17 August 2001

No help on F&M grain hauliers

GRAIN trade representatives must go it alone to discover which hauliers transported foot-and-mouth carcasses, after the government refused to help.

An industry code of practice means hauliers who carried carcasses cannot use the same vehicles or trailers for carrying crops, feed or seed. But ministers are still refusing to release details of lorries involved in the foot-and-mouth clean up campaign, says the merchant body UKASTA.

As a consequence, UKASTA has been forced to conduct its own audit to ensure that all hauliers comply with the code of practice for road haulage. "Our members are now doing more checks, at their own expense and sharing information between them," said chief executive, Jim Reed.

Despite repeated requests by UKASTA and the flour millers organisation NABIM, the government continually refuses to reveal which hauliers are involved. But Mr Reed said industry lobbying had now attracted the support of the Food Standards Agency.

The agency has stated that it wants to avoid "any possible risks from all types of contamination", recognising there will be considerable public concern. It has also advised the government to find alternative methods for transporting F&M carcasses.

Mr Reed said hauliers were doing everything they could to adhere to the UKASTA code, a cornerstone of Trade Assurance Scheme for Combinable Crops.

The additional audit programme was "about going the extra mile to demonstrate that our schemes deliver safe food and feed", he said.

Under the Assured Combinable Crops Scheme, cereal growers must also check previous loads of lorries before they load them with grain. Loading a lorry that has been used at any time for carrying livestock carcasses renders the grain non-assured and liable for rejection by a flour mill. &#42