12 October 1999
Beef into France – as long as it doesn’t stop

By Philip Clarke, Europe editor

FRENCH farm minister Jean Glavany has agreed “as a gesture of goodwill” to allow the transit of British beef across his territory.

Although the ban on British beef sales in France remains, exporters had blamed the transit ban for preventing shipments reaching other southern European countries.

The decision to lift the transit ban – which has almost immediate effect – was welcomed by meat trade executives at todays Anuga food fair in Cologne.

John Drycott of St Merryn Meat – the only abattoir currently licensed to export British beef – said there was enormous interest for quality product in Italy.

So far, however, no British beef has been shipped to Italy due to haulage problems. Buyers in other countries have preferred to keep a low profile.

Scottish farm minister Ross Finnie expressed his disappointment that the French and German markets were still closed to British beef.

“The longer this goes on there is a real danger of damaging public confidence” he told listeners at the Anuga food fair today (Monday).

The feeling at the fair is that the continuing ban on beef on the bone was not helping, giving France and Germany an excuse for their trade embargoes.

Lifting the bone-in ban would open up more EU markets for British beef, according to some exhibitors and visitors.

“Before the BSE crisis 80% of our imports from the UK were bone-in” said one Italian shipper at the show.