Good news as EFSA opinion published

The long awaited EFSA opinion on the lifting of SRM removal restrictions was finally published today and it is good news for the beef industry.

EFSA scientists said if you take a quarter period before clinical infectivity you can safely raise the age at which SRM is required to be removed from cattle to 33 months.

It added the opinion took into account the fact that the BSE epidemic is on decline in Europe and therefore there were good reasons for grouping member states for separate considerations or as an individual case.

This is precisely the news that a delighted Alistair Donaldson, executive manager of the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers, was hoping for. "We have been following the animal feed ban since 1996 longer than the rest of Europe which was only subject to it when BSE flared up in 2000."

He added that the UK had the 30-month SRM removal limit since 1996 until last year when it was moved to 24 months as a proviso for Europe agreeing to export British beef. "The UK consumers are familiar and happy with this."

Donaldson believes now the FSA, Defra, SEERAD and the beef industry all need to get together and formulate a case for the UK to raise the SRM restrictions. "We need to go with one story to Brussels. It took a long time for the opinion to be published and we have to move faster because the delay has cost our industry."