12 April 1996

MAFF move OK but…

MAFFs national quality assurance schemes received a mixed reception this week.

An MLC spokesman welcomed the announcement advocating traceability and quality assurance as a way of reassuring consumers both at home and abroad.

Although the NFU agreed with the MLC, it warned against a BSE-free label, which would be counter-productive, said a spokes-man. A scheme, based on an identification system which registered herds BSE status could lead to a two-tier beef market, he said.

Herds in which there have been BSE outbreaks would be disadvantaged, agreed south-west co-op Mole Valley Farmers.

Those farms would not be abandoned, according to MAFF. One option was to allow herds to convert to a BSE-free status after monitoring, said a spokesman.

Gerald Cowen, chairman of farm assured British Beef and Lamb, said he hoped MAFF would consider involving FABBL within the scheme. "We have got to put something in front of the people which is credible and this system could also demonstrate its integrity."

Electronic tagging was the key to any assurance scheme, said Mr Cowen. (See also page 40.) &#42