BSE controls have detected remnants of spinal cord in two consignments of beef quarters imported into Northern Ireland from Germany, breaching EU rules.

Spinal cord is on the list of specified risk material (SRM) which, under EU law, must be removed from cattle aged over 12 months immediately after slaughter. New EU-wide SRM controls came into force throughout Europe on 1st January this year.

The discovery was made yesterday (17th January) in 41,000 kilos of German beef. Both consignments have been detained at two meat-processing plants in Newry, County Down, and the affected material is likely to be destroyed.
They consisted of:

    20,503 kgs – 221 quarters – from Landkreis Gustrow, which was detained by vets from the Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD). Two forequarters were each found to contain one piece of spinal cord.

    20,399 kgs – 192 quarters – from Kreis Minden-Lubbecke, which was also detained by DARD staff   after this consignment had been divided into two, part of which was found to contain spinal cord.

Certification states that the carcases were under 30 months of age, and therefore abided by the EU-wide rule which – from 1st January this year – prohibits the entry into the food chain of cattle over 30 months of age (the OTM rule), unless they have tested negative for BSE.

Morris McAllister, Director of the Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland, said today: “This shows the importance of robust inspection systems in the UK. None of this meat will get anywhere near the human food chain, thanks to decisive action by the Food Standards Agency and our colleagues in the Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture and Rural

Suzi Leather, Deputy Chair of the Food Standards Agency, said: “It is vital that consumers are properly protected from the risks of BSE. That is why we asked for enforcement authorities to step up their checks on imported beef. Consumers have the right to be reassured that European-wide controls are being effectively enforced. We have referred this breach of EU BSE controls for an investigation by the German authorities and the European


UK imports of bovine carcase meat from Germany between September 1999 and August 2000 totalled 1,337 tonnes (excludes offal).