16 September 1998
Cunningham humiliated again over bone-in beef ban
By FWi staff
FORMER agriculture minister Jack Cunningham faced fresh humiliation today (Wednesday) over the way he banned beef on the bone.
In his new role as Cabinet “enforcer”, Dr Cunningham was this afternoon due to launch a report highly critical of the way he imposed the ban last December.
The Better Regulation Task Forces first annual report slams the way ministers seek scapegoats for risks without proper discussion with experts.
In the report, Northern Foods chairman Lord Haskins criticises the way ministers and government officials over-react to public safety concerns
“The consequence may be impractical regulation which earns little public support in the longer term,” the report says.
Dr Cunningham is widely believed to have acted without the appropriate consultation when he banned beef on the bone last December. The ban enraged consumers and won Dr Cunningham the nickname “Jack Boots”.
The BSE saga is cited as an example of mistakes in risk assessment. Regulations to deal with the BSE crisis were at first insufficient but then became excessive, the report says.
The review is said to have the backing of Prime Minister Tony Blair. Mr Blair is reportedly concerned that government departments are too anxious to introduce safeguards against remote risks to consumers.
Supporters of the review hope it will lead to a change in the governments approach to regulation and rein in the “nanny state”. It will also please farmers who feel the government favours consumer interests at the expense of producers.
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