Food Law News - UK - 2003

FSA Press Release (2003/0304), 21 January 2003

BSE - Specified Risk Material found in Spanish beef

Specified risk material (SRM) has been found in a consignment of beef quarters produced at a slaughterhouse 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 discovery was made during an inspection by the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) on 7 January. A mixed consignment of 237 hindquarters of beef was found to contain one hindquarter with spinal cord still attached. Spinal cord is SRM.

This was a consignment of intervention beef from animals slaughtered in February 2001 at Escorxador Sabadell in Barcelona and held in a Spanish cold store in Lerida (S.A.T.1596 NUFRI RL). The consignment arrived at Wholesale Meat Supply Ltd, Great Harwood, Blackburn. The receiving company in the UK was not responsible for the problem.

The number of SRM breaches in meat of non-UK origin since 1 January 2001 now totals 47, including one instance of SRM in sheep-meat. This is the eighth case involving Spanish beef. This latest case also takes the total number of SRM breaches found in intervention beef of non-UK origin since August 2002 to 14 and is the 5th involving Spain.

The FSA 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 FSA 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 FSA will also raise the issue with the European Commission (Health and Consumer Affairs Directorate) and with EU Member States at the next meeting of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health in Brussels. Possible measures to tackle the issue of SRM in intervention beef will be discussed at this meeting on 23rd January.

The quarter of beef involved has 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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