By FWi staff
LIFTING the age restrictions on cattle slaughtered for human consumption could take place this year, according to the National Beef Association.
The NBA believes there are signs that the governments independent scientific advisors on BSE, SEAC, may be prepared to lift the age qualification for beef cattle for human consumption to 36 months after forthcoming six monthly reviews.
NBA vice-chairman, John Bell said SEAC had accepted that the risk to humans was already extremely small.
“And it is worth noting that even two years ago other government advisors put the risk of contracting nvCJD from eating beef on the bone as something like one billion to one.”
Since then the number of sub-clinical cases of BSE among the two million under-thirty-month animals slaughtered for food each year has subsided to almost invisible levels, said Mr Bell.
“And the same could soon be said for animals between 30-36 months old – all of which have been reared since MBM was removed from animal feed in August 1996.”
The NBA claims that, at present, over 60,000 prime cattle of 30-36 months of age are killed under OTMS rules.
If included in the food chain, the NBA believes this would immediately substitute up to 20,000 tonnes of imports.
“The UK needs to supply all the beef it can to defend its home-killed premium,” said Mr Bell.
“This is being undermined by the amazingly high number of late-maturing steers that miss the 30-month deadline,” he said.