UK resumes US beef exports after two-decade ban lifted

WION Web Team London, London, UK (Great Britain) Sep 30, 2020, 05.35 PM(IST)

Beef imports Photograph:( AFP )

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Washington imposed restrictions on all EU beef exports in 1998 due to concerns about mad cow disease but has gradually eased them as it tries to negotiate a free trade deal with Brussels.

UK's first beef exports to the United States in more than 20 years left Northern Ireland on Wednesday.

This happened six months after Washington lifted a ban.

Washington imposed restrictions on all EU beef exports in 1998 due to concerns about mad cow disease but has gradually eased them as it tries to negotiate a free trade deal with Brussels. It has permitted Irish beef imports since 2015 and granted the Netherlands approval to renew its exports the following year.

Britain, which left the European Union on January 31 after the 2016 Brexit vote, received permission to restart its transatlantic beef shipments in March. 

British herds were badly hit by mad cow disease -- officially known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) -- in the late 1980s and 1990s.

More than four million cows were slaughtered, then burned on huge pyres across the countryside, in an effort to contain the spread.

Eating infected beef can cause the degenerative brain condition variant Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease (vCJD) in humans. In 2000, 24 people died in Britain from vCJD.

Also, Britain is aiming to strike a free trade deal with the United States as the country tries to take advantage of life outside the EU from 2021.