Russia lifting 26-year ban on meat from Great Britain

Russia is lifting its 26-year ban on meat supplies from Great Britain, which it imposed in 1986 due to a BSE ('mad cow disease') outbreak in that country, the head of Russia's veterinary and phytosanitary oversight body Rosselkhoznadzor Sergei Dankvert told Interfax.

Rosselkhoznadzor based its decision on negotiations with a British delegation headed by the country's chief veterinary office Nigel Gibbens, which took place in Moscow on Thursday.

"We considered research presented by the veterinary service of Great Britain on the situation with this disease in the country, the system of high-risk material monitoring and scientific data, and we decided to make the first step towards resuming trade and permit meat supplies from two enterprises," Dankvert said.

One of the enterprises will supply beef, and the other lamb.

The work performed by the country's veterinary service reduced the danger of this disease spreading to a minimum, Dankvert said. This year, the genetic material of the pathogen was only detected in two cows, whereas in 2008 it was found in 37 animals, "and ten years ago the number of such animals was in the several hundreds," he said.

"The data confirm that the situation is under control. Most importantly, all animals born before August 1996 have been removed from the food chain," Dankvert said. This year, Great Britain banned the use of feeding meal manufactured from ruminant animals, thereby eliminating the largest risk factor. Consequently, this year has also seen a dramatic decline in the propagation of the disease, Dankvert said.

BSE was detected in Great Britain in 1986. Medical professionals believe BSE-contaminated meat is unsafe for human consumption and could cause Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which is incurable. Two hundred people died during the outbreak of this infection in Great Britain.

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