P.M. BRIEFING : Thatcher Calls French, German Ban on British Beef ‘Illegal’
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said today that the French and West German bans on British beef are “quite illegal” and she insisted that there is no health danger.
“British beef is safe,” the prime minister said during a question period in the House of Commons. “Those who have banned it have done so more as a measure of protection for their own farmers.”
France imposed the ban last week, saying some meat might be tainted with “mad cow” disease. The disease, technically called bovine spongiform encephalopathy, is an incurable and fatal nervous disorder identified in Britain in 1986.
West Germany and Luxembourg imposed their own bans later in the week. West Germany’s Agriculture Ministry said it feared that British beef normally destined for France might be rerouted to West Germany.
Conservative Party lawmaker John Watts said it would be improper for Britain to respond in kind, but he urged British consumers to use their purchasing power to boycott French goods, including “appalling French Golden Delicious apples.”
Another Tory, Alan Amos, was cheered when he said he had eaten British beef for lunch and medical evidence showed that it was “perfectly safe.”