The Food Standards Agency welcomes todays Agriculture Council decision to step up protection measures across Europe for consumers against BSE.

The measures include:

  • the ban on cattle over thirty months old entering the food chain unless they have tested negative for BSE;
  • a temporary ban on the feeding of meat and bonemeal to farm animals from 1 January 2001;
  • all bovine intestines to be classified as specified risk material (SRM) and therefore removed at slaughter.

Member states also agreed to speed up moves to implement comprehensive labelling for beef and beef products.

Commenting on the Council’s decision, Food Standards Agency Chairman, Sir John Krebs, said today:

“The Agriculture Council’s decision to introduce further controls against BSE across Europe is an important step in improving protection for the UK consumer. It is essential that these measures are implemented as quickly as possible and that they are fully and effectively enforced.

“These moves bring other member states closer to the consumer protection measures in place in the UK and to the Agency’s recommendations arising from our current review of BSE controls.

“The UK ban on meat from cattle over thirty months entering the food chain needs to be maintained as an extra measure of protection for the UK consumer. Initial findings from increased local authority enforcement activity on imports show an encouraging level of compliance.”

France has deferred implementing its unilateral ban on sale of beef on the backbone – T-bone steak – pending further assessment of the risk by the EU’s Scientific Steering Committee. Following a meeting with French officials and the new measures agreed by the Agriculture Council, the Food Standards Agency has decided that no additional measures are currently needed in the UK to protect consumers from beef imports from France and other European countries.

A SEAC sub-group met today to look at risk assessment on imported beef and beef products. The group will report back to the whole SEAC committee.