Spinal cord is included in the list of specified risk material (SRM) that is thought to be at greatest risk of carrying BSE infectivity. Under EU rules, it must be removed when the animal is slaughtered.
The discovery on Friday was made at a cutting plant in Blackburn, where quantities of spinal cord were discovered in two quarters of beef. It was part of a consignment of 268 quarters from the Fribin SAT abattoir, of Binepar, Spain. The beef was from animals aged under 30 months at the time of slaughter and therefore complied with the UK rules that prohibit the entry into the food chain of cattle aged over 30 months (the OTM rule).
The seizure follows the Food Standards Agency alerting the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) and all local authorities two weeks ago, after earlier findings of spinal cord in German and Dutch beef.
The Food Standards Agency is sending to the MHS and all local authorities details of the abattoirs that have breached the BSE controls. The Meat Hygiene Service continues to monitor the volume of imports, and is increasing staffing levels where necessary. Details in relation to this breach have been given to the Spanish Embassy in London, for forwarding to the relevant authorities in Spain.