- The European Commission yesterday revealed that the BSE
crisis is spiralling out of control.
- The EU's budget could "explode" as sales continue
to plummet in Europe and this could also have serious ramifications for
jobs in the sector.
- The latest figures show beef sales falling by as much
50pc in some countries though not in Ireland, Britain and Scandinavia.
- And the Commission warned that if demand continues to
drop rapidly, then the EU Budget will simply be unable to cope with the
- In yet another bid to restore badly shaken consumer confidence
in mainland Europe, agriculture ministers agreed to a further series of
measures to combat BSE after five hours of private talks.
- But they rejected German demands to reduce the BSE testing
age from 30 to 24 months, following the discovery of two infected cattle
aged 28 months there in recent days.
- Instead, they introduced a total ban on mechanically
recovered meat from cattle and sheep, which could contain BSE. Although
no longer used in Ireland, this was the traditional source of cheap meat
for many products like burgers and meat pies.
- The proposals from Health Commissioner David Byrne follow
the latest scientific advice. He said that all specified risk material
(SRM), composing spine and brain matter, must be totally removed from the
food chain. Agriculture Minister Joe Walsh said that all the advice available
to him was that the most important measure was to remove SRM material.
- Admitting to ethical qualms about destroying cattle,
he said there was no choice in present circumstances, but supported the
Commission's dire warning that the EU may simply not have the capacity
to store and pay for massive quantities of beef going into intervention.
- But although European consumers are switching to other
foods, Irish consumers are still eating the same amount of beef, according
to the Commission figures, contradicting a survey published yesterday.
- IFA leader Tom Parlon said that because 90pc of beef
is exported, farmers are very badly hit by the slump elsewhere.
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