30 November 2000
Irish suffer as Egypt bans beef

By FWi staff

IRELAND has lost a major market for its beef with the announcement that Egypt has banned imports of the meat from Europe.

Cairos decision following recent revelations that beef from BSE-infected herds had entered the food chain in France and cases of the disease in Germany and Spain.

Jordan and Oman have already imposed bans and it is suspected that other Middle Eastern countries will follow suit.

The BBC reports that Ireland will be worst hit by the loss of the Egyptian market which is worth Ir200m a year to its farmers.

This will heighten concerns among British farmers already worried that Ireland may dump beef in Britain as European markets collapse because of the scare.

On Wednesday (29 Nov) Brussels recommended a ban on meat and bonemeal (MBM) in livestock feed across Europe, in a bid to quell growing consumer anxiety.

Other proposals include extending the current list of specified risk materials banned from the food chain to include the entire intestine of cattle of all ages.

The European Commission believes that all cattle aged over 30 months will be “purchased for destruction” unless tests show that they are free from BSE.

British BSE controls have already banned MBM, and no beef animals over 30 months old are allowed into the food chain.

The Financial Times predicts that an MBM ban could lead to a trade dispute between the EU and the US over soya production.

If MBM was prohibited, feed manufacturers would switch to soya as a substitute to replace the nutrition supplied by meat.

But Brussels and Washington are at odds over what will happen once agreed curbs on subsidised production end in 2002.

The EC believes there should be no limit from then because subsidies will be the same as those for cereals.

However, the US says the EU limit on subsidised production must remain at 5m hectares, reports the FT.

Meanwhile, French president Jacques Chirac could be tucking into British beef when he dines with Tony Blair on Wednesday (30 Nov) night.

Mr Chirac and Mr Blair, who want to get away from formal banquets, will meet at a County Durham pub ahead of next weeks EU summit in Nice.

Andrew Brown, chef at The County, in Aycliffe, told The Independent that the menu of home-grown produce will include three beef dishes.