Food Law News - UK - 2002

FSA News Item, 9 December 2002

BSE - Specified risk material found in Irish beef

Specified risk material (SRM) has been found in a consignment of boxed bone-in beef from the Republic of Ireland. SRM is that part of the animal most likely to contain BSE infectivity. Under European law, SRM must be removed and disposed of safely.

In addition only cattle under 30 months in the UK are permitted to enter the food chain. Other EU states allow cattle over 30 months, but only after being tested for BSE.

The SRM breach was discovered during an inspection by the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) on 21 November. A consignment of 56 loins of beef were each found to contain vertebral column. The consignment was unloaded at Norish Foodcare Ltd, a licensed coldstore in Brierley Hill, West Midlands. The receiving company was not responsible for the problem.

The vertebral column should have been removed when the meat was being cut up at the Irish cutting plant, Vanstar Ireland Ltd in Jamestown, Co Leitrim, before its dispatch to the UK. This is the 39th SRM breach found in non-UK origin beef since 1 January 2001 and the sixth case involving Irish beef. However, it is only the second case concerning vertebral column in boxed beef. All the other cases involved spinal cord.

The entire consignment in this latest case has been detained under the Products of Animal Origin (Import and Export) Regulations (1996) for disposal under the supervision of the MHS. The Chief Veterinary Officer for Ireland and the European Commission have been notified of this breach.

Vertebral column from bovine animals aged over 12 months (including dorsal root ganglia but excluding the vertebrae of the tail and the transverse process of the lumbar vertebrae) is SRM and must be removed when the beef is cut into pieces smaller than a quarter carcass.

Exceptionally, cattle of more than 30 months of age from certain specialist beef herds in the UK may enter the food chain, under the Beef Assurance Scheme.

In Ireland, 24 animals out of 383,918 healthy animals tested positive for BSE during the period January - September 2002

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