The NFU today called for the European Commission to force Germany to get its house in order on beef or ban exports from that country immediately.

NFU President Ben Gill said British farmers - already suffering under the cosh of foot and mouth disease - had been angered and horrified to hear further reports that contaminated German beef has been imported into the UK.

The NFU's office in Brussels has already been in touch with the office of European Food Safety Commissioner David Byrne to call for the abattoir in Germany - and one in Holland - to be shut down immediately.

Mr Gill is also seeking an urgent meeting with Commissioner Byrne in Brussels on Monday where he will call for an immediate blanket ban on German exports if action has not been taken by then.

He said: "This is doubly crucial since our ban on moving animals to slaughter because of foot and mouth will inevitably suck in extra imports to Britain.

"British farmers - who have worked tirelessly to make our beef amongst the safest anywhere - should not have to put up with seeing sub-standard imports.

Nor should our consumers be put at risk.

"Germany has had repeated warnings on this. It is infuriating that a country that has lectured us on our standards in the past is so lax in implementing the rules we have had in place for years."

The call follows an announcement by the Food Standards Agency last night that consignments of German and Dutch beef containing spinal column banned by BSE rules had been caught in safety checks at Eastbourne.

He added: "This reinforces the urgent need to get limited and strictly controlled movements of British animals started as soon as possible so that we can make sure there is plenty of British beef on supermarket shelves.

"We are expecting an announcement today to enable this to happen under stringent conditions which must not compromise our fight to eradicate foot and mouth.

"In the meantime, the Food Standards Agency must keep up its vital working in checking all beef imports. It is only because of their work that this beef has not ended up on our shelves."

Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information provided in this document, the NFU cannot accept liability for errors and omissions.  This information should not be regarded as constituting legal advice, and should therefore not be relied upon as such.  NFU©

just-food.com published a feature on foot and mouth. To read it, click here.