HC Deb 27 February 2001 vol 363 c613W
Mr. Drew

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list those animals besides cattle and sheep, which are being investigated by the Food Standards Agency for the presence of BSE and TSEs. [144871]

Ms Stuart

[holding answer 11 January 2001]: I am advised by the Food Standards Agency that it does not carry out any surveillance for BSE or other Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies in any animals, apart from cattle aged over thirty months entering the food chain. The testing of any other animals for the presence of these diseases is a matter for the Agriculture Departments.

Mr. Waterson

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to stop the import of BSE-contaminated meat; and if he will make a statement. [149471]

Ms Stuart

The Government are advised on matters of food safety by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

British consumers are protected against the dangers of BSE in beef by two key measures: the controls on specified risk materials (SRM), and the over-thirty-month (OTM) rule.

It is illegal to import beef with any SRM attached. Where imported beef with SRM attached is discovered, it is seized by the relevant enforcement authorities and either destroyed or returned to the supplier, depending on the circumstances involved. Following the discovery of remnants of spinal cord in a number of consignments of beef imported recently from Germany, the FSA has instructed the Meat Hygiene Service and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for Northern Ireland to ensure that all consignments of beef imported from Germany are now inspected in licensed meat plants. The FSA has also written to local authorities to advise them that all meat plants under local authority supervision which are likely to receive consignments of German beef should be subject to further random checks, in which any beef from Germany should be inspected.

The OTM rule prohibits the sale for human consumption of beef from animals over the age of thirty months at time of slaughter. This rule applies equally to home produced and imported beef, with the exception of beef from 14 specified non-EU countries with no history of BSE. In November 2000 the FSA instructed local authorities and the Meat Hygiene Service to step up their OTM rule enforcement checks in respect of imported beef. The responses from the enforcement authorities show a high level of compliance with the OTM rule.

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