14 March 1996

Exemption plans undermine beef

CONFIDENCE in UK beef could be undermined if the government is successful in exempting certain herds from the export ban.

Tescos meat director Andrew Batty says the governments request to have the export ban lifted for herds having no cases of BSE for at least six years, could cause confusion over the safety of beef sold on the home market.

"If the term BSE-free is used to describe this exported beef, the UK consumer could assume that meat sold on the home market is of a lower standard," he told journalists on a tour of abattoirs supplying Tesco this week.

"This will hit the price for the majority of our beef while pushing prices up for animals from certified herds. Also, the scheme is not a guarantee that the herd will not have a case of BSE. If these herds buy in a BSE-infected animal which finds its way onto the export market, the credibility of our health measures, both home and abroad, will be undermined."n

Jonathan Riley