16 March 2001

Anger at discovery of spinal cords

BEEF carcasses with the spinal cord still attached continue to reach British cutting halls prompting an angry outburst from NFU president Ben Gill.

The latest incident involved a consignment of 268 quarters from the Fribin SAT abattoir at Binepar in Spain, two of which were contaminated.

The offending quarters have been quarantined, though the rest of the meat has gone on into the human food chain.

"This situation is fast reaching farcical proportions," said Mr Gill. "Exports of beef from countries which cannot enforce the BSE regulations must be banned by the European commission. It is as simple as that."

The latest discovery follows another incident last week, when two contaminated forequarters were discovered in Dundee in a consignment from the Giresa Palencia plant in Spain.

Spinal cord is supposed to be removed at the abattoir, under EU-wide SRM controls introduced last October.

But the UK Meat Hygiene Service has uncovered repeated abuses, including six by Germany, two by the Netherlands and now two by Spain.

The EU Commission has written warning letters to the national authorities of the countries involved, but has not seen fit to ban exports.

Unilateral action has, however, seen export licences suspended at two German abattoirs, while one Dutch abattoir has been closed.

An investigation by the Dutch meat hygiene service found that spinal cord had not been properly removed at 25 of the countrys abattoirs in February. A tightening up of procedures is under way. &#42