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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EU Decries England's Mad Cow Measures

BRUSSELS -- European Union talks on easing a worldwide ban on British beef exports ran into problems Monday as several countries expressed disappointment over new British measures to stamp out mad cow disease.


Spanish Farm Minister Loyola de Palacio said the British proposal lacked detail and that a global program to eradicate the fatal cattle brain disease must be agreed before relaxing the ban on beef by-products.


"Four pages are clearly insufficient," De Palacio said, referring to the British proposal's length.


EU sources said that Belgium and Greece also were unhappy about the British plans and together with Germany and Austria there would be enough votes to block a European Commission proposal to allow sales of certain beef by-products.


The EU's Standing Veterinary Committee continued examining the proposal, based on advice from the World Health Organization, to allow sales of beef by-products gelatine, tallow and semen, subject to strict production rules.


Britain would have to ensure gelatine and tallow were treated at high temperatures, remove certain animal parts, such as the brain and intestine, and list meat processing plants.


"We believe there is every justification for voting in favor of the proposal," a Commission spokesman said, adding that a gradual relaxation of the ban was in line with the unanimous approach agreed by EU farm ministers April 30.


Britain gave the committee details of plans to double a selective slaughter program and kill up to 80,000 cattle, which may have been at risk of developing the disease, known medically as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE.


"I hope to see a progressive lifting of the ban based on the British measures," British Farm Minister Douglas Hogg said.


Germany and Austria say that Britain's ability to trace and eliminate all animals at risk to BSE is uncertain.


"We need an unequivocal scientific opinion and not an array to choose from," German Farm Minister Jochen Borchert said, adding that Bonn had to be certain that gelatine and tallow manufacturing processes were safe and that beef was completely free of BSE.


But Sweden said it favored easing the ban. "Our experts say that providing certain manufacturing rules are followed, there aren't any problems with these products," Swedish Farm Minister Annika Ahnberg said.


"If these demands are fully met then we can make clear to consumers that there is no risk," Borchert said, adding another EU inspection team should visit Britain soon.