29 March 1996

Pilloried industry has right to feel hurt

THE whole beef industry has a right to feel quite hurt that on the basis of a pathological observation an industry is being pilloried, says Mr Maclean.

But the latest scientific finding of a new strain of CJD must be regarded seriously and the industry should react responsibly, he stresses.

"British beef can be eaten with confidence. We know it is safer now than it ever was," he says. "This should be used as a signal, along with farmers and butchers own confidence and credibility to help re-establish the industry." Mr Maclean has noticed a great feeling of compassion for the industry. "Beef as a product is tremendously robust. People like it, it is part of our heritage.

"But first the industry must settle the consumer. "If we dont there will be no market-place. I want farmers participation and their help. We are in a crisis and there is no getting away from that."

He suggests farmers and butchers tell anyone they meet that Kenneth Calman, chief medical officer, and John Pattison, chairman of the Spongiform Enceph-alopathy Advisory Committee, have both said they will continue to eat beef. "That is a very strong medical message."

In the longer term all sectors of the industry have a right to turn to their government and Europe for help in financial terms. "But we have to ensure the industrys behaviour, whatever it is doing, is beyond question," urges Mr Maclean.

"I need peer support: Laws can never do that on their own. We need farmers who see a dealer, if you like, buying up cattle or one not using certificates properly, to say: I am sorry that is not the way to do things around here. It takes a crisis to get people to do that. Everybody has to pull together."

And Mr Maclean sympathises with those producers who feel beleaguered because they have never had a case of BSE. But he urges the beef and dairy industry to stick together, as BSE has occurred in all breeds.

For the latest BSE research turn to p46. &#42