Food Law News - UK - 2003

FSA Press Release (2003/0302), 13 January 2003

BSE - Specified Risk Material found in Spanish beef

Specified risk material (SRM) has been found in two consignments of beef quarters produced in Spain.

The parts of the animal most likely to contain BSE infectivity are known as SRM. 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 first discovery was made during an inspection by the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) on 17 December. A mixed consignment of 222 hindquarters of beef was found to contain two quarters with spinal cord still attached. Spinal cord is SRM. This was a consignment of 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 Fribin (SAT 1269 RL) in Huesca, Aragon and Escorxador Sabadell in Barcelona. The meat was then held in a cold store in Lerida - S.A.T. (1596 NUFRI RL). The consignment arrived at Wholesale Meat Supply Ltd, Great Harwood, Blackburn.

The second discovery on 31 December, also made at Wholesale Meat Supply Ltd, involving a mixed consignment of 453 hindquarters of beef, found a further two quarters with spinal cord still attached. The consignment, similarly of intervention beef slaughtered in February 2001, was produced at both the slaughterhouse in Huesca (as above) and at OMSA Alimentacion in Calamocha, Teruel.

The meat was held at the same cold store as above in Lerida. In both cases the receiving company in the UK was not responsible for the problem.

These two SRM breaches bring the total number found in imported meat since 1 January 2001 to 46 and the number of cases involving Spanish beef to seven.

This latest case also makes it the thirteenth (the fourth involving Spain) SRM breach found in imported intervention beef since August 2002.

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 four hindquarters of beef involved 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 these breaches.

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