25 October 2001
Euro-vets ease beef export ban

By Philip Clarke, Europe editor

BRITISH beef could soon be back on Continental dinner plates after European vets lifted the foot-and-mouth export ban for some counties.

The counties covered are those which have had no cases of foot-and-mouth at all – the same categorisation agreed for pigmeat two weeks ago.

In another move, the vets also extended a list of regions that can export pigmeat to counties that have not had the disease for over 90 days.

“The only areas not able to export pigmeat are Cumbria, North Yorkshire, Northumberland, Devon and mid-Wales,” said a government source.

The date from which these decisions will take effect is still to be confirmed. But the move has already been welcomed by meat industry representatives.

Peter Hardwick, Meat and Livestock Commission international manager, described the developments as “an excellent step forward”.

There was, however, an urgency to sort out the paperwork to enable business to actually resume, he added.

“Customers in Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal have been waiting for British pork exports from last Monday (22 October), said Mr Hardwick.

“So far, they have received nothing.”

Peter Scott of the British Meat Federation warned that any resumption of beef exports would be limited.

“Exporters will still have to meet the terms of the date-based export scheme which is very restrictive and very expensive.”

Of two plants registered – Scotbeef and St Merryn Meats – only Scotbeef is able to resume business, being located in a county with no foot-and-mouth.

There was no decision from the European union vets on a resumption of British sheepmeat exports.

A proposal from the commission to allow shipments from the same counties as for beef will be reconsidered in a fortnight.

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