Bovine spinal cord is classified as specified risk material (SRM) and is therefore among those parts of the animal most likely to contain BSE infectivity. Under European law, SRM must be removed immediately after slaughter, stained, and disposed of safely.
The discovery was made earlier this week in the neck vertebrae of two out of 158 forequarters of beef being unpacked at St Merryn Meat Ltd. (Victoria), Roche, which lies North-West of St Austell, Cornwall. The receiving company was not responsible for the problem. The beef came from Danish Crown, The Skive, Brarupsgade 6, 7800 Skive, Denmark. The remainder of the consignment has been voluntarily surrendered by Denmark Crown because there was no accompanying paperwork from the abattoir in Skive to indicate that the meat was from animals under 30 months of age. The whole consignment will be disposed of as SRM.
This violation has been raised with the Danish Chief Veterinary Officer, and with the European Commission. The Food Standards Agency will press for appropriate action to ensure that there is no recurrence at the abattoir concerned.
The Meat Hygiene Service and all local authorities - who have responsibility for inspecting beef imports - have been given the name of the Danish abattoir to add to the list of European abattoirs from which beef containing spinal cord has been imported into the UK. There have been only three confirmed cases of BSE in Denmark - two so far this year, and one last year.
Although this is the first instance in which spinal cord has been found in imported Danish beef, it is the 15th occasion since January this year when beef imported into the UK from other EU countries has been found to contain spinal cord. The other countries which have failed to abide by the BSE controls are: