The Food Standards Agency has investigated three incidents in
which meat from cattle over 72 months of age has entered the food
chain without the animals being tested for BSE.
.All of the incidents predate changes to the BSE testing rules
that came in on 1 March 2013. Before then it was mandatory for
all cattle slaughtered for human consumption and aged over 72
months to have a negative BSE test result before they entered
the food supply. Since 1 March this has no longer been a requirement.
The health risk from eating the meat associated with any of these
incidents is very low as it is extremely unlikely that any of
the cattle involved had BSE. In addition, the parts of the animals
most likely to contain BSE, the specified risk material, had been
removed and destroyed.
Under the BSE regulations, as a precaution, the animal slaughtered
immediately before the untested cattle and the two immediately
after it are also stopped from entering the food supply.
In the first incident, a cow aged 72 months and 3 days was slaughtered
on 23 July 2012 at J A Jewitt (Meat) Ltd, a combined abattoir
and cutting plant in Co. Durham. The missed test was discovered
in September during routine cross-checks of slaughter and BSE
The carcass slaughtered immediately before the untested animal
was rejected for other reasons and was disposed of. The untested
carcass and two associated carcasses were dispatched as part of
a consignment of 52 sides to a meat processor. All the sides were
then processed and mixed with other consignments of beef and dispatched
to eight different food businesses as both fresh and frozen product.
Much of the product was sold on and consumed. However, 21 cases
of frozen meat associated with the untested animal were traced,
detained and destroyed.
In the second incident, a cow aged 77 months and 18 days was slaughtered
on 11 September 2012 at Simply Halal (Banham), a combined abattoir
and cutting plant in Norfolk. The missed test was discovered in
November during routine cross-checks of slaughter and BSE testing
Meat from the untested carcass and three associated carcasses
was sold to five separate food businesses. The local authorities
for the food businesses that received the meat confirmed that
it had all had been sold, in chilled form, and most likely consumed.
In the third incident, the animal, aged 72 months and 193 days,
was slaughtered on 29 November 2012, at Anglo Dutch Meats (Charing),
a combined abattoir and cutting plant in Kent. A batch of 70 animals
was processed that day. Of these, 41 required testing. Forty animals
were tested and all found to be negative. The one remaining untested
carcass went into the food supply.
The missed test was discovered in January following routine cross-checks
of slaughter and BSE testing data. The untested carcass, together
with the three associated carcasses, was sold to Alec Jarrett
Ltd, a combined slaughterhouse and cutting plant in Bristol as
part of a consignment of 108 sides. The meat was then cut at Alec
Jarrett alongside a second consignment from Anglo Dutch Meats.
Some of the cut meat was sold as chilled product to a number of
businesses. The remaining frozen meat was voluntarily detained
at the cold store and subsequently sent for disposal by Alec Jarrett
Ltd. The breach was not the responsibility of Alec Jarrett Ltd.
..Goats test positive for scrapie
Two goats that tested positive for scrapie entered the food supply
following an error at the testing laboratory.
Scrapie is a disease found in sheep and goats and is similar
to BSE. However, there is no known risk to humans from eating
meat from scrapie infected animals. In addition, the parts of
the animal most likely to contain infectivity were removed before
entering the human food chain.
The two animals were slaughtered as part of a batch of 26 goats
on 21 January 2013 at Melton Meat Ltd, a slaughterhouse in Leicestershire.
This was part of the Compulsory Scrapie Flocks Scheme, which allows
undiagnosed animals from flocks affected by scrapie to be monitored
for the disease at slaughter.
The slaughterhouse took the required samples from all the goats
slaughtered that day and received the test results from LGC Runcorn,
an approved testing laboratory, on 22 January. On 23 January,
the results identified two positive samples and those carcasses
were destroyed. The remaining carcasses were immediately released
for sale. However, on 25 January LGC notified the FSA that an
error had occurred at the laboratory and the wrong carcasses were
identified as positive. The two positive carcasses were sold direct
to two private customers from Melton Meat Ltd’s on site
shop. These were cash sales and it was not possible to identify
the customers and retrieve the meat.
LGC has carried out their its internal investigation regarding
the reasons for the error at its laboratory. Melton Meat Ltd was
not responsible for the positive animals entering the food chain.