25 May 1999
BSE rules widely flouted, claim officials

By Vicky Houchin and Johann Tasker

GOVERNMENT rules designed to keep beef at risk from BSE out of the human food chain are being widely flouted, trading standards officials have claimed.

At least five new cases are being investigated that cattle at risk from BSE have been presented for slaughter at two abattoirs in Shropshire, it emerged today.

The news follows the emergency re-introduction yesterday of a ban on beef exports from Northern Ireland after meat unacceptable cattle was shipped abroad.

The Shropshire cases are in addition to a further 22 incidents involving a total of 190 cattle which county council officials have been investigating since January.

Over-age cattle have also allegedly been presented for slaughter at abattoirs in other parts of the country, trading standards officers said this afternoon.

Cattle older than 30 months were banned from being slaughtered entering the human food chain as a “market support measure” at the height of the BSE crisis.

The measure was designed to prevent the consumption of beef from animals which most likely to have developed a significant amount of BSE in their tissue.

But todays revelation shows that some farmers are prepared to break the law at the expense of honest producers trying to restore public confidence in British beef.

Trading standards investigations are examining allegations that over-age cattle have also been presented to abattoirs in Oxfordshire, Leicestershire and Northamptonshire

“There are other authorities which have ongoing investigations,” confirmed Graham Godbold, operations manager of Shropshire Trading Standards office.

“It obviously shows a weakness somewhere in the system.”

Mr Godbold is also secretary of the national animal health and welfare panel which regularly meets with Ministry of Agriculture officials to discuss BSE controls.

“The last thing we want to be seen doing is bashing the industry,” he told Farmers Weekly this afternoon.

“These cases have only been uncovered because of Meat and Hygiene Service officials and the vigilance of the slaughterhouses involved.”