BSE 30-month beef rule to end

By Robert Uhlig, Farming Correspondent
(Filed: 07/03/2003)

The Food Standards Agency will announce proposals today to scrap the over-30 months rule introduced in 1996 to minimise the risk of humans eating BSE-infected beef.

Following a public meeting with consumer groups and the beef industry today, and a consultation period, the agency's board will make recommendations to ministers by July. The recommendations are expected to bring a relaxation of the current stringent rules.

Although this would signal the success of measures to combat mad cow disease, farmers are concerned that older animals could crowd the market, creating a two-tier pricing structure that would give the wrong message to consumers.

Scrapping the rule could see up to 300,000 tons of older beef a year swamping the market which consumes 700,000 tons of British beef and 280,000 tons of imported beef annually.