Meat firms ignored rules on BSE

23 September 1998

‘Meat firms ignored rules on BSE’

By FWi staff

MEAT with a high risk of carrying mad cow disease could have entered the human food chain because abattoirs flouted Government guidelines, according to a former Government vet.

Andrew Fleetwood will tell the BSE Inquiry today (Wednesday) that there was “widespread and flagrant infringement” by abattoirs of rules intended to prevent the use in food of “Specified Bovine Offals” (SBOs).

New laws banning the use of SBOs for food came into force in November 1989, three years after the official recognition of BSE.

But Dr Fleetwood says in written evidence to the BSE Inquiry that he had seen a letter from a consultant to the meat industry in June 1995. The letter said that “unscrupulous abattoirs had cheated and would continue to cheat the SBO legislation”.

SBOs were meant to be removed from carcasses and stained blue to prevent them being used in food. But Mr Fleetwood became suspicious in July 1994 when he compared actual and expected amounts of SBO recorded by rendering companies.

The difference implied that unstained SBOs were being put into food. Dr Fleetwood said that Government veterinary inspectors failed to clamp down on the problem.

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