Foot-and-mouth rears head in UK

By Ahmed ElAmin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Milk, Uk

The UK's meat and dairy industry is under siege, with a new EU ban
in place yesterday on exports as farmers battle to control yet
another outbreak of food-and-mouth disease.

In implementing the trade ban on meat and meat-related products, the EU's Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCFCAH) was responding to a fresh outbreak of the disease at a farm in Surrey. The new outbreak is yet another blow against the UK meat producers and processers, who were just starting to recover their markets after the end of ten year export ban on British beef due to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The ban also takes an important source of supplies off the European market at a time when the price of meat is rising to account for the increased cost of feed. The meat industry estimates a previous ban on exports that was lifted on 25 August cost industry about €2.7 million per day. That ban was implemented after a smaller outbreak of food and mouth occurred in an area about 50 kilometres south of the new case. A movement ban of cattle, sheep, pigs and other ruminants has now been imposed in England and parallel arrangements are being made by the Scottish and Welsh administrations. No movements of the targeted livestock are allowed except under licence. In England, controls are in place on movement of animal carcasses, animal gatherings, shearing and dipping are restricted, and all farms must increase levels of biosecurity. Meanwhile Dairy UK stated today the its members had activated a full range of precautionary measures nationally. These include a code of good practice devised in conjunction with the government. Dairy companies, co-operatives, hauliers and other milk buyers have signed on to the code said Dairy UK director general Jim Begg. "The issuing of certificates for the export of dairy products to the European Union has been temporarily suspended until new EU Commission procedures come into force but we expect this to happen quickly,"​ he stated. "The same applies to exports to non-EU destinations." ​ Foot and mouth disease is an acute infectious disease that causes fever and blisters, especially in the mouth and on the feet of livestock. 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, the disease 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. The outbreak could have the same disastrous effect on the meat industry as BSE did 20 years ago, which caused sales of British meat exports to plummet. The UK meat industry still hasn't recovered since the BSE crisis in 1986, despite a 10-year-old ban being lifted in 2006. Before the BSE crisis in 1986, the UK's beef exports were worth about £1bn (€1.5bn) compared to £20m (€29m) in 2004, according to Food from Britain, a consultancy. .

Related topics: Regulation & Safety

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