Foot and Mouth restrictions eased

By Charlotte Eyre

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: European union, European commission, United kingdom

The European Commission yesterday announced that UK exports of live
animals and meat and dairy products will resume, with the
exception of a 10km zone in Surrey.

"This reduction in the control measures at this stage has been possible because of the favourable evolution in the disease situation and the strict and immediate movement ban implemented in the whole of Great Britain,"​ the EC said. The news will come as a great relief to the UK food industry, as profit losses caused by the ban will not be as enormous as originally feared. The Financial Times estimated that the meat industry would lose 20m euros every week the ban is in place. According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), animals and products can now be exported from outside a 10km surveillance zone in Surrey, where the outbreak originally occurred, to the rest of the EU, provided that measures are taken to provide additional veterinary and certification. Investigations into the outbreak are still ongoing, and a a three-mile temporary biosecurity area has been imposed at the animal health research laboratories at Pirbright, where the current strain of FMD may have originated, Defra said. Earlier this month, tests confirmed the presence of FMD at two farms in the UK, and a ban on exports was immediately put in place. EU vets indicated at the time that the strain of the disease was 01 BFS67, a virus isolated in the 1967 FMD outbreak in the UK. 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, the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said. Outside the EU, countries that have banned UK-meat imports include the US, the Philippines, South Korea, South Africa and Japan.

Related topics: Regulation & Safety

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