11 August 1997
No change for EU meat safety rules

THE European Union (EU) has ruled out an immediate change to the new meat safety rules. Billions of dollars of exports from non-EU countries could be hit.

Non-EU countries will only be spared the lost trade if they adopt similar rules. Any changes cannot now take place until a meeting of EU scientific experts on September 8.

This will be a blow to the pharmaceuticals and cosmetics industries which claim they will now be faced with a shortage of tallow or animal fat. The derivatives of these by-products are crucial ingredients for a whole raft of goods.

The rules ban materials most at risk of carrying bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), and come into force in January. They are part of the EUs attempt to control the disease.

The US is angry that it could lose $100 million (£61m) of tallow exports. It could potentially lose billions more from exports of goods containing tallow derivatives. It can only prevent this if it brings its slaughterhouse rules in line with Europes. An alternative would be for it to introduce certificates stating products were made without the banned materials.

The US, Canada and Australia claim to be BSE-free. It is possible that could lead to them being exempted from the rules when officials meet in four weeks. But officials say privately the standards required for being declared BSE-free are so high that few nations will meet them.

  • Financial Times 11/08/97 page 2