17 May 2002

Mixed views on French threat

FRANCES threat to require removal of spinal cord from carcasses of sheep over six months of age brought mixed responses.

David Croston, MLCs head of sheep strategy, said trends in the French elections suggested a change in government, so it might be possible to get the decision deferred. But the new rules were due to start from July 1, so his advice was to market fit lambs quickly.

MLC has met DEFRA to discuss how to determine the age of lambs. "I just hope producers have identification and lambing books."

The French meat trade still did not know what it would have to do to comply, Mr Croston noted. "But if we have to split export carcasses it will upset the price, as well as costing extra."

David Maunder, chairman of abattoir-processor Lloyd Maunder, said the French demand was for fresh carcasses which were cut up in the supermarkets. "If they are split and the spinal cord removed they will become a commodity, competing with New Zealand and others." &#42