British beef back in EU shops early 2006?

Based on a favourable report from the Commission’s Food and Veterinary Office, the Commission is about to draft a proposal to lift the export ban on British beef, in force since March 1996. 

On a mission in the UK, the Commission’s Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) has evaluated the implementation of UK’s protective measures against bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), better known as ‘mad cow’ disease. The final report concludes that “satisfactory progress was noted in most areas” and indicates that the UK is able to comply with the BSE measures in force in the EU.

The total feed ban introduced in the UK on 1 August 1996 banned the feeding of processed animal protein to farmed animals. This measure has led to a sharp fall in ‘mad cow’ cases in cattle born after July 1996 (from 37,280 cases in 1992 to 343 in 2004). Therefore, the Commission no longer considers animals born in the UK after 1 August 1996 to be more at risk of developing BSE than animals in other EU countries. 

The Commission’s proposal will need to secure the support of a qualified majority of the EU-25 and the approval of the European Parliament to be adopted. According to the Commission the ban may be lifted in early 2006.

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