MORE local authorities now serve beef in school dinners than before the BSE crisis, according to the Meat and Livestock Commission.
The falling price of beef has meant that authorities which used to shun the meat because it was too costly now serve it in schools.
Meanwhile, many areas that refused to serve it at the height of the crisis have restored it to menus.
Only four local authorities still have a blanket ban on British beef in school dinners while six more areas do not allow it to be served in primary schools.
Kensington and Chelsea, and Barnet, in London, Leicester City and the Isles of Scilly do not allow beef in any school meals.
Brighton and Hove, Bristol City, Lewisham, Richmond-on-Thames, Salford and Suffolk maintain a beef ban in their primaries.
At the height of the BSE scare in 1995, 170 authorities in England, Scotland and Wales, refused to offer beef in schools.
Surveys showing parental support and a change of political control in some authorities have led many areas to put beef back on the school menu.
This time last year 44 of 204 authorities in England, Scotland and Wales would not allow beef to be served. Today no Scottish or Welsh authority has a beef ban and only 10 English councils impose restrictions.
But Tony Goodyer, the Meat and Livestock Commissions school meals manager, said that far more authorities now serve beef than they did before BSE hit the headlines.
This week the independent Food Standards Agency calledfor increased monitoring of sheep to check for the presence of BSE infection. A ban on eating British lamb and the slaughter of the coutry's entire sheep population have not been ruled out.
ANATOMY OF FAILURE
September 1989: MAFF discusses bovine eyeball dissection
February 1990: Scottish Education Department consults and issues advice against using bovine eyeballs in Scottish schools
20 February 1990: Department of Health's principal medical adviser, Dr Hilary Pickles, raises the issue of dissection risk with Dr Diana Ernaelsteen, medical adviser to Department of Education and Science
June 1990: The Government's Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee advises that the eyes of cattle aged more than six months should not be used for dissection in schools
July 1990: Dr Pickles informs Dr Ernaelsteen of the SEAC advice. The division of the DES headed by Barney Baker says it will issue guidance to schools
28 August 1990: first draft of guidance recommends discontinuing all eyeball dissection
21 September 1990: DES reluctant to ban all eyeball dissection
8 January 1990: DES prepares second draft of guidance
30 September 1992: Mr Baker, says he is not willing to give the guidance high priority due to medical advice that it is no longer timely
14 October 1992: Department of Health says guidance must be issued
15-21 December 1992: Guidance sent to English schools
7 January 1993: Guidance issued and sent to Welsh schools