Spinal cord has been found - for the second time this month - in beef imported from The Netherlands 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 was made on Tuesday (21st August) in four out of 236 quarters of beef being unloaded at ADM, Eastbourne. The receiving company was not responsible for the problem. The beef came from Exportslachterij J. Gosschalk en Zn. BV, of Oenerweg, Epe, The Netherlands. On Tuesday 7th August, SRM was found in one out of 200 quarters of beef, also unloaded at ADM Eastbourne. This beef came from Domburg Vlees BV, Bodegraven, The Netherlands.

The beef involved this week has been detained under the Products of Animal Origin (Import and Export) Regulations pending possible inspection by the Dutch authorities, and subsequent disposal under the supervision of the Meat Hygiene Service (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 The Netherlands and the European Commission have been notified of this breach

The name of the Dutch abattoir concerned will be added to the list of European abattoirs from which beef containing spinal cord has been imported into the UK.

While SRM is among those parts of the animal most likely to contain BSE infectivity, the results so far of BSE tests conducted on healthy cattle across the EU have been described as encouraging, tending to indicate that there is no massive, hidden BSE epidemic in Europe. In The Netherlands there were only two positive tests out of 159,546 animals tested between January and the end of June this year.

NOTES FOR EDITORS

  1. The following table gives cumulative figures for the numbers of healthy cattle tested for BSE from January to the end of June 2001, across all EU Member States. It does not include BSE suspect animals (those reported as BSE suspects) nor "at risk" animals (defined as those found dead-on-farm; emergency slaughtered animals, and those sent for normal slaughter but found to be sick at ante-mortem inspection). Adult cattle are defined as those aged 24 months or over.

RESULTS OF BSE TESTING IN THE EU, January to end June 2001

(Healthy animals only)

COUNTRY

ADULT CATTLE
(MILLIONS)

NO. OF HEALTHY ANIMALS TESTED

OF WHICH NO. OF POSITIVES
(PENDING)

Belgium

1.5

149,814

11

Denmark

0.9

115,695

0

Germany

6.6

1,074,999

21

Greece

0.3

6,136

0 (34)

Spain

3.4

117,228

22 (6)

France

11.0

970,781

30

Republic of Ireland

3.4

120,602

5

Italy

3.4

115,516

10

Luxembourg

0.1

12,143

0

Netherlands

1.8

159,546

2

Austria

1.0

90,905

0

Portugal

0.8

6,155

1 (42 pending)

Finland

0.4

2,351

0

Sweden

0.7

0

0

United Kingdom

5.3

345 (GB only)

0

       

TOTAL

40.8

2,942,216

102 (82 pending)