Meat firm seeks to overturn BSE ban

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The Independent Online

Science Correspondent

A meat processing company is challenging the Government's ban on the use of cows' spines in mechanically recovered meat, claiming it is unlawful.

If Great Harwood Food Products, of Great Harwood in Lancashire, wins the case, food companies could once more include ground-up cattle bones in meat products.

This may renew fears that mad cow disease, or BSE, could be transmitted to humans.

The ban on the use of cows' brains, skulls and spines in mechanically recovered meat was introduced last November, in the wake of scares that BSE- infected tissue could pass into food. At the time, the agriculture minister Douglas Hogg said the measure was "designed to protect public health from any remote theoretical risk from BSE".

Great Harwood Food Products, which produces mechanically removed meat for burgers, pies, sausages, soups and other products, says the new controls pose a serious threat to its business. It describes the ban as "disproportionate, irrational and unreasonable" and therefore unlawful under both domestic and European law.

The company is seeking a judicial review, arguing that ministers were trespassing on an area exclusively covered by EU rules. No date has yet been set for the hearing.