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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EU Bans British Beef Worldwide

LONDON -- The European Commission banned the sale of British beef and cattle to the rest of the world Wednesday but tried to ease London's pain with an offer of help for its battered industry.


The British government, still reeling from a disclosure last week that there was a likely link between "mad cow disease" and its deadly human equivalent, said it regretted the decision and would do everything possible to get it lifted.


It repeated its belief that the ban was contrary to scientific advice that there was no need for any such measure and said it would "be taking every possible step to get this ban lifted urgently and to get our trade moving again."


The government stepped back from making a widely-expected announcement on the selective slaughter of cattle. But pressure for decisive action at home and abroad grew after senior EU veterinary officials refused to overturn their earlier decision, which threatens to ruin Britain's multi-billion dollar industry.


"The measures, which it must be emphasized are of a provisional nature, ban the export of all live cattle, beef and beef products from the United Kingdom to other European Union countries and to the rest of the world," the commission said.


A British spokesman said more talks with the commission were needed before taking any decision on a partial cattle cull. The government insists British beef is safe, but its hand is likely to be forced by the commission's decision, especially since the powerful farming lobby is clamoring for action.


It says up to 850,000 older cows need to be killed to reassure nations that have already banned British beef imports.


Europe seems deaf to Britain's continued protestations.


Germany called on the EU to tighten its controls over beef imports and Albania upstaged the union altogether by closing its borders to beef imports from the entire continent.


A shipment of Scottish beef was impounded in Italy as the agriculture ministry tried to calm consumer alarm and Greek consumers are shunning all beef despite a ban on British imports because they don't trust its origin, butchers said.


In France beef sales have fallen by up to 30 percent since reports of a likely link between Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease broke last week, despite an official campaign to persuade consumers their own beef is safe.


Britain's Transport and General Workers' Union said tens of thousands of jobs on farms and in slaughterhouses, abattoirs, processing factories and distribution centers were at risk following a collapse in beef sales.