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Monday, November 23, 1998 Published at 15:57 GMT


UK

BSE Timeline



A timeline of the key dates in the BSE crisis and the efforts made to resume beef exports.


[ image:  ]
April 1988 - Government establishes the Southwood committee to look into BSE. It concludes that BSE had probably been spread in animal feed.

July 1988 - Ban on feed derived from protein introduced.

August 1988 - Decision to slaughter all BSE-affected cattle.

February 1989 - Government bans beef offal from baby foods.


[ image: The slaughter begins]
The slaughter begins
July 1989 - EC bans export of cattle born before July 1988. November 1989 - Ban on use of cows brain and spinal cord for human consumption.

March 1990 - EC restricts exports of cattle to those under six months.


[ image: John Gummer and daughter eat beef burgers]
John Gummer and daughter eat beef burgers
May 1990 - Agriculture Minister John Gummer and his daughter eat beef burgers in front of British press.

September 1990 Ban on using cow brains and spinal cords in Animal feed.

July 1993 - 100,000th case of BSE in Britain.

1995 - First deaths from new variant CJD.

December 1995 - Ban on using mechanically recovered meat for human consumption.


BBC News report 21 March 1996: Scientists announce the link.
21 March 1996 - Government announces suspected link between BSE and human equivalent, CJD.

27 March 1996 - EC announces worldwide export ban on all British beef.

21 May 1996 - UK begins policy of non co-operation with EU partners until ban is lifted.

24 May 1996 - The UK applies to the European Court of Justice to have the ban overturned.

12 June 1996 - UK proposes phased lifting of ban, including exemption of cattle from herds certified as never having had BSE.


BBC News 24 June 1996: The Florence deal is struck
21 June 1996 - European Heads of Government agree to the Florence Framework for the progressive removal of the ban. The Agreement outlined five pre-conditions for the resumption of exports:

  • A selective slaughter programme of "at risk" animals to speed up the eradication of BSE in the UK.
  • Improved systems of animal identification and tracing.
  • Legislation for the removal of meat and bone meal from feed mills and farms.
  • Effective implementation of the Over Thirty Month slaughter scheme.
  • Vigorous and effective removal of specified risk materials from carcasses.
UK drops its policy of disrupting EU business to get the ban lifted.


[ image:  ]
18 July 1996 - The European Parliament sets up a Temporary Committee of Inquiry to investigate alleged maladministration in relation to BSE in the EC. It produces a report the following February which was critical of the UK and the Commission in its handling of the BSE crisis.

December 1996 - Britain announces that the backlog of animals waiting to be slaughtered under the Over Thirty Month Scheme is cleared. Proposals for a certified heads scheme are announced. The selective cull of cattle most at risk of BSE is announced which means that the UK has acted on all five pre-conditions of the Florence Agreement.


[ image: Beef consumption takes a massive drop]
Beef consumption takes a massive drop
April 1997 - The European Parliament sets up a new Temporary Committee to monitor the European Commission's follow up actions to the first committee's recommendations. It produces its final report in November 1997.

May 1997 - Government says it may ban imports of beef from Germany and other EU countries which do not observe Britain's strict abattoir hygiene controls.

30 September 1997 - The Advocate General says the EU beef ban was lawful and on 5 May 1998 the ECJ upheld its validity. Although a ruling on the vailidity of the ban was still nine months away, the UK concentrates its efforts on lifting the ban through negotiation and agreement with EU partners.

2 October 1997 - A proposal for a UK Date Based Export Scheme is submitted to the European Commission along with a paper giving the scientific rationale for the proposal. The proposal includes plans for the compulsory slaughter of all offspring born to BSE infected cows on or after 1 August 1996.


[ image: Beef on the bone]
Beef on the bone
9 December 1997 - The UK proposal is considered by Scientific Steering Committee which responds positive but indicated the Commission would need to be satsified with the control mechanisms.

December 1997 - Government announces one-off compensation of £85m to beef farmers.

January 1998 - A £2m marketing campaign is launched to attempt to restore confidence in British beef. The EU makes a financial contribution to the scheme.

February 1998 - Government bans sale of beef on the bone.


[ image:  ]
9 March 1998 - Public inquiry into the origin and spread of BSE and its human equivalent, CJD, opens in London.

16 March 1998 - EU vets approve the removal of the ban on British beef exports from certified heads in Northern Ireland. The decision is later ratified by the EC.

1 June 1998 - Northern Ireland farmers resume exports - the first time UK beef has been sold abroad since March 1996.


[ image: Ireand get the go-ahead, others are still waiting]
Ireand get the go-ahead, others are still waiting
10 June 1998 - The European Commission recommends lifting the export ban on British beef for animals born after August 1996.

28 September 1998 - Although not a pre-requisite of the Florence Agreement, a computerised cattle traceability system is introduced to the UK. It holds details of all cattle registgered or imported into the country.

28 October 1998 - An amended proposal is accepted which was voted on by the Standing Veterinary Committee on 4 November 1998. The proposal was due to be tabled at the November Agricultural Council for discussion and a vote.

23 November 1998- European Union farm ministers lift the 32-month ban on the export of beef from the UK. Resumption of exports is expected in March 1999.



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