13 October 1999
French want beef ban until Aug 2001

FRANCE indicated yesterday that it may keep the ban on British beef until August 2001.

Mary-Lise Lebranchu, a French minister with consumer protection responsibilities, quoted from a European Union scientific opinion to support French doubts about the safety of British beef.

European scientists are expected to study tomorrow a French dossier to determine whether any new evidence has been uncovered.

The independent food safety council in Paris has argued that the embargo on beef exports should remain until 2001.

This would be five years – the incubation period for BSE – after the UK banned the use of bonemeal in animal feed.

Ms Lebranchu, said that even if the French claims are rejected, her government will refer the matter back to the food safety council for further consideration.

She acknowledged that the government has the power to ignore the councils findings.

The minister did not promise that the beef ban will be lifted if scientists in Brussels reject the French case.

She added that even if France complied and lifted the ban little British beef would be sold in France.

The Guardian reports that the Cornish village of Hatherleigh has announced a unilateral ban on French produce in response to the dispute of Frances refusal to lift its beef ban.