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Progress on Calendar-based Carcase Splitting

30 June 2015

UK – A cross-section of sheep industry organisations has agreed to push the government for a calendar-based system for determining when to split sheep carcases.

Rather than rely on a “mouthing” system, in which lambs are checked for their first set of permanent incisors, a group of farmers, auctioneers and abattoirs have agreed to propose an annual cut-off date of 30 June.

If passed, all lambs sent to slaughter prior to this date will be deemed under 12 months of age and be exempt from carcase splitting.

This follows numerous meetings between Defra, the Food Standards Agency, the National Farmers Union (NFU) and the National Sheep Association (NSA) this year on TSE (transmissable spongiform encephalopathy) regulations.

National Sheep Association chief executive, Phil Stocker, said that any change to TSE regulations, however minor, are met with “resistance” from the European Commission.

He reiterated that there was no evidence for scrapie posing a risk to human health or for bovine spongiform encephalopathy crossing from cattle to sheep in field conditions. 

He added: "While our two organisations will continue to fight for wider-scale reform at a European level, we feel more immediate gains can be made with the proposed change to a calendar-system.

“Following an unprecedented level of industry consultation and detailed discussions with Defra and FSA officials, NFU and NSA have confirmed this change could be made at a UK level, not EU, so we have formally requested George Eustice, Defra Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, to go ahead with this alternative implementation of the TSE regulations.”

NFU livestock board chairman, Charles Sercombe, said he felt the proposed change on TSEs sit “perfectly with the aims” of Mr Eustice’s Great British Food unit.

He said a move towards unsplit carcases would suit the French market - the UK’s largest buyer – where unsplit carcases are “ordinarily essential”.

He said: “In discussion with French importers, we have heard that such a move would be favourable to our exports. We believe this will also pay dividends when it comes to extending our red meat exports beyond the EU.”

Michael Priestley

Michael Priestley
News Team - Editor

Mainly production and market stories on ruminants sector. Works closely with sustainability consultants at FAI Farms.

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