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Wednesday, December 10, 1997 Published at 18:24 GMT


EU scientists want meat-on-the-bone ban
image: [ EU scientists are calling for more research before the ban they recommend is enacted. ]
EU scientists are calling for more research before the ban they recommend is enacted.

European Union scientists are recommending an EU-wide ban on sales of some meat-on-the-bone products, including T-bone steak and lamb chops, because of fears over mad-cow disease, or BSE.

The EU's scientific steering committee is suggesting that beef, lamb and goat meat which is more than one year old and is attached to any part of the animal's spinal column should be kept out of the food chain.

Its members say this development does not amount to a decision and that further studies are needed; these will be undertaken early next year.

The move follows evidence presented to the committee that lambs which are fed cattle meat infected with BSE can contract the sheep equivalent of the disease.

The recommendation is being made independently of the British government's decision last week to ban sales of beef-on-the-bone which has already sparked uproar from beef farmers and butchers.

The scientists who advised British ministers had ruled out any need to extend the ban to sheep and goats.Their advisory document said: "As yet we have not found any evidence of BSE in UK sheep or goats, but the surveillance is at a very early stage."

[ image: Several familiar dishes could disappear across the EU]
Several familiar dishes could disappear across the EU
Officials at Britain's Ministry of Agriculture said they could not comment on the new EU proposals until they had seen the detail of the committee's recommendations.

However, a spokesman for the Meat and Livestock Commission said that the ban proposed by the EU scinetists would be unlikely to have much impact on the meat trade in Britain.

Most of the lamb sold in the UK is from animals under the 12-month limit proposed by the committee, he said.

"There's not much demand for mutton, from animals over 12 months, in the UK," he said. "The vast majority of demand is for lambs slaughtered under 12 months."

But sheep farmers fear a ban would have a disastrous effect on their livelihood. A spokesman from the National Sheep Association said the risk of catching CJD - the human equivalent of BSE - from eating sheep was virtually non-existent.

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