Beef sold in the Balearics may soon have its own identity card if a proposal put forward by the Majorcan Socialist Party (PSM) is accepted by the rest of the Balearic government. The proposal consists of increasing the specifications on the labels which have been obligatory for all produce since last January. Mateu Morro, the Balearic minister of agriculture, explained that this would mean, in addition to the animal's registration number, the farm where it was raised and the abattoir where it was slaughtered, the label would also state the beef's origin (in this case the Balearic Islands), how it was fed and a guarantee that it has not consumed forbidden products. All the details of the scheme have been worked out but, said Morro yesterday, the final word lies with the farming sector, as it would be voluntary and exhaustive but not obligatory. However, ministry inspectors would check up on the information on the labels, making sure that the information was true. The ministry has confirmed that about 8'000 head of dairy cows in the Balearics born before 1994 may have been fed animal-based fodder. There are 46'000 head of cattle in the Balearics, half of them on the neighbouring island of Minorca, which has a huge cheese and dairy sector. Morro was speaking after a party meeting, the main topic of which was the mad cow scare. The chief aim of the Balearic agriculture ministry is to restore consumer confidence in beef, hence the PSM's proposal for an ID card which will be put to the cattle breeders, abattoirs and butchers.

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