6 March 2001
Abattoirs carry on importing

By Alistair Driver

SOME of Britains biggest abattoirs say they will continue importing meat rather than return to killing UK livestock as foot-and-mouth restrictions are eased.

Just 42 out of 200 approved abattoirs had killed livestock under a government scheme to get meat back on to shop shelves by 0700hrs on Tuesday (6 March).

The scheme allows livestock from areas unaffected by foot-and-mouth to be slaughtered for human consumption without a veterinary inspection.

But the British Meat Federation, which represents big abattoirs, said members were worried that British livestock had not been properly checked for the disease.

BMF director general Peter Scott told FARMERS WEEKLY: “If disease is found in the lairage, plants will be closed down for an unspecified period.”

Mr Scott said abattoirs also faced additional costs because of the need to disinfect each vehicle on the premises and the extra inspections involved.

Some larger abattoirs that had already been approved to slaughter animals under the scheme may still decide not to take stock from UK farmers, he said.

Mr Scott said: “Abattoirs have to ask is it worth it?” This was particularly true of abattoirs with readily available supplies of meat from abroad, he added.

Junior agricultural minister Baroness Hayman said farmers should be able to take livestock to collection centres as well as direct to abattoirs from next week.

The collection centres, such as designated livestock markets, will benefit farmers who want to slaughter a small number of cattle and sheep, she said.

Pigs, however, must continue to go direct to slaughter.

Baroness Hayman said it had not been decided whether resources would allow there to be veterinary inspections at collection centres.

Abattoirs might want veterinary inspection, but it was unclear who would pay, the Baroness told journalists at a press briefing in London.

Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks
Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage