1 March 2000
Spinal cord found in ‘safe’ carcass

By Alistair Driver

AN investigation has been mounted after MAFF vets found a small piece of spinal cord hanging from a health-marked beef carcass in an abattoir in the north-west of England.

The meat inspector responsible for the final inspection of beef carcasses has been suspended pending the investigations results.

The discovery, along with other minor breaches of specified risk material (SRM) controls, was made during a regular MAFF audit of Meat Hygiene Service controls at the abattoir.

The two-and-a-half-inch long piece of material was removed and disposed of in accordance with the regulations.

Under SRM controls, abattoirs in Britain remove cattle heads (excluding the tongue), spinal cord, spleen, thymus, tonsils and intestines, which have all been identified as potential carriers of BSE.

Meat inspectors are instructed to ensure all SRM is removed from the carcass at slaughter, stained and disposed of in a controlled way.

This is the first time since March 1996 that such an audit has found bovine spinal cord attached to a carcass.

An unannounced follow up visit by MAFF vets to the unnamed abattoir found no further breaches of regulations.

The MHS is liaising with MAFFs investigation branch to with a view to a possible prosecution of the plant owner for breaches of SRM controls.