Dutch demand for veal calves may have to be satiated by imports from eastern Europe following the European Union ban on British beef, industry officials said on Wednesday. The Netherlands imports around 100,000 live calves a year in a trade that has incited much protest in the U.K. British calves as young as two weeks old are imported and then fattened and slaughtered at around 24 weeks. The EU Commission on Wednesday declared a global ban on British beef exports over fears of the spread of mad cow disease -- Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy -- and its human equivalent Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Last week, major Dutch retailer Albert Heijn removed British beef from its shelves and the Dutch unit of U.S. hamburger giant McDonalds withdrew 60 tonnes of Northern Irish meat. According to industry officials there had been some tail off in demand for beef generally, whatever its origin, but believed this would soon return now that the EU ban had been imposed. The Dutch are more than self sufficient in beef, producing around 400,000 tonnes a year. Domestic consumption is estimated at 300,000 tonnes and exports at 250,000. Imports from the UK were around 30,000 tonnes last year.

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