What does it mean for consumers?

The current outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in England does not pose a threat to food safety.

The temporary controls imposed yesterday (21st February) by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) on the export of live animals, meat, and dairy products from the UK have come into force on grounds of animal health, not food safety, because meat and dairy products can be a vehicle for transmitting the virus to other animals.

In a Statement on behalf of the Government yesterday (21st February), MAFF Minister Lady Hayman reported the advice of the Food Standards Agency that “cases of foot and mouth disease have no implications for the human food chain”. This statement was widely reported by the media.

Contrary to reports in some newspapers, all fresh meat currently on retail sale will be unaffected by FMD, and there are no implications for meats which have been cooked or processed. Milk, cheese, and other dairy products may continue to be safely consumed. There was one case where raw (unpasteurised) milk was allegedly involved in the transmission of FMD to a person, but this remains unsubstantiated.


Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) – Tel: 0845-0504141.

Information is also on the MAFF website, www.maff.gov.uk

Responsible for the management of FMD and relevant enforcement measures; animal movements; export controls; compensation for farmers, and the State Veterinary Service.

Department of Health – Tel: 020-7210-4850

Information about infectious diseases is on the DH website, www.doh.gov.uk

Responsible for advice on the susceptibility of humans to infection by FMD.

Meat Hygiene Service – Tel: 01904 – 455164

Responsible for enforcing meat hygiene regulations in abattoirs and meat cutting plants, including ante-mortem and post-mortem veterinary inspection of animals and carcasses.

Scottish Executive: 0131-244-6178

Agriculture Policy Division, National Assembly for Wales: 02920-823831