Spinal cord has been found in German beef imported into the UK.

Bovine spinal cord is classified as specified risk material (SRM) and is therefore among those parts of the animal most likely to contain BSE infectivity. Under European law, SRM must be removed immediately after slaughter, stained, and disposed of safely.

The discovery, made during an inspection by the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) on 11 October, involved one quarter carcass out of a consignment of 182 beef quarters being unloaded at ADM (UK), Eastbourne. The receiving company was not responsible for the problem.

The UK Food Standards Agency said it understood the animal was slaughtered by Basche in Itzehoe, Schleswig-Holstein in January 2001 and the consignor was BLE Referat in Frankfurt. The meat had been held in an intervention cold store in the Netherlands since then.

This is the thirteenth case of SRM in imported German beef and the first case involving this particular slaughterhouse. This is also the fifth case of SRM being found in imported intervention beef in the last two months.

The FSA took up the issue of SRM in ex-intervention beef with the European Commission earlier this month. As a result the Commission has instructed all EU Member States selling intervention beef to ensure that all spinal cord is removed before release.

The beef quarter involved in this latest case has been detained under the Products of Animal Origin (Import and Export) Regulations for disposal under the supervision of the MHS. The rest of the consignment was checked by the MHS and found to be in full compliance with the relevant legislation. The Chief Veterinary Officer of Germany and the European Commission have been notified of this breach.