8 March 2001
EU set to end Portuguese beef ban

By Philip Clarke, Europe Editor

BEEF exports are expected to resume from Portugal this summer, following approval of a date-based export scheme by EU vets in Brussels.

Trade was suspended in November 1998 due to the escalating number of BSE cases in that country.

But following a tightening of control procedures and a decline in cases last year, to 136, the commission has drawn up a scheme similar to that operating in the UK.

To be eligible for export, Portuguese beef must be de-boned and come from animals aged between six and 30 months, born after 01 July, 1999.

This is the date when the meat and bonemeal ban became fully effective.

Portugal also intends to limit the scheme to certain specific herds.

EU vets this week voted in favour of lifting the ban, though France and Austria voted against and Germany abstained.

But before it can be implemented, EU vets must pay another inspection visit to check on the traceability and meat separation procedures.

As yet, Portugal does not have a dedicated abattoir and it will be some months before exports resume.

Before the ban Portugal exported just 3000t of beef, mostly to Spain.