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UK beef import restriction partially relaxed (with photos)

     The Secretary for Food and Health, Dr York Chow, announced today (May 17, London time) during his meeting in London with the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs of the United Kingdom (UK), Lord Taylor, that the processing of applications for import of specified bone-in beef from the UK to Hong Kong would resume with immediate effect.

     Joined by the Permanent Secretary for Food and Health (Food), Mrs Marion Lai, Dr Chow confirmed the partial relaxation of the import of bone-in beef from the UK and the relevant import arrangements at the meeting.

     Dr Chow said, "In view of the UK's implementation of enhanced control measures against Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE, also known as mad cow disease), the Government has decided to partially lift the suspension of imports of UK bone-in beef without compromising food safety."

     Following the partial relaxation of the import restriction, beef rib cuts and other bone-in products (except vertebral column cuts) from cattle less than 30 months old are allowed to be imported from the UK. In addition, boneless beef from cattle of all ages are also allowed to be imported from the UK. Each and every consignment of beef products must have the Centre for Food Safety's prior written permission and be accompanied by a health certificate.

     Dr Chow said that the Government is committed to exploring more types and sources of food in order to provide more choice for members of the public. The partial relaxation of import restrictions on UK beef is conducive to this policy objective.

     "At the same time, the Government will closely monitor the situation to ensure food safety. We will review the import requirements as and when necessary," he added.

     The import of beef from the UK was suspended in March 1996, after the detection of BSE in the country. The import of UK boneless beef excluding offal from cattle less than 30 months old has been allowed since June 2009. The Government began discussions with the UK authorities on the import of bone-in beef from the UK and the relevant detailed arrangements some time ago.

     Dr Chow is conducting a two-day visit to London. He will visit the Roman Road market in the afternoon to look at the operation of an open-air hawker market. He will also meet with officials from the UK's Department of Health to exchange views on medical and health issues.

Ends/Thursday, May 17, 2012
Issued at HKT 17:17


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