20 November 2000
‘French flooding UK with old beef’
By FWi staff
FRENCH farmers who have seen their home market collapse due to BSE scares are flooding Britain with cheap beef, reports the Daily Mail.
British producers claim rules to stop beef from animals aged over 30 months coming to this country are widely flouted.
Farmers claim importers get round the Over Thirty Months Scheme rules by sending meat to cutting plants in Ireland and Holland.
Once processed in another country, meat can be labelled as produce of that country.
The Mail says officially beef directly imported from France adds up to 5000 tonnes – less than one per cent of total consumption.
But it claims that the figure could be much higher, particularly because meat in the catering trade is often more difficult to trace.
Hugh Leman of Coventry-based Cumberland Meat Packers said 1 million tonnes of beef from old cows has been imported in the past five years, in defiance of the ban.
Meanwhile, the Conservatives are to apply to the Whitehall Ombudsman to publish advice received from the Food Standards Agency on the risk posed by French beef.
Tory agriculture spokesman Yim Yeo said he would press ministers to live up to transparency promised when the FSA was set up, reports The Daily Telegraph.
Unless up-to-date information was released, Mr Yeo said he would apply for access to papers under terms of the Code of Open Government.
In another development, Scottish butchers have called for French beef imports to be banned.
Without this, they say the billions of pounds spent eradicating BSE in the UK could be wasted.
And Germany is prepared to violate European law and ban British beef if a meeting of EU farm ministers on Monday (20 November) fails to produce concessions on testing.
As panic over BSE spreads, Germany is expected to rush through safeguards this week, reports The Times.
German newspapers have expressed fears about infected lamb, and speculated about the safety of doner kebabs, the countrys favourite fast food.