8 March 2001
Fury as more spinal cord arrives

By Philip Clarke, Europe editor

FARMERS have launched a stinging attack on Tony Blair and Brussels after yet another consignment of imported beef was found to contain spinal cord.

This time the contaminated beef came from Spain and turned up in a Dundee cutting hall. The Spanish authorities have been alerted.

The Food Standards Agency in Scotland said spinal cord was found in two forequarters in a 21-tonne consignment from the Giresa Palencia plant.

The National Farmers Union of Scotland called for an immediate export ban on countries that fail to remove the spinal cord properly from carcasses.

“The British public must be protected from these flagrant breaches of EU laws,” said union president Jim Walker.

European consumer affairs commissioner David Byrne should step in, he added. Countries would soon get their act together if action was taken.

Mr Walker called on Prime Minister Tony Blair to get tough on Brussels, and expressed disgust at importers for bringing sub-standard meat into Scotland.

Meanwhile, reports from the Food Standards Agency that exported licences were suspended from two beef exporting German plants have proved to be wrong.

The German authorities have been stepping up inspections on the killing line and point of exit at abattoirs which exported beef containing spinal cord.

But British government sources in Brussels told FARMERS WEEKLY that, so far, no abattoir had been closed or had its licence removed.

To date, there have been six infringements at six different German plants. The implication is that if one re-offends, further action will be taken, said the source.

A Dutch abattoir, which twice sent beef with spinal cord to the UK, has been shut down by the Dutch authorities, Brussels was told on Thursday (7 February).