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Monday, December 15, 1997 Published at 04:35 GMT



UK: Politics

Britain threatens Europe over beef imports
image: [ Jack Cunningham says any delay will be unacceptable to Britain ]
Jack Cunningham says any delay will be unacceptable to Britain

The British Government says it will stop imports of beef which have not been butchered to UK standards if European plans to impose new safeguards are delayed.

Agriculture Minister Jack Cunningham made the warning following calls in Brussels for a delay to the implementation of Europe-wide controls on beef, due to come into force on January 1.

Dr Cunningham said it would be unacceptable to delay enforcement of the agreed standards, already required in Britain, across the EU.

The standards demand the removal of all offal and other material thought most likely to carry BSE.

Dr Cunningham travels to Brussels on Monday for the monthly meeting of EU agriculture ministers at which policy on the so-called "specified risk material" will be discussed.

Speaking on the BBC's On the Record programme, he said: "I've made it clear if Europe does not implement that decision on January 1, as we agreed to do last July, then I will have no hesitation in taking unilateral action in implementing it in respect of all beef coming into Britain.

"That would mean that any beef imported into Britain from January 1 would have to be subject to the same stringent safeguards as are applied to beef produced in this country, so that the farmers would get the level playing field they're calling for."
 





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