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Ban on British Beef Rescinded

November 24, 1998| Associated Press

BRUSSELS — The European Union voted Monday to lift a worldwide export ban on most British beef, a milestone in the "mad cow" dispute that has pitted Britain against its European allies for nearly three years.

"The beef ban is lifted," British Agriculture Minister Nick Brown said. "The beef is safe to eat."

Ten of the 15 European Union agricultural ministers meeting here voted to end the ban on deboned beef, with Germany the lone holdout. France, Spain, Austria and Luxembourg abstained.

British beef exports were banned in March 1996 after Britain announced a possible link between "mad cow" disease in British cattle and a fatal brain ailment in humans called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

The ban has cost the industry in Britain more than $3.3 billion and undermined confidence in beef throughout Europe.

The move to ease the ban was boosted early this month when eight out of 15 veterinary experts endorsed the plan to resume exports.

"The question now is how to get back on the world markets," said Brown, predicting an uphill struggle to restore the reputation of British beef.

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