Beef pulled from shelves in Irish outlets over possible BSE risk

Six retail outlets in Ireland have been ordered to stop selling beef that was found to contain spinal parts that could transmit the fatal BSE infection.

Five butchers and a supermarket in Ireland have been ordered to stop selling beef that was found to contain spinal parts that could transmit the fatal BSE infection.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) said that a total of 11 enforcement orders were issued in August, making it the worst month for food safety breaches in five years.

This included prohibition orders on six premises, to stop them selling beef that was in breach of EU health regulations designed to protect consumers from the risk of eating BSE-infected meat which can cause the brain-wasting variant-CJD disease in humans.

Under the measures butchers, are not permitted to handle Specified Risk Material (SRM) from cattle aged over two years unless they are specifically authorised to do by the FSAI, on the basis that they have stringent controls in place that would prevent even the remotest possibility of BSE entering the food chain.

Three of the butcher shops affected were in north county Dublin, namely Des Byrne Butchers, Holmpatrick Shopping Centre, Skerries; Baxter Butchery, Clonard St, Balbriggan and Sean Browne & Sons, Bridge St, Balbriggan. Premier Meats Supply Company Ltd, Ashtown Grove, Navan Road, Dublin 7 and Joe Carney Meats, Old Cabra Road, Dublin 7 were also affected as was the Eurospar in West End Virginia, Co Cavan.

All were issued with the orders by environmental health officers working for local health boards, banning them from selling the beef that contained the potentially hazardous vertebral column.

FSAI chief executive John O'Brien stressed the importance of stringent compliance with the EU health controls for BSE.

"It is highly unorthodox for unauthorised premises to handle bovine carcasses from animals over 24 months of age or to remove vertebral column from such animals without the necessary controls being in place," he said, warning that more butchers will be checked for this problem.

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