18 March 1998
Decision on SRM ban expected today

By Philip Clarke in Brussels

A DECISION on whether to ban animal by-products from the human food chain is expected to be made in Brussels this afternoon.

A ban on Specified-Risk Materials (SRMs) such as brains, spinal cords and intestines, was due to have come into force last January. But negotiations between EU farm ministers faltered and finally ground to a halt yesterday after continued objections from Germany, Austria and Finland.

“Council is deadlocked between those member states who want to see more stringent measures in place and those who dont want to apply any measures at all,” said UK farm minister and EU ministerial president, Jack Cunningham.

“Some member states want to see regional solutions, while other member states believe that we should have just one set of rules.”

Technically, the commission could now go ahead and introduce the ban anyway. But this is thought extremely unlikely.

EU Farm Commissioner Franz Fischler hinted enforcement of the SRM ban was likely to be delayed even further. Farm ministers now want to examine new scientific evidence due out in May regarding possible links between BSE and SRMs.

Meanwhile, however, existing UK legislation banning the use in human food of SRMs from cattle and sheep over one year old will continue.