On 7 December 2012, during a routine inspection by Food Standards Agency staff at Simply Halal (Banham) Ltd, a combined slaughterhouse and cutting premises in Norfolk, it was discovered that 25 beef quarters had left the premises without the vertebral column being removed.
Simply Halal sold the quarters to a meat wholesaler. The wholesaler's records were incomplete and as a result it was only possible to trace and detain one of the quarters. This was destroyed. It is probable that meat from all the other quarters was consumed.
The quarters were from cattle over 30 months of age. The vertebral column of cattle over 30 months is specified risk material (SRM) and must be removed. The risk from the meat that entered the food chain is very low, as it is extremely unlikely that any of the animals involved had BSE. Only three cases of BSE were recorded in the UK in 2012. None of these animals entered the food chain.
Meat from a cow over 72 months of age entered the food chain without being tested for BSE.
The animal, aged 73 months and 4 days, was slaughtered on 11 October 2012, at Woolley Bros (Wholesale Meats) Ltd, a combined abattoir and cutting plant in Sheffield. The error was discovered on 4 December 2012 during routine cross-checks of slaughter and BSE testing data.
According to regulations any cattle that have not been tested, along with the animal slaughtered immediately before it and the two immediately after should not enter the food supply.
The four affected carcasses were sold as part of consignment of 90 beef sides to a food business operator in the Netherlands. In addition, cheek meat from the same batch of animals was sold to a business in Germany. No meat from the animals entered the UK food supply and the Agency notified the Dutch and German authorities of the breach of controls and that meat from the affected animals had entered their countries.
It should be noted that since 1 March 2013 there is no longer a requirement to test healthy slaughtered cattle over 72 months of age for BSE before they enter the food supply.