2 January 2001
Spinal cord found in sheep meat

By FWi staff

THE Food Standards Agency has ordered the Meat Hygiene Service to investigate a failure of BSE controls at an abattoir in Devon.

Pieces of spinal cord were found in the carcass of a single sheep after it had been health-marked as fit for human consumption.

The breach of the regulations was detected during a routine audit by the State Veterinary Service on 18 December.

The Official Veterinary Surgeon involved has been suspended pending the results of further investigation.

The carcass has been destroyed, eliminating any possibility that it might enter the food chain. Investigations to date indicate that this was an isolated incident.

Spinal cord is classified as Specified Risk Material (SRM) in cattle and sheep – material most likely to harbour BSE infectivity.

By law, it must be removed at slaughter and disposed of in a controlled way.