The United Kingdom first put forward in February 1997 a proposal for an Export Certified Herd Scheme, with a view to lifting the restrictions. Following rejection by the Scientific Veterinary Committee in June, the United Kingdom put forward a modified proposal in July. On this proposal the Scientific Veterinary Committee stated on 17 September 1997 that the major obstacle, for lifting the restrictions everywhere in the United Kingdom, was the lack of a comprehensive computerised movement and tracing system and associated database in operation on its entire territory. However, since such a system exists in Northern Ireland, lifting of the restrictions for this area could be considered on condition that minor modifications were made in order to comply with certification and control requirements. Following the recommendations of the feasibility inspection by the Food and Veterinary Organisation of the European Commission (FVO) in early November 1997, further improvements in relation to the dispatch of beef from animals slaughtered in Northern Ireland were agreed.
A certified herd is defined as one in which for at least 8 years, there has been no confirmed case of BSE, nor a suspect case for which the diagnosis of BSE has not been ruled out, in any animal when still in this herd or in any animal after it moved from this herd.
The meat from an animal is eligible for export provided all records of its lifetime and movements are recorded on an official computerised tracing system, the animal is more than 6 months old and less then 30 months and the herd of birth and all herds through which the animal has ever moved can be considered as certified herds. The proposal lays down a series of stipulations designed to ensure strict official controls, labelling and certification and the traceability of meat and meat products back to the herd of origin.
Problems have arisen in the past with the export from the UK of beef and beef products which were not of UK origin. This proposal clarifies that these exports can take place without pre-inspection by the Commission and puts in place a Community system of controls, labelling and traceability for all such products.
Finally ambiguities in the conditions for the export of pet food containing meat and bone meal from the UK have caused problems for trade in this product in the past. This proposal specifies that the export of pet food from the UK is authorised provided it does not contain mammalian meat and bone meal.