The visit comes as moves to ease the worldwide ban on British beef exports get under way. It follows calls from the European Parliament for a radical shake-up of food safety and for better meat hygiene controls in abattoirs. The MEPs are here to see if these measures have been implemented. Yesterday they visited the port of Dover to inspect security measures to prevent illegal exports of beef.
The MEPs' trip comes at a critical time for Britain. European vets have recommended a partial lifting of the beef ban, at least on BSE-free herds in Northern Ireland. The government believes it is doing enough to justify lifting it elsewhere, too. A favourable report after this visit would strengthen its case.