Hosted by the UK’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), members of China’s Ministry of Agriculture and the General Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine are to inspect the UK’s BSE controls. The inspection will involve visiting farms, abattoirs, BSE testing laboratories and rendering sites, as well as meeting with UK Government officials.
AHDB said the inspection marked a major step forward and, if the lifting of the ban was approved, it would open up an opportunity to export British beef to China for the first time in 20 years.
“This is an important next step in our ambitions to export high-quality British beef to the growing Chinese market,” said AHDB international market director Phil Hadley. “Unlocking access to China will bring huge benefits to beef producers here in the UK. It is still an ongoing process, with much more work to be done, but AHDB will continue to work with others and play a key role in this process to help steer discussions as we move forward.”
The UK and China reached an agreement in 2012 to export UK pork into China, sales of which rose in value to £74m in 2016.
According to a Food Standards Agency report, BSE and Beef New Controls Explained, BSE in cattle, which is sometimes known as ‘mad cow disease’, has fallen to its lowest levels in the UK since records began in 1988.
It added that the steep decline of BSE – from more than 37,000 clinical cases in 1992 to 90 clinical cases in 2004 – was due to the success of measures introduced by the Government to control the disease and make beef safer for people to eat.