Hopes high for FVO's UK visit

Officials from the European Commission Food & Veterinary Office are due to visit the UK on 20 November to ensure it is enforcing the wide range of BSE controls called for when the beef export ban was lifted in May.

Officials from the European Commission Food & Veterinary Office (FVO) are due to visit the UK on 20 November to ensure it is enforcing the wide range of BSE controls called for when the beef export ban was lifted in May.

The meat industry is hoping that the report, along with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) opinion, will be favourable and raise the limit for bone-in in cattle to 30 months next year.

The FVO will carry out BSE controls audits in various premises, and a draft report is expected to be published 25 working days later. However, because of Christmas it is unlikely to be published before February. The report will reflect any changes that need to be put in place.

A Defra spokesperson said: "It's clearly important that industry is seen as complying with all the rules. Defra is clearly hoping for a good outcome as we're working on our partnership with industry. It's very important that industry is seen to be playing its part."

Scottish processors are confident about controls in the country. "We believe at this end we are policed particularly well," said Alistair Donaldson, executive manager for the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers.

SAMW is hoping the FVO does not pick up anything in the 24-30 month animal chain as the association has been campaigning for bone-in in cattle aged 24-30 months to be allowed.

The BMPA is also keen the visit goes smoothly and that EFSA recommends in its report in December to the EU Standing Committee of Food Chain and Animal Health that the UK be allowed to retain vertebral column in animals aged 24-30 months. "We need to remove this restriction now as it is no more than a technicality. We had bone-in beef aged 30 months before the export ban was lifted and the risk is minimal," said Maurice McCartney, director of the BMPA (pictured).

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