26 April 1996

Get teeth into Beef Order

THE Beef (Emergency Control) Order 1996 was introduced on March 29 to ensure meat for sale is only derived from cattle aged below 30 months.

In restricting the sale of meat to this age group, MAFF policy is to accept for slaughter animals which show only one pair of permanent incisors in the lower jaw, or dentition which shows that the animal has not yet reached that.

Producers sending cattle for slaughter, therefore, must familiarise themselves with the dentition patterns that are and are not acceptable, warns the Meat Hygiene Service. In practical terms, this means that there must be only two adult incisor teeth in total in the lower jaw, or less (see Diag 1).

Any evidence that the second pair of permanent incisors have erupted (have broken the skin) will preclude the carcass from being health marked by the MHS (see Diag 2).

To cater for the eventuality that male animals at 30 months or under show more than two permanent incisors, documentary evidence to support the claim that the animal is young enough for eligibility may be supplied.

This is the Cattle Identification Document (CID) in England and Wales and Cattle Certification Document (CCD) in Scotland. These documents apply to male animals only, and are seen as supporting evidence only; dentition is held as the primary evidence.

The MHS advises checking stock before transportation for slaughter. Dentition should be checked first; if there is any doubt about the age or dentition, then it suggests checking the eartag number, and in the case of male animals, checking the CID/CCD against the eartag number.

If necessary the document should accompany the animal to the slaughterhouse for submission to the MHS. It will not health mark meat which does not fall into the correct age category.

Diag 1: Animals which show only one pair of permanent inciscors in the lower jaw will be accepted for slaughter and their meat for sale.

Diag 2: A second pair of errupting incisors means the carcass will not be accepted for sale unless with a valid CID/CCD document.