Scientists have reiterated that it is now safe for UK consumers to eat meat from cattle over 30 months old, but a ban on such meat entering the food chain is unlikely to be lifted just yet.

The comments came as the government ordered previous assessments to be rechecked, reported BBC News Online. Government advisers concluded last year that the risks of older cattle being infected with BSE were negligible.

However, since that assessment the ban on meat from animals over 30 months old entering the food chain has remained in place. Since 1996, cattle older than 30 months have been bought by the government to prevent their meat entering the food chain, at a cost of £300m (US$554.6m) per year to UK taxpayers.

There are apparently concerns among some Department of Health officials that some scientific questions still need to be answered before the ban can be lifted.