Breaches of SRM controls report 2012

Last updated:
6 September 2012
Due to an oversight, four breaches of BSE controls in British beef identified last year were not publicised immediately on the Agency’s website in the normal manner.

As all specified risk material (SRM) was removed from the beef carcasses it is highly unlikely that there was any health risk to members of the public. SRM is those parts of the animal most likely to contain BSE infectivity. Under European law, SRM must be removed from the carcass after slaughter, stained and disposed of safely.

In the interests of transparency, the Agency is now issuing reports on these incidents.

BSE breaches August 2011

During routine inspections in August 2011 by staff in the Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland (DARD), breaches of BSE controls were discovered in three separate consignments of beef sides received at Omagh Meats, an approved slaughterhouse and cutting plant in Northern Ireland.

On 17 August 2011, a consignment of 76 beef sides was received from West Devon Meat Ltd, an approved slaughterhouse near Okehampton. The documentation accompanying this consignment did not separately identify sides originating from animals aged over 30 months (OTM) and animals under 30 months of age (UTM).

On 23 August 2011, two other consignments of beef sides were received from West Scottish Lamb, an approved slaughterhouse in Carlisle.

The first of these consignments contained 108 sides, 52 originating from OTM animals and 56 from UTM animals. Six of the OTM sides were labelled incorrectly as being from UTM cattle.

The second consignment consisted of 118 sides. Sixteen of the sides listed in the documentation as being from OTM animals were found to be labelled incorrectly as UTM. In addition, two OTM sides were listed incorrectly as UTM on the accompanying documentation.

The vertebral column of OTM cattle is SRM. The European Union transmissible spongiform encephalopathy controls require that UTM and OTM carcasses are identified separately on consignment documentation and are also labelled differently. Although the sides in these consignments were identified correctly by DARD inspectors and Omagh Meats, in accordance with normal practice at Omagh Meats, all the sides were treated as originating from OTM cattle and the vertebral column was removed and treated as SRM.

The receiving business, Omagh Meats, was not responsible for the breaches.

BSE breaches September 2011

In a separate incident, on 1 September 2011, during routine inspection at a different approved slaughterhouse and cutting plant in Northern Ireland, spinal cord was found in a health-marked beef quarter received in a consignment of 224 quarters from ABP Sturminster Newton, an approved slaughterhouse in Dorset. All the other quarters were checked and no further SRM was discovered.

The spinal cord in cattle over 12 months of age is SRM and must be removed. The non-compliant quarter was destroyed and no SRM entered the food chain.

The receiving business was not responsible for the breach.

The official vets in all the originating plants have been informed of the breaches and steps have been taken, in collaboration with the plant management, to prevent a recurrence.