20 April 2001
Meat-industry boost from healthy culls

By Alistair Driver

BRITAINS meat industry is expecting a boost as farmers prepare to send healthy sheep from areas infected with foot-and-mouth into the food chain.

Meat from thousands of animals culled under the governments foot-and-mouth welfare disposal scheme could also be sold for human consumption.

Junior agriculture minister Baroness Hayman suggested that the domestic market would be swamped by imports unless it was allowed to recover.

Meat from healthy animals in areas infected with foot-and-mouth disease will be allowed into the food chain from Monday (23 April), she confirmed.

In a separate move, foot-and-mouth restrictions were lifted on more than 1000 farms in Leicestershire and Northamptonshire on Friday (20 April).

A further relaxation in the rules, allowing other farmers to move animals between their own premises, is due to come into effect on 28 April.

Previously, animals could only be moved for animal welfare reasons, but from that date movement will be permitted for husbandry reasons.

Licences will issued by local veterinary inspectors rather than a central authority, which will speed up the time taken to obtain permission.

Baroness Hayman said some carcasses from animals slaughtered under the welfare scheme were entering two cold-stores with capacity for 500,000 sheep.

The government is considering whether the carcasses could be sold for human consumption in a bid to overcome a shortage of meat, she said.

“The meat will be fit for human consumption. Having it in cold storage allows us to resolve these problems,” said the Baroness.

The pig market is operating at about 90% of its pre-crisis capacity. But the beef market has dipped below 75%. The sheep market is below 50%.

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Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks
Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage