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EU lifts restrictions on British meat imports

The European Union declared Tuesday night a complete lifting of restrictions on British meat imports to EU countries, imposed in August following an outbreak of foot and mouth disease.

“We have made this decision because we are satisfied that Britain can gain its completely foot and mouth free status as from November because the outbreak has been successfully dealt with,” European Commission spokesman Michael Mann told journalists. EU veterinary experts approved August 23 a relaxation on the ban for lifestock, meat and dairy produce exports from the UK thanks to effective measures taken by British veterinary authorities.

The last restrictions imposed in August were lifted September 8. The outbreak first occurred not far from Guildford, Surrey August 3. Some 100 cattle were culled then, and British authorities confirmed August 7 that a second outbreak had been discovered on a farm within the 3-km (1.7-mile) protection zone around Guildford. Over 500 cattle were culled over the foot and mouth disease, and no new outbreaks have been discovered so far.

Restrictions will remain on EU imports of livestock from a 10-km (6 mile) zone around the site of the outbreak until November 9. The outbreak has been traced back to Pirbright, a government-funded laboratory, just a few miles from the site of the outbreak. Following the outbreak of the disease in 2001, more than six million animals were culled. Losses to agriculture were estimated at over £8 billion (over $16.3 billion), and Tony Blair, the then prime minister, was strongly criticized for his handling of the situation. (Ria Novosti)