livestock Commission said: “We are confident that the UK government will succeed should it continue its current push and maintain the backing of other member states”.


Emergency slaughter

Livestock and dairy farmers are also having to get used to new rules governing the emergency slaughter of cattle on farms.

Leaflets have been circulated to farmers during October explaining that only healthy animals that have suffered an accident on farms and are unable to be transported to an abattoir will be eligible for the food chain.

They must be accompanied by a veterinary declaration.

The new guidance has been issued as most animals involved in such accidents tend to be over 30 months, which are about to be readmitted to the food chain for the first time in 10 years.