UK Government tightens up older cattle entering the food chain to reduce the risk of BSE.
Defra Minister Jim Paice today announced that he has written to the 18,000 keepers of animals born or reared in the UK before 1 August 1996 to inform them of the new movement restrictions being placed on them.
These additional controls are being introduced in response to a Government investigation that found illegal trade in these animals by a few individuals. During February 2011, a cattle dealer in Cumbria was jailed for 10 months for sending an over-age animal to slaughter for food and deliberately seeking to alter its identity to make it eligible for human consumption. The offence was spotted by an abattoir vet and reported to trading standards officials.
After the BSE crisis, farmers and those keeping livestock have been told that no cattle born or reared in the UK before 1 August 1996 will be allowed to be transported without an individual movement licence.
Infected meat has been blamed for most of the 170 deaths from variant CJD, the human form of BSE, in the UK – a handful have been caused by contaminated blood products – and a battery of rules are meant to protect consumers.
Commenting, Harvey Locke, President of the BVA, said:
“It is unfortunate that the illegal activities of a few individuals have caused Defra to introduce these additional measures, but we strongly welcome the initiative. BSE had a devastating effect on the UK’s livestock industry, but it has been successfully brought under control by strict adherence to the legislation.
“The additional controls announced today will only affect a small number of owners, but will ensure that our safety measures against BSE remain robust.”
Agriculture minister Jim Paice said: “The industry has worked hard over the years to ensure British beef regained the good reputation it deserves, both home and abroad. We want to maintain this reputation so it is sensible to introduce the extra safeguard. It should not have much impact on most cattle keepers but it will give us additional confidence that these animals do not enter the food chain.”
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