FSA Press Release (2002/0296), 20 December 2002
Specified risk material (SRM) has been found in two separate consignments of beef from Spain and 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.
In the first case the SRM breach was discovered during an inspection by the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) on 10 December. The consignment contained 18 hindquater carcasses with spinal cord still attached out of a total of 251 hindquaters of beef. Spinal cord is SRM.
The breach involved intervention beef, from animals slaughtered in February 2001 at two different slaughterhouses in Spain and held in a Spanish cold store. The slaughterhouses involved were Corporacion Alimentaria Guissona in Lerida and Carns Palleja in Barcelona. Both were then held in a cold store in Lerida - Frigorificos Urgel. The consignment was unloaded at Wholesale Meat Supply Ltd, Great Harwood, Blackburn. The receiving company was not responsible for the problem.
This is the 42nd SRM breach found in non-UK origin beef since 1 January 2001 and the fifth case involving Spanish beef. This is also the eleventh case (the second involving Spain) of SRM being found in non-UK origin intervention beef in the past four months.
The Food Standards Agency took up the issue of SRM in ex-intervention beef with the European Commission in October. As a result the Commission has instructed all EU Member States selling intervention beef to ensure that all spinal cord is removed before release.
In view of the continuing problems over intervention beef, the Agency has again written to the Beef Management Committee at the European Commission, requesting the Committee to discuss, at the earliest possible time, the practical problems involved in inspecting spinal cord in frozen carcasses.
The 18 hindquaters of beef have been detained under the Products of Animal Origin (Import and Export) regulations and will be destroyed. The Deputy Director General of the Spanish Food Safety Agency and the European Commission have been notified of this breach.
In the second case the SRM breach was discovered on 11 December. The MHS found that a consignment of 160 cartons of beef, produced in Ireland, contained vertebral column and was also incorrectly labelled. The consignment was unloaded at Channel Meats Lts, Smithfield Market, London. 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 abattoir, Q.K. Meats Ltd in Naas, Co.Kildare, before its dispatch to the UK. This is the 43rd SRM breach and the 8th case involving Irish beef.
In the Irish case, 120 boxes have been detained under the under the Products of Animal Origin (Import and Export) Regulations and will be destroyed. The Chief Veterinary Officer for the Irish Food Safety Authority, and the European Commission have been notified of this breach.