The EU’s veterinary experts have given the green light to lift the ban on UK exports of live cattle, beef and beef products. The ban, imposed as a result of ‘mad cow disease’, has been in force since March 1996.
The Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCFCAH) voted unanimously, on 8 March 2006, to adopt the Commission’s proposal to lift the EU embargo on the export of British beef. The Commission recommended removal of the embargo following the EU’s Food and Veterinary Office’s (FVO) favourable report (September 2005) indicating that the UK is able to comply with the BSE measures in force in the EU.
The proposal is expected to be adopted by the Commission shortly. The European Parliament has a one month right of scrutiny and can vote to reject the proposal. The embargo will finally be lifted once the adopted Regulation has been published in the EU’s Official Journal, most probably in April or May 2006.
The mad cow (BSE) affair led to a committee of inquiry in the European Parliament, and a subsequent overhaul of the system of scientific advisory committees with a new focus on a more multidisciplinary approach. The present EU-wide traceability system in the food sector, often dubbed ” from farm to fork”, is a direct result of the mad cow affair.