Slaughter firms face BSE arrest

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The Independent Online
Slaughtermen were warned last night that they face prosecution if they fail to ensure that cattle offal linked to the transfer of "mad cow" disease did not get into the food chain, writes Peter Victor.

Representatives of slaughterhouse owners were summoned to a meeting with the Minister of Agriculture, Douglas Hogg, following evidence that some carcasses could be leaving abattoirs without all the offal removed.

Under new regulations slaughterhouses are required to remove and destroy all specified bovine offals (SBOs) - including the brain, spinal chord, spleen, tonsils and intestines - thought to be capable of carrying bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

However, a recent survey by the State Veterinary Service found four cases where small pieces of offal had remained attached to the carcass - prompting tonight's meeting.

Afterwards, Mr Hogg said he had warned the industry representatives the rules must be properly complied with or they could face court action. "I expressed my concern that a number of failings had been found in the handling of specified bovine offals in slaughterhouses and reminded them of the importance of the SBO controls for the protection of public and animal health," he said