The European Union has lifted the last remaining foot-and-mouth restrictions on British meat exports, after a favourable vote of the Standing Veterinary Committee (SVC) on 6 February 2002. The UK government said cattle markets will reopen next week under strict hygiene standards.
The Standing Veterinary Committee, composed of national experts, unanimously voted in favour of a European Commission proposal to lift the last remaining restrictions on British exports of live sheep and goats, which had been put in place after the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, as there have been no new cases of the disease since 30 september 2001. On 21 January, the Office International des Epizooties declared Britain “FMD-free without vaccination”. However, Commission decision 2001/327, which will now be applicable in the UK, foresees an isolation period of 30 days for sheep and goats before dispatch to other Member States.
The farming and meat industries welcomed the lift, but warned that it would take a long time to rebuild lost markets. British environment secretary Margaret Beckett said the government would review contingency plans to deal with future foot-and-mouth outbreaks.