JACK Cunningham, the Agriculture Minister, is to meet senior representatives from the major burger chains to try to persuade them to lift their ban on British beef.
McDonald's said last night that it was re-examining its position following the Government's announcement that it would ban beef from other European countries unless the EU tightened regulations against BSE.
The chain is studying the results of consumer surveys to see if confidence in British beef has improved since Dr Cunningham's ultimatum last week. "We have always said that British beef is safe and we will return to selling British beef when consumer confidence improves," a spokesman said.
Dr Cunningham has invited senior representatives from McDonald's, Burger King and the other major outlets which are importing to London to discuss how the Government "might help them to change their minds on this matter". The outlets announced at the height of the beef crisis that they would import all their meat from abroad in an attempt to restore consumer confidence.
Officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food went to Brussels yesterday to discuss the lifting of the ban. But Dr Cunningham said it was impossible to say when the ban would be lifted. "It would be foolish in the extreme for me to start speculating about dates," he told MPs.
12 June 1997: EU vets dash hopes for partial lifting of beef ban21 December 1996: Peace on Earth and Big Macs to all men3 May 1996: British beef is back at Wimpy