22 October 1998
Brown meets Bonino over beef export ban

FARM minister Nick Brown met EU consumer affairs commissioner Emma Bonino on Wednesday (21 October) to press the case for lifting the beef export ban.

The date-based scheme, which would allow exports of British beef, is still in trouble in Brussels because the EU commission maintains that it cannot accept the scheme unless all cattle bones are removed at point of slaughter.

Only specific risk material (SRMs), including vertebral column, are currently removed in UK abattoirs. Other bones are taken out along the food chain to meet the UKs unrelated beef-on-the-bone ban.

“Deboning in abattoirs would put enormous additional costs on our industry, with no extra benefits for continental consumers,” said Mr Brown, following this weeks EU farm council. “Under the date-based scheme, the only way bone products might end up on the Continent would be in the form of photo-processing materials, which are hardly for human consumption.”

The UK insists that it does not matter at what stage bones are removed. It is also concerned that, if deboning is enshrined in EU law, it may be impossible to lift the domestic beef-on-the-bone ban.

Abattoirs, meanwhile, maintain that they just do not have the capacity to deal with entire bone removal on their premises.

  • For this and other stories, see Farmers Weekly, 23-29 October, 1998
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