I wish to inform the House that following a Government investigation into whether any illegal trade in older cattle has occurred, new movement restrictions will be placed on cattle born or reared in the UK before 1 August 1996. This is an extra precaution against meat from these older cattle entering the food chain.
DEFRA has written to the 18,000 keepers with animals of this age to inform them that in future individual licences must be obtained before the cattle can be moved.
Controls to prevent these animals from entering the food chain are already strong. It is illegal to slaughter pre-1996 animals for food, and specified risk material (SRM) such as brain and spinal cord is removed from all cattle after slaughter. In addition, any cattle aged over 48 months are tested for BSE after slaughter and only those that test negative are allowed into the food chain.
The industry has worked hard over the years to ensure British beef regained the good reputation it deserves, both at home and abroad. This extra safeguard will help maintain this reputation.