EU line on beef not to UK taste

30th July 1999 at 01:00
BRITISH beef may be safe to eat in restaurants from Rotterdam to Russia, but is still off the menu in Rotherham and Rochdale schools.

Two weeks after the European Union confirmed it was lifting the worldwide export ban on British farming's beleaguered beef producers, many schools here in the UK are still refusing to serve the meat.

A survey by the Meat and Livestock Commission has found nearly a quarter of local authorities still ban beef in their schools, three years after the BSE scandal broke. A total of 44 of 204 authorities in England, Scotland and Wales refuse to put it on school menus.

Many will be reviewing their policies next term. But 10 have told The TES they have no immediate plans to change their stance. Many said parents were happy with the policy.

Brian Atkinson, director of education in Rochdale, said: "Although we do not formally have a ban on beef, we do not serve it in our schools, and we haven't done so for quite some time.

"Our policy all the way through has been that we would respond to requests from schools and parents to change the policy. We have not been getting those requests."

And even some authorities which are currently surveying parents for a response were hesitant about predicting the result.

Leah Barrett, senior school meals service officer at Sheffield, said early results of its consultation launched after requests from heads and governors indicated that many parents were still against beef.

Jon Bullock, spokesman for the Meat and Livestock Commission, said it was a mystery why the ban still existed in some parts of the country. He said:

"Bearing in mind that Franz Fischler, the EU's agriculture commissioner, has said that the export ban would not be being lifted if British beef was not safe, there is no reason why any bans should be in place here.

"We have said that we are willing to help LEAs organise parental surveys on the issue. In many areas, parents have overwhelmingly said they are pleased to have beef back on the menu."

Warwick Mansell

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