Final push to get beef ban lifted

05 November 1998

Final push to get beef ban lifted

By FWi staff

THE final push to get British beef sold abroad again started today Thursday) after European veterinary experts voted narrowly in favour of lifting the export ban.

European veterinary officials in Brussels yesterday voted by eight votes to five to back a European Commission proposal allow the export of beef from younger cattle.

The move means the global ban on beef exports from the British mainland will almost certainly be eased later this month.

The decision was opposed by France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Austria. Luxembourg and the Netherlands abstained from the vote.

Under complicated EU procedures, yesterdays one vote failed to trigger immediate acceptance of the commissions plan, which will now be put to farm ministers at Farm Council in Brussels.

But the ban will be lifted if the voting pattern is repeated by farm ministers on 23 November.

Stringent conditions will then applied to meat cleared for export. It must be cleared at special plants and immediately taken off the bone.

EU inspectors will give the go-ahead once Britain considers the system is ready, probably early in the new year, officials said.

Beef will only be eligible for export if it comes from cattle born after 1 August, 1996, the date when Britain outlawed the use of meat and bonemeal, the animal feed. widely blamed for causing BSE.

EU officials said they believed there would be little immediate demand for British beef, given the public fear of BSE.

Tony Blair, the prime minister, hailed the decision as “a very big step forward”.

The beef export ban was imposed in March 1996 after the government announced a probable link between BSE and its human equivalent, a new variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.

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