Post Chernobyl sheep controls to be removed

The Board of the Food Standards Agency agreed on March 20th to the lifting of the last of the ‘Mark and Release’ monitoring controls on sheep introduced in 1986 as a result of the Chernobyl nuclear accident. There are 8 farms in Cumbria, England, still remaining under some form of restriction.

A review carried out by the FSA has assessed whether these protective measures are still required to maintain food safety. The conclusion of this work, undertaken through 2011, was that the current controls are no longer proportionate to the very low risk and removing the controls would not compromise consumer safety.

Following a 12-week consultation with key stakeholders including consumers, affected farmers, farming unions and trade bodies, the Board has agreed to the FSA issuing Consents, which will have the practical impact of lifting controls. This will permit all farms remaining under restriction to move sheep without the need for monitoring from 1 June.

The FSA will also recommend to Ministers in Westminster and the devolved governments, the revocation of the remaining Orders under the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985 (known as FEPA Orders) that currently restrict the movement of sheep in designated areas of the UK. This will remove the legislation made redundant by the issuing of Consents.

Phil Stocker of the NSA commented “The lifting of these controls has to be welcome, as are the findings from the FSA that any risks remaining from the Chernobyl radioactive release are entirely negligible. However, we need to be prepared for any media or public interest and if this happens enquirers should be reminded that the initiative to remove controls came entirely from the Food Standards Agency – the Govt body set up to protect public health.” For further information