9 January 1998

Some unsafe beef imports to slip net – meat trade man

By Jonathan Riley

GOVERNMENTS ban on beef imports that fail to meet the UKs BSE safety standards is unlikely to be 100% effective, a leading meat trade official has warned.

Peter Scott, general secretary of the Federation of Fresh Meat Wholesalers, believed that some beef would inevitably reach British cutting plants without anyone having checked that the specified risk materials had been removed.

While MAFF insists that a system of checks at ports has been in place from Jan 1, as promised by farm minister Jack Cunningham, the only beef being checked routinely is that from Third countries, none of which have ever recorded a case of BSE.

But imports from the EU, where, according to the EU Commission, no member state can consider itself to be BSE-free, are being checked only randomly. Blanket checks on beef from the EU would be illegal under European free trade rules.

Mr Scott, therefore, feared that some beef, not meeting UK standards, would inevitably reach cutting plants. He added that there was confusion at the plants about what procedures were involved in treating or disposing of this beef.

Another concern was how random checks would cope with the beef about to be released from EU intervention stores, which included carcasses from cattle over 30 months old, Mr Scott said.

Meanwhile, Alan Bartlett, chairman of the south-west NFUs emergency committee, has written to Dr Cunningham stressing the difficulties in assessing whether SRM removal reached UK standards because most beef was imported de-boned.

Instead he called for a total ban of imports from EU states where SRM removal to UK standards was not a legal requirement.

Relying on exporting countries to certify that the SRMs had been removed was unsatisfactory. He also called for spot checks on imports at final destinations which, he suggested, were permissible under single market regulations.

By Jonathan Riley

GOVERNMENTS ban on beef imports that fail to meet the UKs BSE safety standards is unlikely to be 100% effective, a leading meat trade official has warned.

Peter Scott, general secretary of the Federation of Fresh Meat Wholesalers, believed that some beef would inevitably reach British cutting plants without anyone having checked that the specified risk materials had been removed.

While MAFF insists that a system of checks at ports has been in place from Jan 1, as promised by farm minister Jack Cunningham, the only beef being checked routinely is that from Third countries, none of which have ever recorded a case of BSE.

But imports from the EU, where, according to the EU Commission, no member state can consider itself to be BSE-free, are being checked only randomly. Blanket checks on beef from the EU would be illegal under European free trade rules.

Mr Scott, therefore, feared that some beef, not meeting UK standards, would inevitably reach cutting plants. He added that there was confusion at the plants about what procedures were involved in treating or disposing of this beef.

Another concern was how random checks would cope with the beef about to be released from EU intervention stores, which included carcasses from cattle over 30 months old, Mr Scott said.

Meanwhile, Alan Bartlett, chairman of the south-west NFUs emergency committee, has written to Dr Cunningham stressing the difficulties in assessing whether SRM removal reached UK standards because most beef was imported de-boned.

Instead he called for a total ban of imports from EU states where SRM removal to UK standards was not a legal requirement.

Relying on exporting countries to certify that the SRMs had been removed was unsatisfactory. He also called for spot checks on imports at final destinations which, he suggested, were permissible under single market regulations.

By Jonathan Riley

GOVERNMENTS ban on beef imports that fail to meet the UKs BSE safety standards is unlikely to be 100% effective, a leading meat trade official has warned.

Peter Scott, general secretary of the Federation of Fresh Meat Wholesalers, believed that some beef would inevitably reach British cutting plants without anyone having checked that the specified risk materials had been removed.

While MAFF insists that a system of checks at ports has been in place from Jan 1, as promised by farm minister Jack Cunningham, the only beef being checked routinely is that from Third countries, none of which have ever recorded a case of BSE.

But imports from the EU, where, according to the EU Commission, no member state can consider itself to be BSE-free, are being checked only randomly. Blanket checks on beef from the EU would be illegal under European free trade rules.

Mr Scott, therefore, feared that some beef, not meeting UK standards, would inevitably reach cutting plants. He added that there was confusion at the plants about what procedures were involved in treating or disposing of this beef.

Another concern was how random checks would cope with the beef about to be released from EU intervention stores, which included carcasses from cattle over 30 months old, Mr Scott said.

Meanwhile, Alan Bartlett, chairman of the south-west NFUs emergency committee, has written to Dr Cunningham stressing the difficulties in assessing whether SRM removal reached UK standards because most beef was imported de-boned.

Instead he called for a total ban of imports from EU states where SRM removal to UK standards was not a legal requirement.

Relying on exporting countries to certify that the SRMs had been removed was unsatisfactory. He also called for spot checks on imports at final destinations which, he suggested, were permissible under single market regulations.