Food Law News - UK - 2003

FSA Press Release (2003/0298), 2 January 2003

BSE - Specified Risk Material found in Irish beef

Specified risk material (SRM) has been found in a consignment of 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 by the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) on 16 December. The MHS found that, in a mixed consignment of beef, 70 cartons of beef fore ribs had vertebral column still present. Vertebral column is SRM in cuts of meat of this size. The cartons were also incorrectly labelled as boneless beef. The consignment was unloaded at Gordon Meats Ltd, 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 Ashbourne Meat Processors, Castleholding, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary, before its dispatch to the UK. This is the 44th instance since 1 January 2001 of SRM being found in imported beef and the 9th case involving Irish beef.

The 70 cartons have been detained under the Products of Animal Origin (Import and Export) Regulations and will be destroyed. The Chief Veterinary Officer for Ireland, and the European Commission, have been notified of this breach.

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