20 November 2000
EU-wide BSE tests to go ahead

By Philip Clarke, Europe editor

ALL cattle over three years old are to be tested for BSE, EU ministers have agreed at a meeting of the Farm Council in Brussels.

It is estimated that this will involve post-mortem tests on six million cattle at abattoirs across the union.

This comes as panic grows in France after cattle from a BSE-infected herd entered the food chain, and Germany expresses concerns about meat safety.

Finer details of the scheme are still to be decided, and will be negotiated at Veterinary Standing Committee meeting on Tuesday (21 November).

Commissioners speculate that it could be the middle of next year before the scheme is introduced, meaning that animals born before 1 July, 1998 would be affected.

Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Austria all said they could not back the scheme but all other countries were in favour.

Ministers could not come to a consensus on whether to ban meat and bonemeal in all animal feed, but agreed to keep the issue under review.

At the same meeting, France agreed to apply BSE controls on MBM and its ban of beef-on-the bone to meat destined for export as well as for domestic consumption.