7 April 2001
Slaughtered animals for food chain?
B>by John Burns
HEALTHY animals slaughtered under foot-and-mouth regulations may be allowed into the human food chain as the government relaxes disease restrictions.
Sources within the meat trade believe that a new scheme to allow meat from carefully selected animals into the food chain will be announced within days.
Such a scheme would ease animal welfare problems among healthy livestock trapped in fields on farms because of foot-and-mouth movement restrictions.
It is understood the appropriate application forms have already been
distributed to the Ministry of Agricultures regional offices.
The scheme has to be approved by the Euroepan Union before it can be introduced, confirmed a MAFF spokesman.
Even then it will face many practical problems, such as finding enough vets to inspect livestock and the administrative task of keeping track of the animals.
Ministers will be eager to avoid selecting livestock which may later have to be slaughtered if the farm next-door subsequently falls victim to foot-and-mouth.
There is also talk about whether meat which goes into the food chain from infected areas should be separately labelled and if so what a label should indicate.
Farmers with suitable stock in infected areas will want to know soon when the scheme starts so they can feed livestock with the food chain outlet in mind.
Such a scheme would ease the burden on the Welfare Disposal Scheme and help appease critics who oppose the disposal of healthy carcasses in landfill sites.
In the south-west of England there is a strong feeling that if the carcasses are as safe as MAFF insists then they should be put into the food chain.
An abattoir spokesman said they were desperate for livestock, especially pigs, and the new scheme could not start soon enough.