Under pressure

It has been a difficult week for the meat industry. Just when it thought things couldn't get worse, bluetongue arrives. The disease has been found in Suffolk, just over the water from the Low Countries. Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands have suffered from bluetongue and now large parts of Britain have been put on the alert.

Unfortunately for the poor animals and farmers, it has also emerged that vaccinating against bluetongue is not an option, because the vaccine for the strain, identified both in Suffolk and across Northern Europe, is still

in development.

At the same time, yet another case of

foot-and-mouth disease has been confirmed within the Egham protection zone in Surrey. This latest outbreak is the seventh since 3 August. So it is not surprising that the National Farmers' Union and Defra haven't taken too kindly to the Soil Association's pronouncements in the Sunday Times and on ITV's Tonight with Trevor McDonald that more restrictions need to be placed on the farming industry, to combat a new type of antibiotic-resistant E.coli.

The NFU has described the Soil Association story as "grossly insensitive". Meanwhile, Defra has neatly pointed out that molecular analysis shows that the E.coli strain conferring resistance in cattle is different to the serotype 025 strain that has caused disease in humans in the UK.

But the meat industry has also had reason to rejoice this week as it scooped five awards in the Telegraph's Taste of Britain 2007 competition. Former Grand Prix driver Jody Scheckter came away with the gold award for the Overall Best Product for his Hebridean Leg of Lamb. The awards vindicated the UK meat industry, showing that it still has much to be proud of.

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