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The BBC's Jon Sopel
"British producers believe they have made a significant breakthrough"
 real 56k

Sunday, 22 October, 2000, 22:22 GMT 23:22 UK
UK beef on show in France
British beef stand
The beef will end up on the menu at the British embassy
By the BBC's Jon Sopel in Paris

British beef goes on public display in France on Monday, for the first time in five years, at an international food fair.

France is the only European Union country to maintain an export ban on the sale of British beef because of fears over mad cow disease.

The 100kg of prime English and Welsh beef will take pride of place at the British Meat and Livestock Commission stand.

But the motto will be very much "look but don't touch, and certainly don't taste".

Propaganda victory

Special dispensation had to be granted for the beef to be allowed into France, but it must not be sold or served up.

And so at the end of the four-day show it's likely to end up at the British embassy, the only place in France where the beef can legally be consumed.

That said, the chairman of the Livestock Commission, Don Curry, has said he's delighted that British beef will be on display.

And it does count as something of a propaganda victory, coming after a weekend where the French have had to admit that beef potentially contaminated by BSE has entered the food chain from mince being sold by the giant supermarket chain Carrefour.

'Compensation package'

The number of cases of BSE in France has also been rising sharply, heightening concern among French consumers that it's not only British beef that carries a risk.

In the UK, recriminations have begun before Lord Phillips' report into the BSE crisis has even been published.

It is expected that the previous government will be heavily criticised for its failure to act adequately in the face of the crisis.

On Sunday, newspapers said that the report, due out on Thursday, will reveal that the government has approved a compensation package costing millions.

This was welcomed by relatives of victims of the human form of mad cow disease.

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See also:

19 Oct 00 | UK Politics
UK beef safer than French?
13 Sep 00 | Sci/Tech
BSE controls 'must remain'
16 Aug 00 | Middle East
Kuwait bans French beef
20 Oct 00 | UK
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