“Time to change outdated regulations from BSE era”

“Time to change outdated regulations from BSE era”

Outdated TSE* regulations which demand older lamb carcases be split to remove specified risk materials (SRM) are adding unnecessary cost to the industry and hindering international trade, a beef and lamb industry conference heard recently.

While there was no suggestion that standards or safeguards should be relaxed, John Cross, EBLEX chairman, told the organisation’s annual conference in Warwickshire that measures should be risk based and relate to current evidence.

And he suggested that some of the legacy regulations introduced at the time of the BSE crisis in the mid-1990s were no longer fit for purpose.

“Regulation must be the result of science-based risk assessment and management in order to protect and benefit society. Regulation in the food chain is essential for a safe consumer environment. In the past, regulations around BSE and TSEs more generally, along with SRM measures, were science-based and fit for purpose and I think we can all look back and feel reassured that the scientists got it right,” he said.

“These safeguards are equally important for other countries interested in importing our products so they understand the level of risk and the control measures we have in place.

“Thankfully, BSE is behind us but we have some legacy pieces of regulation left that are outdated and a hindrance to both trade and our international reputation. I mention this particularly with regards to older lamb carcases which have to be split to meet the statutory checks, when customers want them whole.

“Regulation is essential in the food chain but let’s keep it live, scientifically informed, risk-based and fit for purpose. The current situation needs reviewing.”

More than 170 delegates attended the annual conference to hear details of the work EBLEX carries out in a number of areas, including exports, as well as listen to guest speakers including Somerset farmer Ed Green, Rizvan Khalid of Euro Quality Lambs, Andrew Loftus, agricultural manager for Morrisons, and NFU vice-president Adam Quinney.

Speaking earlier in the afternoon, EBLEX director Nick Allen had also called for some of the more outdated regulations surrounding the legacy of BSE to be looked at to help the industry move forward.

“I am not suggesting there should be any relaxation of rules, just that they should be risk-based, proportionate and relevant to the industry as it is today, not where we were previously,” he said.

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