Published:  01 November, 2006

Months of campaigning by butchers for the government to allow over 24 month beef carcases with vertebral column (VC) still attached to move twice down the supply chain, from abattoir to cutting plant to butcher, could lead to fruition early next year



The Food Standards Agency has said it will be consulting with the industry on the matter and it seems to have finally acknowledged there is a need for the one move, from abattoir to cutting plant, to be reviewed with a view to replacing this with the two move rule. The FSA has also stated that in the interim it will not enforce the current movement restriction.


The decision is good news as it will assist the wholesale sector and improve the supply situation for butchers. It means that they will have access to a wider variety of cuts, said Graham Bidston, chief executive of the National Federation of Meat & Food Traders (NFMFT), who welcomed the move. "It was silly to impose the one move rule as the risk was minimal. We are finally going to get to what we have been asking for over the past six months."

Douglas Scott, chief executive of the Scottish Federation of Meat Traders Association, said the VC rules were "a step too far" and changes to them were not before time as every cut of beef was traceable. "What have the FSA being doing?" he asked.


Scott said the one move rule could have led to a two-tier price market if it had not been for the wholesalers adjusting the market by boning-out beef over 24 months and boning-in beef under 24 months.


Despite the FSA's statement that it will not seek the current movement restriction, Scott advised members not to heed this until the movement the rule changes, as he warns meat inspectors tend to see things in black and white. "They see their job as enforcing legislation and sometimes going over the top," he said.


Around 600 butchers in the UK have applied for approval as cutting plants - 10% of all butchers in the UK. Of those 111 have been granted approval in Scotland and 240 in England.

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