The British government has said its calls for Europe to relax controls on UK beef exports have been backed by food safety experts in Brussels.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has said that the UK's BSE risk status should be reduced from 'high' to 'moderate', the same as most other EU countries, later this year.

EFSA added that the Date-Based Export Scheme (DBES) could be simplified, removing the rule that beef for export must be from cattle more than six months old whose mothers were alive six months after they were born.

"The government and industry have worked hard to control and eradicate BSE, and EFSA's view recognises this and is good news for British beef. We will keep on working closely with the European Commission and other member states to ensure that controls on UK beef exports are eased as soon as possible," said food and farming minister Larry Whitty.