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Agency backs down over cattle slaughter rulings; Farming.

Byline: Karen Dent

THE Food Standards Agency has come under fire after trying to introducing extra regulations on the separation of cattle for slaughter.

Although they are no longer subject to BSE brain testing, the FSA wanted 30-48-month-old slaughter cattle to be split at lairage level and processed separately from those aged under 30 months and those over 48 months.

The National Beef Association criticised the FSA for attempting to impose an expensive regulation on livestock farmers without asking for their feedback.

NBA director Kim Haywood, who represented farmers at the meeting with the agency, said: "The FSA was attacked because it has imposed unnecessary, impractical and expensive regulation on the industry without prior consultation and in complete contradiction to its recent promise to look for science-based solutions, incurring the lowest possible cost, when faced with emerging food safety problems in the processing sector."

The pressure has forced the FSA to back down and take a more flexible approach, Ms Haywood said. The regulations will now see the separating of just two groups at lairage level - those under 48 months that do not require brain stem testing and those over 48 months that do need to be tested.

Ms Haywood said: "Some of the frustration within the industry stems from the fact that many slaughters do not have lairages big enough to physically separate three age batches without mixing the animals from different farms and the NBA is also struggling to see how separating cattle into three age batches at lairage can help food safety.

"In fact, the unnecessary requirement would have caused major animal welfare and meat quality issues and could have resulted in mistakes being made.

"There can be no doubt that the FSA has imposed additional, and costly regulation on the beef industry without any scientific justification whatsoever."

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UNDER SCRUTINY The FSA has been criticised for attempting to impose extra regulations on cattle.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jan 15, 2009
Words:318
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