Brussels officials should heed the science before banning British mince.

That was the message as representatives from the UK meat industry and food safety bodies met in London on Thursday (3 April) to work out how to convince the EU Commission not to ban one of the UK’s staple foods: high quality mince made from mature meat.

New European Food Hygiene regulations stipulate that minced meat must be prepared within no more than six days of slaughter.

The rules are designed to protect consumers of raw mince in the form of steak tartare, but disregard the British tradition of more mature meat, hung for up to 28 days, which is only eaten once it has been cooked.

Eating mince

Proposals for a UK derogation have so far been dismissed by Brussels.

Speaking after the meeting, NFU Scotland livestock policy manager, Penny Johnston said: “We have the backing of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) that our mince is safe to eat and those present at the meeting agreed that we should gather and present to the EU Commission scientific evidence proving that is the case.

“We shall follow this up with an official submission from the FSA. It appears we have European backing, notably from the European Meat and Livestock Trading Union, which should strengthen our hand.

“Former EU health commissioner, Markos Kyprianou, who presided over the regulations, is likely to be replaced by Androula Vassiliou who, in her official hearing with MEPs, said she would produce legislation based on the best scientific advice.

“We hope very much that she makes good her word to do this and allow the people of Scotland to carry on making stovies and mince and tatties as they have done since time immemorial.”