New legislation, coming into force 1 January 1998, will mean that the heads, tonsils and spinal cords from sheep and goats over a year old will have to be destroyed. This will also apply to the spleen of all sheep and goats.
This supplements existing controls which already covered removal of heads, spinal cord and other offal of cattle, and the heads of sheep and goats. The majority of sheepmeat consumed is young lamb, which is unaffected by this measure.
Agriculture Minister Dr Jack Cunningham said:
"This legislation will implement rules that were agreed in July 1997 following pressure from the UK. We will continue to press for European-wide standards on safe meat that reflect our commitment to consumer protection."
Further measures will include prohibiting the use of vertebral columns of animals of all ages for mechanically recovered meat. The rules will also simplify existing controls on specified bovine material, as well as equivalent material from sheep and goats, by moving them into one Statutory Instrument. A consultation document is being sent today to relevant organisations and interested parties.