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Saturday, 19 October, 2002, 09:30 GMT 10:30 UK
France accepts UK beef exports
French market
British beef was declared safe by the EU in 1999
British beef has arrived in France for the first time in six years after fears over BSE prompted a ban on UK imports.

France was Britain's biggest export market until the ban was enforced in 1996.

The rest of Europe lifted the ban in 1999, but France angered UK farmers when it continued to refuse British beef imports, maintaining it was not safe to eat.


The exports mark a major step in a campaign to promote British in Europe and across the world

Malcolm Thomas, NFU Wales
The rethink, announced earlier this month, is being hailed as a major psychological boost to farmers.

The meat, from Wales, has gone to the SIAL international food fair in Paris, where it will be displayed on the British Meat stand.

Tastings will be available at the stand and beef will be served at a British meat dinner being held for international meat importers on Monday night.

The VIP dinner will also be attended by Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett and Welsh rural affairs minister Mike German.

Remi Fourrier, manager of the Meat and Livestock Commission's (MLC) Paris office, said he was hopeful the French would soon be buying British beef.

International market boost

He said: "We were prepared for the lifting of the ban and had plans in place to help exporters regain their markets.

"We have been in contact with many of those who used to be our customers.

"There is demand for the excellent quality beef we have to offer which is very encouraging."

The Welsh beef left St Merryn Foods plant at Merthyr Tydfil earlier in the week.

Malcolm Thomas, director of the NFU in Wales, has welcomed the lifting of the ban but insisted it was long overdue.

British beef
French want to buy British beef
He said: "The exports mark a major step in a campaign to promote British in Europe and across the world.

"The restarting of exports to France is a major psychological boost to farmers but there is a lot of work to do before we recover our markets to anything near a level which could have a significant impact in market prices for individual beef farmers."

He said the European Commission's handling of the French ban on British beef was unacceptable.

He also called for heavy fines to be introduced for member states which breached EU regulations.

Fears over BSE were prompted by scientists discovering a link between BSE and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, a similar fatal, brain-wasting disease that occurs in humans.


CJD

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25 Sep 02 | Business
25 Sep 02 | UK
17 Jul 02 | Europe
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