Agriculture Minister Jack Cunningham decided to go it alone when the European Commission announced a delay on EU-wide specified risk material (SRM) controls. The decision means that specified risk material SRM will be removed from all domestic or imported beef, sheep and goat meat,
Dr Cunningham said:
"I promised the British public action by 1 January and I am keeping that promise. I am disappointed that this same action hasn't been implemented at the same time on a European wide basis. The Government is committed to acting on the best scientific advice in the best interests of the British public.
"I accepted SEAC's advice that our existing controls on specified bovine material and head of sheep and goats should be extended to cover the spleen of all sheep and goats and the spinal chord of sheep and goats aged over 12 months. In addition I made clear that these controls be applied to imported meat. In July the Commission adopted the decision to introduce, on 1 January 1998, Community-wide controls on SRM. The European Commission has since proposed the postponement of implementing this decision.
"In the interest of public health, I will introduce unilateral controls in Great Britain equivalent to those covered in the Commission Decision."
The Specified Risk Material Regulations 1997 and the Specified Risk Material Order 1997 will come into force 1 January 1998. Together, they will consolidate existing legislation providing for destruction of certain bovine materials and heads of sheep and goats and extend them to the extra sheep and goat offals advised by SEAC.
The news Release includes the following notes: