EFRA committee says government should fight meat ban
THE Government’s response to the ban on UK ‘desinewed’ meat imposed by Brussels contained ‘serious flaws’ a committee of cross-party MPs has found.
Members of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee called on the Government to make ‘every possible effort’ to reverse the European Commission’s decision which, they claimed, would have ‘serious impacts’ on the UK food industry and consumers.
The EC demanded in March that desinewed meat, which closely resembles minced meat and is used in many processed meat products, must be classified as ‘mechanically separated meat’. Under EU rules that meant it could no longer be obtained from the bones of cattle, sheep and goats.
However, Efra committee chairman, Thirsk and Malton MP Anne McIntosh said UK producers had been ‘badly let down’ by both the EC and the UK Government. “The Commission’s actions are irrational and wrong. The Government was caught unawares and has so far failed to protect UK producers.”
The Efra committee inquiry found, although similar processes were used elsewhere in the EU, only the UK had been forced into a ban after being threatened with ‘safeguarding measures’ by the EC. Other member states would be inspected later this year.
Ms McIntosh said the UK Government had stressed there were no food safety risks associated with the use of desinewed meat, and the EC’s decision to outlaw it was ‘totally disproportionate’.
She said the Government had failed to prevent the moratorium being introduced and the UK was now in the ‘absurd’ situation where such meat could be imported from elsewhere in the UK to replace domestically produced meat.
Stephen Rossides, director of the British Meat Processors Association, said the Efra committee report was ‘spot on’ in identifying key issues surrounding the moratorium ‘debacle’.
“The report reaffirms there are no food safety concerns about the use of desinewed meat, which makes the EC’s disproportionate and punitive threats and actions against the UK all the more perplexing.”