CHINA has banned British beef imports of cattle under the age of 30 months for the second time over fears of meat infected with mad cow disease.
The ban took effect from September 29, according to the nation’s General Administration of Customs. China initially imposed a ban on beef from the UK in the 1990s during earlier outbreaks of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), before agreeing in 2018 to end the ban.
At the time, the UK Government said lifting of the ban would bring £250million to British beef producers within five years.
However, it had yet to restart buying beef from the UK after lifting prior restrictions.
The ban comes after a single case was confirmed on a Somerset farm in September by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).
The APHA said that the animal was deceased and that there was “no risk to food safety.”
Christine Middlemiss, the UK’s chief veterinary officer, said: “We have some of the highest levels of biosecurity in the world, which are supported by robust control systems.
“Our products are safe and should continue to be traded.”
In September, the US announced it was lifting a more than three-decade-long ban on imports of British lamb.
It had stopped British lamb imports since 1989, following the first outbreaks of BSE.
In 2019, it ended its ban on UK beef exports, which began following the 1996 mad cow disease outbreak.
Over four million cattle were slaughtered in an effort to contain the outbreak in the 1990s, and 177 people died after contracting the human version of the disease through eating infected beef.
According to APHA, there has been five confirmed cases of mad cow disease in the UK since 2014, though “all of these have been in animals which, as fallen stock, were not destined for the human food chain and posed no risk to the general public.”
Responding to the latest case in Somerset, a Food Standards Agency spokesperson said: ”There are strict controls in place to protect consumers from the risk of BSE, including controls on animal feed, and removal of the parts of cattle most likely to carry BSE infectivity.
“Consumers can be reassured that these important protection measures remain in place and that Food Standards Agency Official Veterinarians and Meat Hygiene Inspectors working in all abattoirs in England will continue to ensure that. “Brinkwire Summary News”.