25 October 1999
French beef scare hits the headlines

By FWi staff

THE Governments refusal to ban French beef over health scares, in marked contrast to the French ban on British beef, concerns most of todays newspapers.

Independent scientists told government officials there should be a tough response to the findings of a damning European Union report.

This had found French cattle were raised on feed containing animal and human sewage, meat and bonemeal in defiance of European law.

But agriculture minister Nick Brown said there was no justification to order a ban, leading to accusations of weakness from shadow agriculture minister Tim Yeo.

France bans British beef despite the worldwide BSE ban being lifted in August. Its French food agency questions British figures on BSE cases.

The Daily Mail calls for a Buy British campaign and in an editorial asks why government ministers are not demanding Brussels begins an inquiry and in the meantime introducing a ban in the meantime.

Its sister newspaper The Mail on Sunday claimed yesterday that up to 80 per cent of French cattle were given illegal drugs, hormones, growth activators and antibiotics.

The Express says this, on top of the sewage scandal, is a “double blow” for French farmers and calls for a ban on French meat until it is proved safe.

“If British beef was ‘guilty until proven innocent ’ why shouldnt French farmers have to meet the same standards,” it asks.

The Government has failed to act on public health warnings that French beef should be banned, reports The Times.

Experts are said to have told government officials to put in place a “major incident plan” as they did over the dioxin scandal in Belgium earlier this year.

The Guardian focuses on news that the government is to tighten food labelling laws, and spend extra money on promoting British-produced food.

The announcement of extra cash and efforts by the British government to force France to lift its import ban on British beef are highlighted by the Financial Times.

An editorial describes the revelations on French feed as “disgusting”. But it calls for independent judgements and consumer choice rather than trade bans.

Independent scientists meet today to assess whether France has a case for refusing to lift its ban on British beef. It is thought the committee will refer the issue to an overseeing steering committee.