10 August 2001
Grain trade to track down virus lorries

By Tom Allen-Stevens

GRAIN-TRADE representatives must go it alone to discover which hauliers transported foot-and-mouth carcasses, after the government refused to help.

Under an industry code of practice, hauliers who have carried carcasses cannot use the same vehicles or trailers for carrying crops, feed or seed.

But merchant body UKASTA says ministers are still refusing to release details of lorries involved in the foot-and-mouth clean up campaign.

As a consequence it has been forced to conduct its own audit to ensure that all hauliers comply with the code of practice for road haulage.

“Our members are now doing more checks, at their own expense and sharing information between them,” said UKASTA chief executive Jim Reed.

FWi broke the story about the apparent oversight by the former Ministry of Agriculture in May, which attracted national press attention.

Officials appeared to give grain hauliers the green light to carry foot-and-mouth infected carcasses, saying vehicles could afterwards be used for grain.

Despite repeated requests by UKASTA and flour millers organisation NABIM, the government refused to reveal which hauliers had been involved.

Industry lobbying has also attracted the support of government food safety watchdog the Food Standards Agency, Mr Reed said.

The FSA had stated that it wanted to avoid “any possible risks from all types of contamination”, recognising there would be considerable public concern.

The agency also advised the government to find alternative methods for transporting FMD carcasses.

Mr Reed said hauliers were doing everything they could to adhere to the UKASTA code, a cornerstone of Trade Assurance Scheme for Combinable Crops.

He said the additional audit programme was “about going the extra mile to demonstrate that our schemes deliver safe food and feed.”

Under the Assured Combinable Crops Scheme, cereal growers must also check previous loads of lorries before they load them with grain.

Loading a lorry that has been used at any time for carrying livestock carcasses renders the grain non-assured and liable for rejection by a flour mill.