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pounds 250mbill for delay in OTM meat return.

THE DELAY in reintroducing meat from over 30-month- old cattle into the food chain will cost the taxpayer pounds 250m this year, says the National Beef Association.

The ban, which is not expected to be lifted before 2005,has been delayed by the Department of Health.

The DoH decision countermands Food Standards Agency advice saying that meat from OTM cattle could be reintroduced without risk onwards from January this year.

The department has not given its reasons for rejecting the FSA advice.

NBA chairman Robert Robinson said: ``The FSA has said that the return of beef from older (OTM) cattle that tested negative for BSE presents a less than 3pc chance of triggering a vCJD case every 60 years.''

It is hoped that the FSA will now provide the DoH with an updated assessment which takes in to account the latest research on BSE and vCJD.

But the Meat and Livestock Commission believes the delay should prevent short-term oversupply of the market.

It believes the delay will help the industry manage the reintroduction of older beef to stop catastrophic price falls.

The OTM scheme has cost pounds 60m since Jan 2004 and over pounds 3bn since its inception in 1996.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Mar 25, 2004
Words:200
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