15 May 2001
MAFF in carcass transport fiasco

By Tom Allen-Stevens

GOVERNMENT officials have denied urging hauliers to breach food safety advice and shift foot-and-mouth carcasses in lorries which carry grain for human consumption.

The denial follows claims that favourable rates from the Ministry of Agriculture encouraged grain hauliers to help in the foot-and-mouth operation.

One Cumbrian haulier said: “Theres been a lot of profiteering going on, with some hauliers charging phenomenal figures – its been a huge incentive.”

He added: “A lot of the trailers used on the carcass job are grain lorries – theres been a bit of an issue over sealing the grain hatches.”

The trade magazine Motor Transport has claimed that MAFF officials told hauliers who shifted carcasses that lorries could go back to transporting grain.

But a MAFF spokeswoman denied saying grain lorries should be used. She told FARMERS WEEKLY: “Were not aware that anyone in MAFF gave this advice.”

“We were looking at all avenues of disposing carcasses, among them the possibility of recruiting more lorries. But we discovered we had enough lorries anyway.”

Using grain lorries to shift foot-and-mouth carcasses contravenes Food Standards Agency advice which urged MAFF in April to find other methods.

“There is no legal prohibition, but the Agency wants to avoid all possible risks from any type of contamination,” said an FSA statement.

The Agency said that there could be considerable public concern with dual use of food lorries and said it was “emphatically not content” with the situation.

Concern has also been raised by the United Kingdom Agricultural Supply Trade Association, which operates an assurance scheme governing grain transport.

Under the schemes guidelines, any trailer used to transport animal carcasses can never again be used to transport grain or animal feedstuffs.

The association said lower yields this harvest would not mean a shortage of lorries to transport grain and growers should reject higher transport costs.

Bill Young, regional manager for the Assured Combinable Crops Scheme, said grain wouldnt be assured if the lorry had carried foot-and-mouth carcasses.

“If a lorry turns up on your farm to load grain, inspect the wagon yourself and ask the driver the previous three loads. If you are still unhappy, dont load it.”.

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