Old beef on sale in pies and burgers

19 December 2000

‘Old beef on sale in pies and burgers’

By FWi staff

CONSUMERS are eating pies and burgers made from imported beef at risk from BSE, a Government advisor on the disease has warned.

Professor Harriet Kimbell of the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC) says a legal loophole is placing consumers in danger.

UK and foreign fresh beef aged over 30 months – which is most at risk from BSE – cannot legally be sold in Britain.

But over-thirty-months scheme (OTMS) rules do not apply to processed products from older foreign beef, raising fears that at-risk meat is entering the food chain.

Processed goods can be legally imported and UK manufacturers can buy older fresh meat in Europe to make burgers or pies to sell in Britain.

“In fact there is meat in this country that is over 30 months old sold quite legally. It is an anomaly,” Prof Kimbell told the Ananova website.

“We should not be eating meat over 30-months-old.”

She told Ananova she has no evidence that manufacturers are actually exploiting the loophole, but she suspects it is happening.

Earlier this month, the Food Standards Agency said there were no grounds for banning imports of French beef, despite a growing incidence of BSE there.

An FSA spokesman said Prof Kimbell was not at odds with the agency, but was reiterating a point it has already made.

He said: “We have recommended that the OTMS is tightened, for as it currently stands it is difficult to enforce and does not apply to certain meat products.”

Agency lawyers are currently looking at ways in which to close this loophole.

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