Transmissible spongiform encephalopathy regulations must be updated as they cost too much to implement and are damaging trade, John Cross claims.

Outdated transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) regulations which demand older lamb carcases be split to remove specified risk materials (SRM) are adding unnecessary cost to the industry and hindering international trade.

That was the view put forward by EBLEX chairman John Cross at the organisation’s first annual beef and lamb industry conference in Warwickshire on Tuesday (November 5).

He also suggested some of the legacy regulations introduced at the time of the BSE crisis in the mid-1990s were no longer fit for purpose.

He said: “Regulation must be the result of science-based risk assessment and management in order to protect and benefit society.

“Regulation in the food chain is essential for a safe consumer environment. In the past, regulations around BSE and TSEs more generally, along with SRM measures, were science-based and fit for purpose and I think we can all look back and feel reassured that the scientists got it right.

“These safeguards are equally important for other countries interested in importing our products so they understand the level of risk and the control measures we have in place.

“Thankfully, BSE is behind us but we have some legacy pieces of regulation left that are outdated and a hindrance to both trade and our international reputation. I mention this particularly with regards to older lamb carcases which have to be split to meet the statutory checks, when customers want them whole.

“Regulation is essential in the food chain but let’s keep it live, scientifically informed, risk-based and fit for purpose. The current situation needs reviewing.”

More than 170 delegates attended the event to hear detail of the work EBLEX carries out in a number of areas, including exports, as well as listen to guest speakers including Somerset farmer Ed Green, Rizvan Khalid, of Euro Quality Lambs, Andrew Loftus, agricultural manager for Morrisons, and NFU vice-president Adam Quinney.

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