Food Law News - EU - 1998

25 February 1998: BEEF - Cunningham Responds to EU Proposals

MAFF News Release (74/98), 25 February 1998

Cunningham Responds to EU Proposals

Responding to the Commission's announcement that it had endorsed a new proposal on EU controls on Specified Risk Material (SRM), Jack Cunningham said today:
"I welcome the fact that the Commission has now made a new proposal for EU-wide controls on specified risk material, and has also endorsed the UK Government's position on beef bones and dorsal root ganglion. The decision last December to delay the introduction of EU-wide SRM controls agreed in July 1997 was not acceptable. We had clear advice last year from our independent scientific advisory committee, SEAC, that because controls overseas were patchy, unlike our strict controls in the UK, imports posed a threat to our public health. That is why, given the delay in acting at EU level, I introduced national SRM controls in respect of imports from 1 January this year.

"We will need to study the Commission's proposal carefully to ensure that it provides adequate protection for our consumers. At first sight, the proposal gives rise to some concerns. The Commission seem to be providing for a further delay in implementing the rules, and for derogations for some member states. It is difficult to see how such derogations can be justified in a single market.

"I want the Commission to work on the precautionary principle, under which safeguards are put in place while the case for any derogations are considered rigorously and carefully. Consumers must not be put at risk through an absence of safeguards during this period.

"Let me make it clear that there is no question of the UK lifting its national SRM controls on imports until we are absolutely convinced that the EU rules provide the necessary equivalent protection for our consumers."

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