22 November 2000
Top vet calls for old beef ban

By FWI staff

A LEADING vet who advises the Government has called for a ban on imports of all EU beef aged over 30 months into Britain, reports The Times.

This call comes from Mac Johnston, Professor of Veterinary Public Health at the Royal Veterinary College and member of the EU scientific committee.

Prof Johnson has also demanded an increase in the audits at European meat plants and abattoirs to ensure controls were enforced.

His comments follow concerns about beef from cattle aged over 30 months, disappearing into the food chain.

At present older meat from countries deemed at risk from BSE can be legally imported into Britain even though it cannot legally be sold for human consumption.

This can be processed for re-export, and it is feared that some also ends up in low-grade takeaway food through a lack of strict controls

Beef from cattle over 30 months from EU counties which are not thought to have cases of BSE can be imported for human consumption in Britain.

In another development, The Independent reports that trading standards officers admit they cannot detect old French meat in convenience foods.

This is despite claims from the Food Standards Agency that it ordered tougher inspection of imported beef in October.

Meanwhile, the Tories have called for a ban on French beef until it can be proved to be safe from BSE and produced to UK safety standards.

Tory agriculture spokesman Tim Yeo said he was writing to the Food Standards Agency asking how imported beef was controlled.

In an editorial The Guardianquestions the economic coherence behind the deranged Tory calls.

The newspaper says the Tories want simultaneously to revive the farming industry (which depends on exports) and to ban foreign foodstuff.

It welcomes the announcement by EU farm ministers to increase the number of cattle to be tested for BSE.

And the French government has unveiled a FF3.2bn (292m) emergency package for farmers to help farmers and the meat industry.

The Financial Times reports that the FNSEA farmers federation has criticised the aid as insufficient.