Food Law News - UK - 2006

FSA News item, 30 June 2006

BEEF - Butchers get guide on removal of bovine SRM

The Agency and the Meat and Livestock Commission (MLC) have jointly produced an illustrated guide for authorised butchers, explaining how to remove specified risk material (SRM) vertebral column (backbone) correctly from cattle aged between 24 and 30 months.

The leaflet is also designed to help local authorities understand the legislative requirements.

Butchers wishing to remove SRM vertebral column from these animals must be authorised to do so by their local authority. Application packs can be obtained from local environmental health service departments.

Paul Holley, FSA Head of SRM Controls, said: ‘The Agency is delighted to have worked with the MLC on the production of this leaflet. It's been designed to be both straightforward and informative, and we hope that butchers who decide to obtain authorisation to remove SRM vertebral column will find it a useful aid.'

Following the lifting of the ban on the export of UK produced beef in May 2006, the UK was required to harmonise controls on SRM with the rest of Europe .

Harmonisation has meant that the vertebral column (backbone) of cattle is now designated as SRM in animals aged over 24 months rather than over 30 months, as was previously the case. To help reduce the impact of this change, the Agency agreed that the backbone of animals aged between 24 and 30 months of age can be removed in authorised butcher's shops.

Kim Matthews, Meat Scientist at the Meat and Livestock Commission, said: ‘This is a practical, illustrated guide designed to enable butchers to remove the vertebral column with the confidence that they are following the legal requirements. We were pleased to work with the FSA on this important project.'

A copy of the leaflet is available on the FSA website at:

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