The Chief Medical Officers of the UK met to consider their advice to their respective ministers on the safety risk from eating beef on the bone. Taking into account a recent analysis carried out by a team of scientists from Oxford University, led by Professor Roy Anderson, the CMOs have agreed that the ban on sales should be lifted. This will take effect from Friday, 17 December.
In a statement to the House of Commons, Nick Brown said :
"I am pleased to be able to announce the Government's intention to lift the retail ban on beef-on-the-bone.
This follows further advice from the Chief Medical Officers who now collectively agree that it is possible to lift the ban on retail sales. I and the Secretary of State for Health have accepted this advice. I am placing a copy of the advice in the House library today. Officials of my Department will later today be consulting on draft proposals to lift in England the ban on the retailing of beef-on-the-bone. This includes lifting the ban on food prepared for direct sale to consumers in restaurants and other catering establishments.
Similar consultations will be taking place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to lift the ban there also.
As recommended by the Chief Medical Officers, the ban on the use of bones for manufacturing food products (including infant foods), which lies at the extreme end of BSE protection measures, will remain in place. This also has the effect of preserving explicit consumer choice.
This lifting of the ban has been long awaited and I am delighted that it can now go ahead. The announcement will bring a welcome boost to the beef industry in what continue to be difficult times. I believe that we need to move forward as quickly as possible with the consultation on relaxing the present controls. In addition, and subject to the consent of the House, I propose to use the accelerated procedure for making the regulations to allow retail sales to take place before Christmas. Consultation will start today with the aim that the amending regulations will take effect on Friday 17 December. These proposals will take effect in England only but it is intended that similar legislation will be implemented in the other parts of the UK to the same time-table.
I know that enforcement authorities will wish to take note of my statement today and of the Government's clear intention to implement the lifting of the ban by 17 December.
The ban on selling beef on the bone was introduced by the then Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Dr Jack Cunningham on 16 December 1997.