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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

British Beef Export Ban To Be Lifted

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- The European Commission decided Wednesday to lift the worldwide ban on British beef exports imposed over mad cow disease from Aug. 1, a spokesman said.

The decision ends more than three years of a crippling trade embargo, allowing deboned beef from cattle born after August 1996 back onto world markets.

"The decision has gone through," Gerry Kiely, spokesman for farm commissioner Franz Fischler said.

The worldwide embargo had wiped out markets worth around $1 billion a year, plunged Britain's beef industry into chaos and shattered public confidence in the safety of British meat that farmers admit will take a long time to rebuild.

The total cost of the crisis has been estimated at more than $6 billion. It could be another five years before all stocks of impounded meat and animal feed can be incinerated.

The ban was imposed in March 1996 after the British government's admission that humans eating infected beef could be vulnerable to a new form of the deadly brain disorder Creutzfeld Jakob Disease, or CJD.

Some 40 people have died from a new variant of CJD and Britain has slapped an extra ban on beef-on-the-bone, the part of the carcass deemed most at risk of transmitting mad cow disease.