25 October 1999
Brown’ French boycott ‘no embarrassment’

By FWi staff

AGRICULTURE minister Nick Brown has denied suggestions that he is embarrassing the government with his personal boycott against French produce.

Mr Brown said it was “absolutely ridiculous” to claim his protest at the continuing French ban on British beef is undermining government policy.

The government is resisting calls to ban French beef despite revelations that French cattle were fed human sewage and animal parts, including bonemeal.

The minister said until he received a further report from his own advisory committee there were no legal grounds for a ban on French beef.

That position conflicts with a report on BBC Online which claims that committee chairman Phil Thomas has joined calls for action against France.

Professor Thomas is said to believe that French meat producers have broken UK and European food safety laws.

There is a potential health risk from consuming meat from animals fed on banned feed ingredients, although the risk is relatively small, he said.

European food commissioner David Byrne has maintained that there are presently no grounds for a ban against French meat exports.

Defending his own boycott, Mr Brown said: “Its a personal decision, Im not saying that everybody should do the same thing.

“Its a free country, we are all free to do what we like with our post-tax disposable income and Im not going to spend mine purchasing French goods.”

The Prime Ministers spokesman confirmed that it is not government policy to boycott French products, and said Mr Browns protest was highly unusual.

“We are not in a normal situation,” he added.