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MEPs TOUR BRITISH ABBATOIRS

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A delegation of Euro-MPs has begun a three-day tour of British abattoirs and rendering plants to examine what effor...
A delegation of Euro-MPs has begun a three-day tour of British abattoirs and rendering plants to examine what efforts are being made to eradicate BSE -- or 'mad cow disease'. They are members of a special committee set up after the European Parliament published a report which was highly critical of the way Britain and other European countries were handling the BSE crisis.

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.

One of the fact-finding delegation, Conservative MEP John Corrie, said there was little doubt that the new variant, CJD, was linked to BSE.
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