Beefy i-cards

Published: Friday 15 November 1996

in a bid to restore consumer confidence, shaken to core due to the mad cow disease, the European Commission has agreed to a scheme wherein all eu cattle and products will be labelled and provided with a compulsory passport. The labels will carry the animal's place of birth, sex, method of fattening, where fattening and slaughtering took place, date of slaughter, length of time the beef was hung and the method used to remove the bones to extricate the meat.

According to Franz Fischler, eu commissioner for agriculture, "It is unlikely that we would have seen the huge drop in beef consumption which resulted from the scare if this identification and labelling system had been in operation prior to the bse (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) crisis". Beef consumption has recorded a 17 per cent fall compared to last year.

Though the scheme is voluntary (much to Austria's and Germany's disgust, who want it to be compulsory), eu officials hope that all member states will opt for it.

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