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Health and Consumer Protection

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Brussels, 10 October 2001

FMD: Some regions in Great Britain can restart export of pigmeat

The Standing Veterinary Committee (SVC) today endorsed a European Commission proposal allowing the United Kingdom for the first time after the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) to export, under strict conditions, pigmeat from certain areas in Great Britain. The areas concerned are the islands in the north of the UK, most of Scotland and counties in the east and west of Great Britain. The restrictive measures in Northern Ireland had already been lifted on 7 June 2001. The proposal still has to be adopted by the Commission in the coming days and will enter into force on 22 October.

"The Commission has consistently pursued the policy of regionalisation thus allowing under very strict conditions, exports to resume from certain regions in an affected country while assuring the disease can not spread. This has been done in the course of the outbreaks in the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands and France while at the same time achieving the eradication of the disease in Ireland, the Netherlands, France and in large parts of the UK. Today, the Commission with the support of Member States has decided to free some additional regions in the UK, areas which have been free of FMD throughout. It will be for pigmeat only and the conditions reflect the need for heightened vigilance in the light of the seriousness of the outbreak in the UK", David Byrne said, speaking in Washington. He is due to meet the US-Secretary for Agriculture Ann Veneman today to address amongst others the continuing US restrictions on imports from the Netherlands, Ireland, France and the UK due to FMD. The International Office for Animal Health (OIE) has officially recognised the Netherlands, Ireland and France as FMD-free countries without vaccination three weeks ago. He added: "The news will be a relief for farmers who have suffered greatly while continuing to combat the disease".

At the meeting of the Standing Veterinary Committee (SVC), the UK representative gave an extensive and complete overview on the situation of FMD in the different areas of the United Kingdom. The number of outbreaks has been decreasing constantly over the past months. Since August cases have been found only in Northumberland and Cumbria. No new cases have been reported since 30 September in those two regions either. The disease was mostly present in sheep and cattle in the UK, pigs have hardly been affected.

Furthermore, since the beginning of the disease in February 2001, certain areas have had no outbreak or have remained free from the disease for more than three months. It is therefore appropriate to allow, under strict conditions, the export of certain meat from animals from holdings in these areas.

At the SVC Member States agreed to a Commission proposal allowing the dispatch, under strict conditions, of fresh meat from porcine animals from holdings situated in the following areas:

- Islands in the north: Shetland Islands, Orkney Islands and Western Isles

- Scottish Counties: All counties with the exception of Scottish borders and Dumfries and Galloway

- Counties in the east of Great Britain: Humberside, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Nottinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Surrey, East Sussex, West Sussex, Hampshire, Dorset, Isle of Wight

- Counties in the west of Great Britain: Gwynedd (excluding the island of Anglesey) and Clwyd.

The most important conditions under which the export from these areas can resume are the following:

- The dispatch of such meat is authorised by the competent veterinary authorities of the United Kingdom;

- There has been no outbreak of FMD disease in the group of counties;

- During the past 30 days prior to transport to the slaughterhouse the animals have remained under the supervision of the competent veterinary authorities on a single holding situated within the areas listed in the centre of a circle around the holding of at least 10 km radius where there has been no outbreak of FMD disease during at least the past 30 days;

- No animal of species susceptible to FMD disease has been introduced into the holding allowed to export during the past 30 days prior to slaughtering of an animal for export;

- The animals have been slaughtered within less than 24 hours after arrival at the slaughterhouse separately from animals which are not allowed to be exported.

- During inspections by the official veterinarian at the slaughterhouse no evidence of clinical or post-mortem signs of FMD disease where established;

- The meat derived from such animals remained in the establishment for at least 24 hours after slaughter;

- The fresh meat must be clearly identified, and transported and stored separately from meat which is not eligible for dispatch outside the United Kingdom, with the exception of Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man;

- The control of the compliance with the above listed conditions shall be carried out by the competent veterinary authority under the supervision of the central veterinary authorities who will communicate to the other Member States and the Commission a list of those establishments which they have approved in application of these provisions.

The SVC also agreed to allow under certain conditions the export from the United Kingdom of certain milk products which underwent a ripening process including acidification and to extend the derogation from the existing restrictions for frozen bovine semen to frozen porcine semen under the same strict conditions.

After adoption of the proposal, it will be applicable until 31 December 2001 and will be reviewed regularly by the SVC.


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