Sent: Tuesday, March 22, 2011 2:34 AM
Subject: Meat from vaccinated animals
Lots of progress and developments, as well as Alan's article on the efficacy of the the Bluetongue vaccination campaign, but I need to sound a cautionary note. The old NFU line about 'the public not eating vaccinated meat' is now generally accepted for the dinosaur it was, but there are a lot of issues around the means of utilisation of meat from vaccinated animals.
In the summer of 2005 I attended a burst of DEFRA meetings attempting to crack this issue, a series terminated by the appointment of Debby Reynolds and her introductory Stakeholder meeting, which actually had the effect of bringing this process to a halt - a process which we now badly need to resume.
You will probably remember the table DEFRA circulated showing the differing processes for the the different classes of Stock in the different phases - it is quite complicated, (although with work we could doubtless simplify it); the biggest problems unresolved were that there is very little demand for deboned and or cooked lamb or beef unless canned or frozen for use in, for example, military, hospital, prison or welfare type usages - but Trade laws prohibit the displacement of existing contracts.
HMG will not step in, leaving the solution to 'the market', when the market is not able to resolve the issue, for as was pointed out to them, the supermarkets are in competition not co-operation; if one is embarrassed by a supply shortfall, another would capitalise on it, not send supplies.
Even if an entity were inclined and able to finance the rapid mobilisation of field kitchens, processing units etc. where would their market lie? Unfortunately DEFRA did not oblige with my request to bring in the full set of differing meat stamps, to see if any obvious amelioration of that issue could be spotted, but there is genuine concern that consumers may be easily spooked by stamps and labels which are essential for the eradication of an animal disease, appearing to have import for human consumption.
The bottom lines are twofold-
1) We need to urgently reconvene a working group to help progress these issues - for example, if it were agreed that in a future outbreak, sheep would not be vaccinated, then sheep could be excluded from the considerations; if it were agreed that sheep would only be vaccinated in rare and unusual circumstances (and therefore in relatively small numbers) other plans could be put into place, ie to hold them back for slaughter until Disease Free Status regained (with Welfare cull if essential).Just some thoughts, by no means exhaustive on any front, but to inform you of a large potential pitfall (deal -breaker) ahead of us, unless we get back onto it and get it resolved.
2) HMG should be persuaded to step up to the plate and buy in stock for which no other market can be found, to stockpile for a rainy day (or export at their convenience, usage as and when armed Forces contracts expire, etc., or to give away to Charities, for overseas aid, disaster relief, etc. I appreciate potential concerns re Halal slaughter, perceptions of 'dumping' inferior product etc, so discretion required BUT - these are real tangible assets, unlike the trillions in binary notations written off to keep the economy afloat, and assets to boot which can last for many years if treated properly; furthermore, with a little thought, (and input from the likes of Patrick Mulvany of Practical Action), the tins themselves could be fashioned in such as way as to be useful resource in a disaster themselves - made big enought to cook in, collect water, wash, or be beaten into roof panels, stoves, chimney, etc.
With best wishes,