18 January 2001
Now Europe faces T-bone beef ban

By Philip Clarke, Europe editor

T-BONE steaks and mechanically recovered meat could soon be banned across the European Union because scientists in Brussels are worried about BSE.

The Scientific Steering Committee was asked to review the matter after France introduced its unilateral beef-on-the-bone ban late last year.

The committee said meat on the vertebrae of animals over a year old should not be eaten unless the animal was “highly unlikely to be incubating BSE”.

In other words, a decision to ban T-bone steaks should depend on the BSE-risk status of each European Union country.

As far as the UK is concerned, the opinion suggests that the strict conditions of the date-based export scheme would make T-bone steaks safe in this country.

That will come as a relief to meat-traders and politicians alike.

Following the furore that surrounded the lifting of the beef-on-the-bone ban last year, reintroducing a ban to satisfy Brussels would be a major embarrassment.

Scientists believe there is a risk of BSE from mechanically recovered meat scraped from skull and vertebral bones from animals over 12 months old.

The opinion will now be passed to the European Commission, though a final decision on how to treat these two subjects will rest with agriculture ministers.