29 November 2000
Brussels to tighten BSE controls

By FWi staff

BRUSSELS plans to ban meat and bonemeal in livestock feed across Europe, in a bid to quell growing consumer anxiety over BSE.

The ban is just one measure to go forward to an emergency meeting of European agriculture ministers next Monday (4 December).

Other proposals include extending the current list of specified risk materials banned from the food chain to include the entire intestine of cattle of all ages.

The European Commission believes that all cattle aged over 30 months will be “purchased for destruction” unless tests show that they are free from BSE.

If, as is likely, the proposals are adopted, they will have less effect on British beef producers than on their Continental cousins.

British BSE controls have already banned meat and bonemeal, and no beef animals over 30 months old are allowed into the food chain.

To offset the effects of the measures on farmers, Brussels has pledged a flexible handling of the intervention system to address the drop in beef prices.

It proposes to raise the advances paid for the beef premia from the current 60% to 80%, to ease the financial pressure on beef producers.

During the last four weeks, the European union beef market has experience an “important drop in prices and beef consumption”, said a commission statement.

European agriculture commissioner Franz Fischler said: “We have to restore consumer confidence. And we have to stabilise the beef market.”

The Scientific Steering Committee, which advises Brussels on BSE, said temporary trade restrictions might be justified until the restrictions are in place.

But it ruled that the effective implementation of the measures “would probably exclude the need for trade restrictions” by individual countries.

Import bans on French beef by Italy, Spain, Austria and the French ban on British beef were not justified on evidence submitted so far, it added.