EU scientists have agreed to lift the age at which vertebral column has to be removed from cattle carcases, from 24 months to 30 months.
The decision, which will take another three months to ratify, will lead to an increase in the supply of bone-in cuts of beef, such as T-bone steak and rib of beef.
Under current EU rules, vertebral column has to be removed from animals over 24 months at slaughter as one of the control measures against BSE.
This means that a large proportion of the UK’s beef supply has to be de-boned, leading to additional cost to producers and reduced choice for consumers.
The UK used to have a special derogation allowing it to sell bone-in beef from animals up to 30 months.
But this was reduced to 24 months as a condition of allowing British beef back onto the EU export market in May 2006.
“This is without doubt very welcome and long awaited news,” said NFU Scotland vice-president Nigel Miller. “The UK was the only country to lose out under the 24 month rule change. For every other member state, it was a better deal as they had been operating a 12 month policy previously.”
About half of Scotland’s prime cattle are sold at between 24 and 30 months, so will benefit from the new arrangement.
EBLEX chief executive Richard Ali said it was also good news for shoppers because it would lead to an increase in the availability of traditional bone-in cuts, such as T-bone steak and the full bone-in rib of beef.