Food Law News - EU - 1999

29 October 1999: BEEF - Discussions on Bovine meat

SPEECH/99/147, 29 October 1999

Discussions on Bovine meat

Statement by Franz FISCHLER Member of the European Commission responsible for Agriculture and Rural Development on behalf of David BYRNE Member of the European Commission responsible for Health and Consumer Protection to the European Parliament

At the Florence summit in June 1996, the heads of Government agreed to take any decision on lifting the UK embargo "only and exclusively on the basis of public health and objective scientific criteria and of the judgement of the Commission, in accordance with the existing procedures, that these criteria have been satisfied."

The conditions for the Scheme are very demanding. First the UK had to slaughter offspring, which could otherwise be eligible, of known BSE cases before the Scheme could be operational. This cull continues for new BSE cases. Then, the only eligible products are; deboned meat and a limited range of derived products, of animals between 6 and 30 months of age and born after the effective feed ban, that is born after 1 August 1996. In addition to that, there are not only stringent conditions to the identification and traceability of both the animal and its dam, but also to the absence of any suspicion of BSE its dam. Finally, stringent specific controls and full dedication are required from the entire production chain.

These controls are under the competence of the UK authorities. But prior to setting the date at which exports under the Scheme were to commence, a mission of the Food and Veterinary Office to inspect the operation of the Scheme was carried out. This led to a satisfactory conclusion and allowed that date to be set at 1 August 1999. This year only already two inspections in the UK were dedicated to auditing the DBES controls, namely in April and again in October.

The opinion issued by AFSSA on 30 September 1999, concerning the lifting of the ban for bovine meat and meat products of UK origin, comes to an unfavourable conclusion on the basis of arguments related to scientific and control matters.

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