Prohibited BSE risk material has been found in yet another load of imported beef, this time a consignment from Spain to a Lancashire abattoir, sparking fresh protests from home producers who want a ban on all supplies from the continent. The British farmers' complaints are heard with some sympathy in Brussels, where officials have been engaged in a campaign to enforce new EU rules on carcase trimming after previous incidents involving shipments to the UK of German and Dutch beef contaminated with spinal cord. However, the tonnages of continental beef reaching Britain are much smaller than implied by the indignant reactions of farmers here. Of course there has been a surge with the FMD crisis , but the avalanche widely believed to have been triggered late last year by BSE scares and collapsing demand in France and Germany is a myth. In December, only 9% of total beef imports into the UK were from EU states other than Ireland, and landed volume was 1140t compared to 1392t delivered a year earlier. The multiples began coming under fierce attack from farming lobbyists last summer when it was claimed BSE in France was causing diversion of Irish beef to Britain and the supermarkets here allegedly grabbed all they could at bargain basement prices. Ireland's exports to the UK over the full year were up only about 5% to roughly 82,000t, and December shipments of 8,007t were lighter than 12 months previously. In fact the most notable feature of last year's imported beef trade was an unexpected abundance of South American product, especially Brazilian. {{M/E MEAT }}