Food Law News - UK - 2002

FSA Press Release (2002/0213), 17 April 2002

BSE - Spinal cord found in health-marked UK beef - MHS launches investigation

The Meat Hygiene Service has launched an urgent inquiry following the finding of spinal cord in a quarter of beef that was health-marked as fit for human consumption.

The MHS is investigating the role of its inspectors in this SRM failure and why the beef carcase was health-marked at A&G Barber slaughterhouse in Chelmsford. The discovery was made on Friday 12 April 2002 during an inspection by the MHS of meat being unloaded at GM Matthews (Butchers) Ltd, Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex.

The receiving plant was not responsible for the problem. The beef originated from A&G Barber in Chelmsford but had come via Weddel Swift, a meat plant in Brighton.

Bovine spinal cord from animals over six months is classified as specified risk material (SRM) and is therefore among those parts of the animal most likely to contain BSE infectivity.

By law, SRM must be removed immediately after slaughter, stained, and disposed of safely. The European Commission has been notified of this SRM breach.

The beef quarter involved has been detained for disposal, eliminating any possibility of it entering the food chain.

The remainder of the 38 carcases of the animals slaughtered on the same day at the abbatoir concerned are also being traced and examined to see if there are any further problems.

Reports so far indicate the other carcases are satisfactory in all respects but investigations continue.

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