7 March 2001
Brussels acts on German abattoirs

By Philip Clarke, Europe editors

SHIPMENTS of beef to Britain have been suspended from two German abattoirs which breached European regulations aimed at minimising BSE.

Five consignments of German beef, and two from the Netherlands, had turned up at cutting halls in Blackpool and Eastbourne with bits of spinal cord attached.

European food safety commissioner David Byrne wrote to both governments threatening emergency measures unless corrective action was taken.

Following further pressure from Germanys Green agriculture minister Renate Künast, the two German plants had their export licences revoked.

Sir John Krebs, chairman of the UKs Food Standards Agency, said the news justified his policy of naming and shaming the abattoirs which had sent the meat.

“We expect an increase in imports of meat and will continue our 100% inspection of all German beef imported into licensed UK plants,” he said.

But the National Farmers Union said the suspension of shipments from just two German abattoirs failed to go far enough.

“It would teach the Germans a lesson if all their exports were banned from the UK for a while,” said Ian Gardiner, the unions deputy director general.

The NFU would keep a close watch on the Dutch and demanding equivalent action if there were any more breaches of EU law, he added.