UK inspectors have detected the remnant of spinal cord in a consignment of beef quarters imported from Germany into a meat cutting plant at Eastbourne.

Spinal cord is on the list of specified risk material (SRM) which, under EU law, must be removed from cattle aged over 12 months and destroyed. The EU-wide SRM controls came into force on 1st October last year.

The discovery was made today (29th January) in a consignment of 19,000 kilos of German beef. The affected carcass will be destroyed. The consignment of 216 hindquarters from Oldenburg was detained by a vet from the Meat Hygiene Service. One hindquarter was found to contain two-inches of spinal cord.

The meat had come into the UK yesterday (28th January) through Dover by road. All of the load has been traced and inspected. The 215 carcasses that did not contain SRM will be released.

The seizure follows a similar find of spinal cord in Northern Ireland in 40,000 kilos of beef imported from Germany on 18th January.

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The Food Standards Agency has issued instructions that the Meat Hygience Service and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for Northern Ireland step up their inspection of imported German carcasses at licenced plants from midnight tonight (29th January).

This will result in 100% inspection of imported German beef carcasses in licenced plants.(1)

Sir John Krebs, Chairman of the Food Standards Agency, said today: “This shows the importance of a robust UK inspection system. In both this breach, and the one two weeks ago, none of the meat will get into the human food chain, thanks to the intervention of inspectors.

” This second breach within two weeks in imported meat from Germany is totally unacceptable. It raises questions as to how effectively the EU-wide controls are being enforced. At the request of the FSA, the European Commission are already raising with the German authorities the need for them to fully comply with the SRM controls.

” The additional inspections that the Agency has ordered will increase consumer protection. Through the enhanced inspections the Agency will monitor and make public its view as to whether German beef imports meet the required standards. If not we will then take the appropriate action.”


  1. These measures are temporary and risk based to apply to German imports.
  2. UK imports of bovine carcase meat from Germany between September 1999 and August 2000   totalled 1,337 tonnes (excludes offal).
  3. The Over Thirty Month rule also applies to imported beef and is a major element in reducing the   risks from BSE.