3 May 1996

Legal challenge to 30-month ban?

MAFF faces a legal challenge on its ban on cattle over 30 months from the human food chain.

Independent food safety adviser Richard North and the International Meat Trade Association hope to be given leave for judicial review of the ban later this week.

Dr North said farm minister Douglas Hogg did not have the powers to impose the ban on cattle over 30 months under the emergency order used, as beef from these cattle posed no threat to human health.

Labour Peer Lord Carter also questioned the ban in the Lords. In reply MAFFs spokesman Lord Lucas said section 13 (1) of the food safety act enabled the minister to make an emergency control order if it appeared to him that there may be an imminent risk of injury to health.

But Lord Carter said an imminent risk of injury to health was required before the emergency orders could be brought in. "Ministers have continually told us over the past five weeks that beef is safe to eat. Where is the imminent risk to health, therefore, as required by the Act?"

Lord Lucas said: "The possible imminent risk to health is that which we avoided by the measures that we have taken."