Call for a review of VC rules in Scotland

Both the Scottish Federation of Meat Traders Association (SFMTA) and the Scottish Beef and Cattle Association (SBCA) are calling for a review of the decision not to allow the removal of vertebral column (VC) from cattle in butchers' shops.

Both are lobbying to get the age of VC removal increased from 30 months to 48 months as the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has agreed to a move towards a more proportionate, risk-based system for official BSE controls for over-30-month cattle.

In its newsletter, the SFMTA said the FSA's decision was "particularly disappointing" for butchers, as in countries like France, butchers are allowed by government to remove VC in-shop under licence. But the FSA said its decision was due to the potential impact on consumer confidence, and noted there could be an increase in non-compliance at a time when emphasis is being placed on Specified Risk Material (SRM) requirements as a key public health measure.

SBCA development executive Brian Simpson said: "While the move in abattoir controls is in the right direction, we are confused by the decision to prevent butchers taking advantage of EU derogation for authorised shops to handle SRM. The scientific evidence clearly indicates the risk are minuscule and the FSA decision seems to be based entirely on perceived risk to consumer confidence, rather than measured risk. The inconsistency of approach is unacceptable from our FSA."

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