12 April 1996

Dutch start UKcalf killing with 2000 beasts

UP TO 2000 British-born calves were slaughtered yesterday (Thur) in the town of Aalten as the Dutch government signalled its intention to kill all 64,000 UK calves impounded in Holland.

Dutch farm minister Jozias van Aartsen said the cattle would be slaughtered over the next six weeks, with stock crushed and then incinerated.

Mr van Aartsen said the current world ban on British beef meant it was necessary for the animals – reared for Europes veal industry – to be slaughtered to keep them out of the food chain.

Their slaughter policy was at odds with neighbouring Belgium, where the government decided that the 27,000 British-born Friesian calves in the country did not pose a threat to human health.

Although sympathetic to the UK beef industry, the Belgian government said the UK should improve its traceability of cattle and set up a national database system: "We offered the British government free use of our database system – Sanetel – which has been used to cope with outbreak of brucellosis and track down the hormone mafia," said a spokesman.

The French government aims to impound 60,000 British calves, awaiting Brussels guidelines.

end of their normal working life and keeping them in cold storage: "The carcasses wont be destroyed while we await scientific evidence on the safety of British beef."

Marion Guillou, French agricultural attaché, said the BSE scare had affected consumer confidence, with beef sales down 30% in France.

Meanwhile, a joint industry/government initiative in the United States to slaughter all remaining beef animals imported from the UK prior to the trading ban in 1989 due to BSE, moved into full swing this week.

Dr Linda Detwiler, US Department of Agriculture, animal and plant health science spokeswoman, said 113 cattle in 22 US states would be slaughtered, with brains going for diagnostic tests in laboratories. The US claims not to have had a case of BSE, and Dr Detwiler stressed all the animals were clinically normal.