TB Meat Claims Quashed01 July 2013
UK – The UK agriculture ministry Defra has quashed allegations that people eating beef are at risk from contracting tuberculosis, describing the claim as ‘irresponsible scaremongering’.
Only a ‘low’ risk is posed to the consumer, regardless of how the meat is cooked, if at all, stated a Defra spokesperson.
“The Food Standards Agency has confirmed there are no known cases where someone has contracted TB from eating meat,” the spokesperson stated.
“All meat from cattle slaughtered due to bovine TB must undergo rigorous food safety checks before the meat is passed as fit for consumption. As a result, the risk is extremely low, regardless of whether or how the meat is cooked.”
Yesterday, the Sunday Times reported that diseased cattle, slaughtered after reacting positively for bovine tuberculosis, are being sold for human consumption by Defra, with no notification to warn processors or consumers that it comes from bovine tuberculosis (bTB) infected cattle.
Although most supermarkets and Burger chains ban the meat, revenue from the sales are worth £10 million a year to the farming ministry, according to the Sunday Times.
However, Defra has assured that vigilant testing of meat from cull cows is undertaken which significantly reduces risk.
Nick Allen, sector director for EBLEX, outlined the carcase inspection procedure: “FSA guidelines are clear and are based on the current science. Notably, if localised tuberculosis lesions are found in more than one organ or area of the carcase during the post mortem, the whole carcase and its offal and blood should be declared unfit for human consumption.
“If lesions are found only in a single organ or part of the carcase, the instructions require the removal of the affected organ or part of the carcase as unfit for human consumption," stressed Mr Allen.
An independent Food Standards Agency Veterinarian has the final call as to whether to carcase is fit for human consumption, Mr Allen concluded.
Regulations are reviewed by the European Food Safety Authority Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food - the independent advisory panel to the Food Standards Agency.
More comments from EBLEX are expected today.