EU bans UK exports after FMD scare

By Charlotte Eyre

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: European union, Meat, Milk, Uk

The European Commission has now banned all UK exports of live
animals, as well as meat and dairy products, after Foot and Mouth
Disease (FMD) was found on a UK farm last Friday, according to
Forbes magazine.

The ban follows a UK voluntary suspension, instigated last week. The move is likely to have a massive effect on the food industry, who could lose millions of pounds a week if the ban stays in place for any longer than a few days. According to Forbes magazine, Belgium, France, Ireland and the Netherlands all banned imports from the UK before the EU decision took place, and have already started to carry out checks on animals brought in from Britain in the last fortnight. Outside the EU, Singapore has banned meat imports from Britain including pork, mutton and beef, while the US has put a ban on pork and swine products, the magazine said. Last Friday, tests confirmed that FMD had broken out at a farm in Surrey, UK, resulting in the herd being culled on Saturday, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said. FMD is an acute infectious disease which causes fever and blisters, especially in the mouth and on the feet. It spreads through contact with the saliva, milk, dung or blood of infected animals, as well as by the movement of animals, humans and vehicles that have been in contact with the virus. Although rare in humans, FMD causes loss of milk yield, mastitis, sterility and chronic lameness in livestock. There is no cure for the disease, so slaughter is the only control policy available to farmers, a necessary measure because widespread disease throughout the UK would cause significant welfare problems, DEFRA said. Susceptible livestock includes cattle, sheep, pigs, deer and some zoo animals such as camels and elephants. The UK ban, excluding Northern Ireland, was instigated at 10 pm last Friday. It forbids the movement of any animals who are susceptible to the disease, including within a farm if it involves transport on a public highway. An FMD outbreak in the UK in 2001 saw five million sheep, 764,000 cattle and 435,000 pigs and goats slaughtered. Compensation paid to farmers hit €4.3bn, while the estimated losses due to reduced tourism amounted to €10.9bn. Beef processors were only allowed to resume trading in 2006, five years after the FMD break out, and 10 years after the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) crisis.

Related topics: Regulation & Safety

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