UK open to German bone-in beef

12 February 2001

UK open to German bone-in beef

By Alistair Driver

BRITISH meat processors will still be allowed to import beef on the bone from Germany despite a ban on German sales which comes into effect in April.

The British Meat Federation (BMF) claims that a ban on German beef on the bone, introduced because of BSE, makes no difference to British processors.

Imports of German beef on the bone would be unaffected as long as the meat went straight to UK de-boning plants, said BMF director general Peter Scott.

This means that German beef outlawed because of the risk that it carries BSE will be shipped to Britain, even though it is banned for sale in Germany.

Mr Scott said British consumers would not be at risk because the German meat would be de-boned. Besides, BSE was far lower in Germany than in the UK.

A spokesman for the Food Standards Agency confirmed that German beef would still be allowed into the UK as long as it was de-boned after arrival.

“There is certainly a lot of confusion over this issue in Brussels,” he said.

As a precaution against BSE, all member states except the UK, Austria, Finland and Sweden must remove the spines of cattle over 12-months-old from 1 April.

But Robert Forster, chief executive of the National Beef Association, accused Mr Scott of trying to cloud the issue in a bid to protect his members interests.

Mr Forster said he had been told by the Ministry of Agriculture that beef on the bone could not be imported from countries where it was banned.

“How could we be allowed to import something that is banned in the country in which it is produced,” he said.

“The BMF is trying to confuse the issue.”

The ban should be properly interpreted, which would help British producers who are under huge pressure from “half-priced” German beef, said Mr Forster.

British importers and meat processing companies should stop importing beef on the bone from Germany even before the ban is introduced on 1 April, he added.

In the past four weeks, four consignments of German beef have been discovered by UK meat inspectors to contain outlawed spinal cord.

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