Food Law News - UK - 1997
15 December 1997: BSE - Bone-in Beef Ban Takes Effect Tonight
MAFF News Release (398/97), 15 December 1997
Bone-in Beef Ban Takes Effect Tonight
Rules requiring the deboning of beef come into force at midnight tonight. They prohibit the sale of any carcass or bone-in beef. The Beef Bones Regulations 1997 come into force following advice to the Government from its expert advisory committee on BSE.
Agriculture Minister Jack Cunningham said:
"My first priority is the protection of public health. I have acted quickly on the latest scientific advice to ensure that consumers can eat British beef with complete confidence. This action has been taken on a precautionary basis. The decision means I can honestly say to the British people and to our European partners that our beef is the safest in the EU, and probably in the world. Taking no action was not an option. I cannot take risks with public health. This Government is acting firmly and rapidly to protect consumer confidence, which is in the fundamental interests of the beef industry."
Currently only about five per cent of beef is consumed on the bone. The rules allow deboning to take place in cutting plants, butcher's shops, catering establishments or other commercial premises. They do not allow the bones to be sold, given to consumers or used in the preparation of food.
The same controls will apply to all beef marketed for human consumption in Great Britain. The Regulations allow for a transitional period for manufactured goods like stock cubes and soups. Retailers will have until March 15th to clear shelves of products made with GB bones made before 16 December 1997.
The Release adds the following notes:
- SEAC advised the Government on 3 December 1997 on the scientific case for removing bones from beef.
- Only about 5% of beef has been consumed on the bone. Beef with bones removed will still be available for sale.
- The legislation allows deboning to take place in cutting plants, butchers' shops, catering establishments or other commercial premises. It will be an offence from 16 December 1997 for such bones to be sold, given to consumers or used in the preparation of food for human consumption.
- Bovine bones may be imported from any country for use in food manufacture other than where the food is for sale direct to the ultimate consumer e.g. in restaurants.
- Bovine bones derived from carcases deboned in GB are not to be treated as SRM. They may be disposed of as animal by-products and continue to be used in the preparation of petfood or rendered and used for technical purposes.
- A consultation letter setting out details of the proposed legislation, was sent to interested organisations on 5 December 1997. Responses were requested by 4pm on 12 December.
- Equivalent legislation is being made in Northern Ireland to the same timescale.
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