§ Ms Blears
[holding answer 9 December 2002]: All licensed abattoirs are permitted to slaughter Beef Assurance Scheme over 30 month cattle, provided they are willing to facilitate their testing for BSE. On receipt of a negative test result, the carcase must be sent to a licensed cutting plant that is separately licensed to remove the vertebral column and dorsal root ganglia before the meat is released for human consumption. All licensed cutting plants are free to apply to the Food Standards Agency for an additional licence to remove vertebral column. It is a simple process, no fee is charged, and all have been encouraged to apply. None has done so in the south-west peninsular.