19 October 1998
Doubts remain over beef-on-bone ban

By FWi staff

FARMERS cautiously welcomed the weekend announcement that the beef on the bone ban could be lifted by next March.

But the ban may have to stay if the world-wide embargo on British beef exports is also to be removed.

Agriculture Minister Nick Brown said on Saturday that all cattle at risk of being fed feed infected with BSE will have been slaughtered by next spring.

That would leave Mr Brown free to remove the unpopular ban, imposed by his predecessor Jack Cunningham since last January.

Mr Brown said he was ready to take a “political decision” to lift the ban, leaving “consumers free to choose on the basis of the best scientific advice”.

The National Farmers Union welcomed Mr Browns announcement as a boost for consumer choice.

But the Government could be forced to maintain the ban in return for other European countries agreeing to end the embargo on British beef exports.

A proposal being examined by European Commission veterinary experts would effectively re-impose the beef on the bone ban by forcing Britain to debone all beef prior to export.

The veterinary experts are considering whether to extend that requirement to the entire British market.