EC plans simpler SRM rules

3 May 2000

EC plans simpler SRM rules

By Philip Clarke

SPECIFIED risk material will have to be removed from cattle, sheep and goats throughout Europe from 1 July under a European Commission proposal.

In its latest attempt to force through some control on reluctant member states, Brussels is calling for a two-tier system across all member states.

It wants a long list of SRMs for “high-risk” countries, such as the UK and Portugal, and a shorter list for everyone else.

As far as the UK is concerned, there is nothing in the proposal that is not done already. Beef-on-the-bone and lamb chops will still be permitted.

But for Portugal, the commission wants the removal of vertebral column from animals over six months, as well as the head, thymus, spleen and intestines.

The two-tier system is much simpler than the four-tier approach previously taken, and has been welcomed by UK farming and meat trade organisations.

The commission has been trying to introduce SRM controls for five years.

But it has consistently run into opposition from countries such as Germany and Austria, which claim to have never had a case of BSE.

This was questioned by the commission in Brussels this week.

The first-ever diagnosis of BSE in a native Danish cow in March this year raised doubts about the BSE-free status of many countries, it suggested.

“We should learn the lesson,” said consumer affairs commissioner, David Byrne. “The need to have an EU-wide scheme to remove SRMs is long overdue.”

Indicative of the urgency with which the commission is addressing this issue, the proposal will be put to the Standing Veterinary Committee on Friday (10 May).

“If they fail to adopt it, it will go to the next farm council on 15 May,” said commission spokeswoman, Beatte Gminder.

But it is unlikely to get clear passage, according to Helene Judge of the Meat and Livestock Commissions Brussels Office.

“Portugal will be furious that it is facing a bone-in beef ban, and most member states will oppose removing the ileum and spleen from sheep, as proposed.”

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