Export of Beef and Cattle

Environment Food and Rural Affairs written statement – made on 9th March 2006.

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Photo of Margaret Beckett Margaret Beckett The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I am pleased to announce to the House that yesterday in Brussels EU member states agreed to a Commission proposal to lift the ban on the export of beef and cattle from the UK.

The decision yesterday means that the UK will be able to export cattle born on or after 1 August 1996 and beef and beef products derived from cattle slaughtered after 15 June 2005 on the same basis as other member states. This is a significant milestone in our journey to eradicate BSE.

The date for the resumption of such exports will be determined once the Regulation is published in the Official Journal of the European Union. However we expect exports to resume by the end of April or early May.

The protection of public health is of paramount importance and vCJD is a truly terrible disease. I pay tribute to the victims and their families. We will continue to work closely with industry to draw up procedures for exports. The relevant guidance is being finalised and the documents will be published shortly. In particular, we will vigorously enforce the rules relating to the welfare of animals during transport.

Once the Regulation is in force, the UK will be required to remove vertebral column from carcases aged over 24 months as other EU member states, rather than the current 30 months for the UK. The FSA board is considering at its meeting today whether to permit such removal in authorised butchers' shops.