Document Directory

29 Dec 00 - CJD - Dutch Say German beef Posed Mad Cow Risk for Years
29 Dec 00 - CJD - UK FSA finds breach of BSE controls
29 Dec 00 - CJD - Dutch Discover Eighth Case of Mad Cow Disease
29 Dec 00 - CJD - British lamb is joint top for taste in Europe
29 Dec 00 - CJD - Wild ponies pay price of BSE
29 Dec 00 - CJD - Canada tackles 'mad elk disease'
29 Dec 00 - CJD - Thailand bans European BSE over Mad Cow scare
29 Dec 00 - CJD - Jewish Body Feels Mad Cow Pinch
29 Dec 00 - CJD - Mad Cow Fears Lead 40 Percent of Germans to Change Diet
25 Dec 00 - CJD - Head of German health agency demands Sheep tests
24 Dec 00 - CJD - Germany To Test Sheep for Disease
23 Dec 00 - CJD - Germany told to recall meat
23 Dec 00 - CJD - Germany rejects EU charge it bungled Mad Cow scare
23 Dec 00 - CJD - Belgian bans German BSE sales
23 Dec 00 - CJD - Warning About Mad Cow Disease
23 Dec 00 - CJD - WHO fears worldwide Mad Cow disease
23 Dec 00 - CJD - Germans fear the worst as EU threatens to bans their sausages
23 Dec 00 - CJD - Vets' findings add to pressure for French meat bans
23 Dec 00 - CJD - Mad Cows trample the corner snackbar
23 Dec 00 - CJD - Mad Cow fears prompt German meat bans
23 Dec 00 - CJD - Global alert on BSE
23 Dec 00 - CJD - Experts back global BSE alert
22 Dec 00 - CJD - UK refuses to take blame for French BSE deaths
22 Dec 00 - CJD - Mother of CJD victim to give TV address
22 Dec 00 - CJD - French lawsuit blames EU governments for BSE deaths
22 Dec 00 - CJD - CJD 'may have spread throughout world'
22 Dec 00 - CJD - UN Health Agency Sees Global Mad Cow Risk
22 Dec 00 - CJD - Mad Cow Disease May Have Spread
22 Dec 00 - CJD - Germans fear the worst as EU threatens to bans their sausages
22 Dec 00 - CJD - UK Refuses To Take Blame For French BSE Deaths
22 Dec 00 - CJD - BSE may have spread worldwide
22 Dec 00 - CJD - BSE 'manslaughter' threat to ministers



29 Dec 00 - CJD - Dutch Say German beef Posed Mad Cow Risk for Years

Reuters

YAHOO... Friday 29 December 2000


AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Dutch government said on Thursday it had known for several years that imported German beef posed a BSE-related risk, but had deemed the risk too small to justify a ban.

``Germany acted in line with European rules. So we simply could not close our border to the meat. Brussels would not have allowed it,'' said Bas Kuik, a spokesman for the Dutch public health ministry.

However, France had decided unilaterally to stop the import of British beef following widespread cases of BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy), or Mad Cow disease, in Britain.

Until October of this year, European Union rules did not forbid countries from using what are now regarded as high risk animal material in the food chain, for instance as animal feed.

The Netherlands, one of several countries where BSE-infected cattle have been found, stopped using that material on a voluntary basis several years ago.

The Netherlands banned German beef after the first BSE cases in Germany were discovered in November. Meat produced before October was removed from supermarket shelves and destroyed.

To date, seven cases of BSE-infected cattle have been discovered in the Netherlands, although no cases of the human variant, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease have been diagnosed. In Germany seven suspected cases of BSE in cattle have been discovered.

Scientists believe that animals given feed containing high-risk materials as a source of protein--such as bone marrow, spleen and brains from slaughtered animals--can be infected with BSE. Consuming meat products derived from BSE-infected cattle is a suspected trigger of new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans, a fatal neurological illness.


29 Dec 00 - CJD - UK FSA finds breach of BSE controls

Food Standards Agency

MAFF ... Friday 29 December 2000


2000/0078

Friday 29th December 2000

FOOD STANDARDS AGENCY TAKES ACTION ON BREACH OF BSE CONTROLS

The Meat hygiene Service - on behalf of the Food Standards Agency - is investigating a failure of the BSE controls.

The failure, at an abattoir in Devon, was detected during a routine audit by the State Veterinary Service on Monday (18th December). It involved a single sheep. Pieces of spinal cord were found in the carcase after it had been health-marked as fit for human consumption. The Official Veterinary Surgeon involved has been stood down pending the results of further investigation.

The carcase has been destroyed, eliminating any possibility that it might enter the food chain. Investigations to date indicate that this was an isolated incident.

Spinal cord is classified as Specified risk Material (SRM) in cattle and sheep - material most likely to harbour BSE infectivity. By law, it must be removed at slaughter and disposed of in a controlled way


29 Dec 00 - CJD - Dutch Discover Eighth Case of Mad Cow Disease

Reuters

YAHOO... Friday 29 December 2000


AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Dutch government said on Friday it had discovered its eighth case of Mad Cow disease at a farm in the eastern town of Punthorst.

It said it would inform the European Union and that the farm's remaining cows will be examined for the brain-wasting bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) disease, which is colloquially known as Mad Cow disease.

BSE has been linked to the fatal new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which has killed more than 80 people in Britain and two in France since 1996.

The most recent BSE case in the Netherlands was discovered on November 17 this year amid a growing Mad Cow health scare crisis across Europe.


29 Dec 00 - CJD - British lamb is joint top for taste in Europe

By David Brown, Agriculture Editor

Telegraph... Friday 29 December 2000


British lamb is among the tastiest and healthiest in Europe, according to a £500,000 scientific survey ordered by Brussels to settle claims about who produces the best meat in the EU.

After three years of blind tastings by panels of experts in six countries, British lamb from flocks fed on grass was rated higher for flavour than meat from lambs reared intensively on milk in Spain, Greece and Italy. It was also rated better than meat from intensively reared lambs fed on grain in Spain, Greece and France.

In addition, British lamb was deemed healthier for consumers because it contained more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids - derived from alpha-linolenic acid in grass - and less omega-6 fatty acids associated with heart disease in people.

The British meat was bettered only by lamb from Iceland, which has special trade arrangements with the EU, although lamb from grass-fed flocks in northern France, Italy and Ireland also performed well in tests.

The project was funded by the European Commission to examine claims that some regions of the EU produce unique lamb types with particular flavours which could be exploited to increase farmers' incomes.

Prof Jeff Wood, head of the Division for Food and Animal Science at Bristol University, where the project was co-ordinated, said yesterday: "Many people think that all lamb is the same but the results show that there are large differences in eating quality."

The results provide a boost for farmers in Britain, which is the EU's largest sheep producing region. Britain exported 1.1 million live lambs and 110,000 tons of carcass meat worth £255 million last year.

Prof Wood said: "All of the tastings carried out by panels in Britain, Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Iceland were carried out 'blind'. Nobody knew which region the meat they were eating came from."

While all of the panels agreed on which lamb was tastiest, some demonstrated that exporters face an uphill struggle to change long-established eating habits. Prof Wood added: "The members of the Spanish panel agreed which meat had a deeper flavour but they still preferred to eat the Spanish-reared lamb. It was what they were used to."


29 Dec 00 - CJD - Wild ponies pay price of BSE

Tania Branigan

Guardian... Friday 29 December 2000


Continental diners steering clear of beef because of BSE fears are responsible for a flourishing but brutal trade in British wild ponies, an animal welfare group said yesterday.

Compassion in World Farming said that demand for horse meat had risen dramatically, encouraging the slaughter of ponies from the New Forest for French and Belgian dinner tables.

Customs and excise figures show 12,000 horse and pony carcasses were exported from Britain to France and Belgium in 1999 - double the 1994 number. CIWF fears that figure will increase as the BSE scare continues. Sales of beef in France have fallen 40% over the last few weeks.

Almost 4,000 ponies live wild in the New Forest during the summer, but as winter approaches half of them are sold at horse markets, often for as little as just over £1.

CIWF's six-month investiga tion into the trade, which included undercover filming, revealed cruel and illegal treatment of the animals. Government guidelines state that horses require calm, sympathetic and unhurried handling, but the investigators saw ponies being slapped, kicked, wrestled to the floor and grabbed and lifted by the neck and tail. They also trailed tightly packed animals on their seven hour journey to an abattoir in Cheshire.

Peter Stevenson, political and legal director of the organisation, said: "This is a problem that will get worse not better. We would like to see tight enforcement of the laws about markets, but I would also like to see these animals not being sold for slaughter at all. The whole idea of using these horses as meat is anathema to the British public."

The organisation urged the government to launch a public inquiry into the trade and called for breeding restrictions to cut the pony population.


29 Dec 00 - CJD - Canada tackles 'mad elk disease'

By Ian Gunn in Vancouver

BBC... Friday 29 December 2000


More than 1,500 elk are being killed in Canada after an outbreak of the elk version of mad-cow disease.

It is the biggest cull of its kind ever in North America. Elk are farmed in Canada for their meat and parts of their antlers are exported to Asia for traditional medicines.

Canada has not been directly affected by BSE so far, and there is no evidence that the elk version can spread to cattle or humans. Even so, government officials say they want to safeguard against the possibility.

However, some critics say the government may be too late, and that people may already have consumed infected products.

Officially the elk are suffering from 'chronic wasting disease'. But its similarity to bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, has led to the disease becoming more popularly known as 'mad elk disease'.

Severe response

Elk live wild in western Canada, but are also farmed for their meat and antlers. Fourteen elk on Canadians farms have been found with chronic wasting disease in recent months.

The government has ordered more than 1,500 animals on the infected farms to be killed, their bodies burned and buried.

The authorities say it is a deliberately severe response to a limited outbreak of the disease. Elk farming is a $500m industry in Canada, and the measure is designed to protect the reputation of the industry.

Public health is another issue, because the elk are raised for meat and there are growing questions about whether humans may be at risk.

"Chronic Wasting Disease does not affect humans, but everyone recognises the scenario that occurred with BSE," says Brian Peart from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

"It's never possible for a scientist to say impossible. But everything we know up to this time is that it's not a problem," he adds.

Grey area

But critics say that is a carefully worded answer, because 'everything we know' is a very tiny amount indeed. There have been very few studies done on the disease or its ability to move into humans.

The Canadian Government has ordered all meat from possibly infected elk to be destroyed. It has also recalled the velvet from elk antlers that is sold as an alternative medicine - particularly in Asia.

The government recalls go back three years - but there were outbreaks on a smaller scale before that, and some critics wonder whether people may have already consumed meat and antlers from infected animals.

The slaughtered elk will be tested by government scientists to see how many actually had chronic wasting disease. However, the results may not be known for weeks or months.


29 Dec 00 - CJD - Thailand bans European BSE over Mad Cow scare

Associated Press

Nando ... Friday 29 December 2000


BANGKOK, Thailand - Thailand's government has imposed a ban on imports of beef from seven European nations in order to prevent the spread of Mad Cow disease.

Thailand has blocked imports of British beef since 1996 when the epidemic started. The additional countries from which beef imports are now banned are Portugal, France, Ireland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium, according to an agency statement.

The new ban was imposed after the government learned of the latest outbreak of Mad Cow disease - formally known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE - in several European countries spread by cows who ate infected feed, the statement said.

The ban, however, doesn't include dairy products and beef byproduct gelatin which are provided with certificates confirming that the products are free from the disease, the statement said.

Thailand's Food and Drug Administration has sent official letters to inform traders not to import animal meat and products that are from areas where there is a risk of Mad Cow disease, the statement said.

Last week, the government announced it would soon ban livestock products and livestock-related raw materials used for feedmeal production from the European Union.

Ravipong Wongdee, chief of the Department of Livestock Development, said a regulation governing imports of livestock products from the EU had been revised and would soon be made official.

The original regulation, issued in 1996, requires that any such imports be accompanied by official certification guaranteeing feedmeal is free from the disease.

Mad Cow disease is thought to spread to humans as the brain-wasting variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. BSE wasn't identified until 1986, but by the mid-1990s, Britain was seeing tens of thousands of cases a year.

The European Union banned exports of British beef and feed in 1996, and millions of British cows were incinerated. But the disease later appeared on the European continent and has reappeared in recent months in Germany after an increase in France.


29 Dec 00 - CJD - Jewish Body Feels Mad Cow Pinch

Associated Press

JS Online ... Friday 29 December 2000


PARIS - France's Jewish community, which depends heavily on income from sales of kosher meat to fund its institutions and programs, has found its coffers strained in recent months as beef sales plummet over fears of Mad Cow disease.

The Consistoire, which governs religious life for about 500,000 Jews living in greater Paris, stands to lose about $2.8 million next year if observant Jews continue to shun meat - as French consumers of all persuasions have begun to do.

``We think revenues have dropped about 30 to 40 percent over the past two months,'' Moise Cohen, the body's president, said Wednesday. ``Some of our personnel are now out of work because of this.''

The revenue comes from an 8.5 percent levy on more than 4,000 tons of meat sold annually by about 70 kosher butchers.

``Sixty percent of our budget is met by this tax, so when revenues from this tax go down, we have less money,'' Cohen said.

Cohen estimated that the effects of consumers turning toward chicken and other beef substitutes over the past two months has cost the Consistoire about $425,000. The jobs and salaries of hundreds of Consistoire employees - teachers, rabbis and administrative personnel - could be affected if kosher meat sales do not pick up, he added.

Jewish leaders have discussed the problem with officials from France's Agriculture Ministry, who pledged to offer tax relief to help make up for lost revenue, Cohen said.

Fears of catching Mad Cow disease have escalated in France since October, when a supermarket chain had to take urgent action after beef from an infected herd was put on sale. The meat was quickly pulled from the shelves, but consumer confidence in beef plummeted.

Adding to the panic, reported cases of Mad Cow disease jumped in France in 2000, in part because the government broadened its screening for the disease. About 150 cows have been discovered with the disease in France, compared to 31 cases in 1999.

Beginning in January, France will begin testing all animals over 30 months old before they can be slaughtered and marketed as food. Older cows are considered to be at higher risk for the brain-wasting disease.

Seeking to reassure consumers that kosher meat is safe to eat, Cohen pointed out that meat intended for consumption by those who observe Jewish dietary laws is generally derived from younger animals - about 24 months old.

Experts believe infected meat can cause people to contract variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, believed to be the human form of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, which has come to be known as Mad Cow disease.

Two people have died of the human variant of the disease in France. About 80 people have died of the disease in Britain, where it was identified in the mid-1990s.


29 Dec 00 - CJD - Mad Cow Fears Lead 40 Percent of Germans to Change Diet

Staff Reporter

Al Bawaba... Friday 29 December 2000


Forty percent of respondents in a German opinion poll said they had changed their eating habits due to fears over Mad Cow disease, a magazine said Tuesday.

Among those who said they had altered their diets, 48 percent said they had stopped eating beef entirely while 30 percent said they were eating less beef, Max magazine reported, quoting a study carried by public opinion research firm Forsa.

Forty-six percent of those who reported a change in their behavior since the news of the crisis broke in Germany said they were now eating more poultry and 26 percent said they bought more pork.

Six percent said they had stopped eating meat entirely due to fears of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), the medical name of the disease.

BSE has been identified in five cows in Germany in the last month, after officials had said the country was free of the brain-wasting illness.

More than one in two of respondents -- 59 percent -- said they were prepared to pay more for meat that came from well-treated animals raised on organic farms. Thirty-four percent said they would not pay more.

Experts say that eating meat from cattle infected with Mad Cow disease can lead to a fatal human form of the brain-wasting illness, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD).

No case of vCJD has so far been reported in Germany -- BERLIN (AFP)


25 Dec 00 - CJD - Head of German health agency demands Sheep tests

Staff Reporter

Telegraph... Monday 25 December 2000


The head of Germany's national disease control agency is calling for testing the country's sheep for possible variants of Mad Cow disease, according to a newspaper report.

Reinhard Kurth, head of the Robert Koch Institute, said both cattle and sheep had been exposed to the same animal feed that could have contained meat and bone meal, believed to be the main way that Mad Cow disease spreads. He told the newspaper Welt am Sonntag:"There is absolutely no basis to assume that sheep are immune to this disease."

He said, however, that since 1963 in Germany there had only been nine cases in sheep of scrapie, a centuries-old illness that is similar to Mad Cow disease. Still, Kurth said the unknown number of cases are "definitely very, very high." He said: "That means that inspection is miserably bad."

Mr Kurth also cautioned of the danger of blood donations helping the spread of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human form of Mad Cow disease that is believed to be contracted by eating infected beef.

Germany recorded its first case of Mad Cow disease last month and the numbers of infected cattle are growing. Other European countries have started pulling German beef products off shelves and banning imports.


24 Dec 00 - CJD - Germany To Test Sheep for Disease

Associated Press

Telegraph... Sunday 24 December 2000


BERLIN (AP) - The head of Germany's disease control agency has called for tests of the nation's sheep for possible variants of Mad Cow disease.

Reinhard Kurth, head of the Robert Koch Institute, said cattle and sheep had been exposed to the same animal feed that may have contained meat and bone meal, the Welt am Sonntag newspaper reported Sunday. Mad Cow disease is believed to spread through such feed.

``There is absolutely no basis to assume that sheep are immune to this disease,'' Kurth was quoted as saying.

He said, however, that since 1963 Germany has only seen nine reported cases of sheep scrapie, an illness that is similar to Mad Cow disease. Experts believe the cattle disease, which appeared in the 1970s, may be a mutation of the sheep disease.

Mad Cow disease has been linked to a human illness, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Researchers believe it is contracted by eating infected beef.

Germany recorded its first case of Mad Cow disease last month, and the number of infected cattle is growing. Other European countries have started pulling German beef products off shelves and banning imports.


23 Dec 00 - CJD - Germany told to recall meat

By Toby Helm in Berlin

Telegraph... Saturday 23 December 2000


Germany was ordered by Brussels yesterday to recall all exported sausages and other meat products that could be contaminated with Mad Cow disease as criticism grew of Berlin's record in combating BSE.

The demand inflicted a severe blow to Germany's reputation for food safety and the image of its national dish, the wurst. It will mean that any sausages and other meat sold to Britain before Oct 1 and that might contain risky materials will have to be withdrawn from sale.

Shelves stocked with the products in other EU member states and third countries will also have to be cleared.

The European Commission's action follows the discovery of five BSE cases in Germany in the past four weeks. Before Nov 24, when the first case was confirmed, Germany claimed to be BSE-free.

If Germany fails to ensure the withdrawal of products exported before October 1, the commission would force the recall.


23 Dec 00 - CJD - Germany rejects EU charge it bungled Mad Cow scare

By Erik Kirschbaum

South Dakota ... Saturday 23 December 2000


BERLIN, Dec 23 (Reuters) - Germany on Saturday rejected criticism from European Union Farm Commissioner Franz Fischler that it hampered efforts to address the spread of Mad Cow disease with confusing policies and lame excuses.

Fischler said in an interview with Die Welt newspaper that Germany had made the EU's work ``not any easier by trying, as usual, to assign the blame elsewhere.''

Fischler added ``there has been quite a bit of confusion'' in Germany over the spread of Mad Cow disease, where panic has swept the country that until last month believed it was immune to the brain-wasting disease because of its quality controls.

Five cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) have been confirmed in the meat- and sausage-loving country. BSE can lead to the equally fatal brain disease which infected beef can cause in humans -- variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

The scent of a cover-up and a rapid spread of cases in cows have combined to alarm the public and send beef sales plunging. German leaders have criticised the EU, which has responded by pointing out that Germany long thwarted more aggressive anti-BSE steps because it believed its livestock was free of the disease.

The EU informed German officials three months ago about deficiencies it found in the preparations of animal-based feeds, according to a confidential EU report obtained by the newspaper. EU inspectors had found traces of the animal-based feeds that were banned since 1994 in three-fourths of 92 tests taken.

But no action was taken until after BSE was detected in Germany last month.

GERMANY BLAMES EU

Martin Wille, deputy farm minister, dismissed Fischler's charges and said German government officials had worked quickly and efficiently to cooperate with the EU. He blamed the EU Commission for delaying follow-up information Germany requested.

``It is odd that the EU Commission, despite repeated queries, delayed releasing the report for many weeks and thus left German authorities in the dark,'' Wille said in a statement. ``If there were mistakes made in Germany, they will be rigorously tracked down and there will be consequences.''

The Netherlands and Belgium, meanwhile, took steps to warn consumers about the perils of German meat products for the time being -- an ironic twist for Germany after the country had itself long warned its citizens to shun British beef.

Belgium has ordered the withdrawal of all German beef and beef products from sale, Belgian radio RTBF reported. It said Belgian Health and Environment Minister Magda Aelvoet had also advised Belgian citizens to avoid all German beef products. Austria has taken similar steps.

Edmund Stoiber, state premier of Bavaria where most of Germany's infected cows have been found, said the EU should order the slaughter of all German cows younger than 30 months.

``That would be expensive, but it is the only way we are going to win back the consumer confidence,'' he said after visiting a farm in the southern village of Passau.

The German Farm Federation said it wants to set up ``round table'' talks with scientists, political leaders and consumers to help restore shattered consumer confidence in beef.

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's government has admitted making mistakes. Health Minister Andrea Fischer said a warning about some types of sausage containing meat from backbones and other cattle parts seen as carrying a risk of disease transmission had lain ignored in her ministry for a week.


23 Dec 00 - CJD - Belgian bans German BSE sales

Ananova

Press Association ... Saturday 23 December 2000


Belgium has ordered German beef products off the shelves as concern grows about measures to contain the spread of mad-cow disease there.

Five cases of BSE have been found in Germany in recent weeks.

Belgian Health Minister Magda Aelvoet said instructions had been sent to stores to remove German beef products. She warned consumers not to eat such products.

"It seems the German authorities were not able to supply the necessary specifications in terms of health for German beef and derivative products," she said.

The European Commission has called on Germany to recall exported sausages and other foods made with meat possibly infected with Mad Cow disease.

After discovering five cases of the brain-wasting disease in homegrown cattle in recent weeks, Germany has announced a voluntary domestic recall on products that might contain infected meat.

Belgium's action follows a decision by Austria this week to ban beef and cattle imports from Germany. Dutch authorities have also warned consumers to avoid German beef.


23 Dec 00 - CJD - Warning About Mad Cow Disease

Combined News Services

Newsday ... Saturday 23 December 2000


Meat and animal feed infected with Mad Cow disease may have been sold across the globe, raising the possibility of outbreaks beyond Europe, the World Health Organization in Geneva said yesterday.

Maura Ricketts, a physician and WHO specialist, said it was almost impossible to trace where suspect meat or feed might have gone since Mad Cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, was first identified in Britain in 1986.

The United Nations health agency said it would convene a major meeting of experts and officials from all regions on the neuro-degenerative diseases striking cattle and humans.

It will be held in Geneva in late spring, probably in May.

"We know potentially contaminated materials were exported outside the European Community... We are trying to identify the countries that we should put our largest effort into," Ricketts said.

"We are concerned some countries which received materials do not have surveillance systems to detect the disease in animals or the human population," she added. "Countries of the world need to be developing surveillance systems for these diseases." But Ricketts, a Canadian, conceded it would be difficult to trace exported beef and meat products, often repackaged or transformed before being re-exported with new labeling.

"It becomes very difficult, the trail grows cold," she said.

The disease is considered the likely cause of a new variant of the human brain-wasting ailment, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. So far, 87 cases of variant CJD have been identified in Britain, three in France and one in Ireland.

Governments were slow to impose bans on the import of meat and bone meal and other potentially risky animal products, and the goods were exported for a long time after the disease was identified, Ricketts said.

"We may have to sensitize countries to the fact that they are at risk," she added.

Britain has spent $7.5 billion on containing the disease.

If the disease were discovered in a developing country, the economic effects could be even more disastrous, she said.

Meanwhile, German officials yesterday revealed missteps in their response to the outbreak in cattle there and the European Union pressed for a worldwide recall of suspect German-made meat products.

The focus of Germany's scare is so-called mechanically retrieved meat, where shreds are stripped from cattle carcasses, including the spinal column-believed to be especially infectious. The shreds are often used in sausage-making.

Health Minister Andrea Fischer faced growing opposition calls to step down after she admitted that a warning by government experts about sausage industry practices "apparently lay around for 10 days" in her ministry and reports surfaced that there had been similar warnings for years.

The growing scare-and finger-pointing about the blame-has bared consumer safety gaps in Germany, a country that considered itself a healthy island as Mad Cow disease spread across Europe from Britain. Neighboring Austria, a fellow European Union member, banned German beef imports this week.

The United States already prohibits the import of meat and meat products from Germany, the U.S. Agriculture Department said, the result of a ban of European Union beef put in place in 1997 because of the disease.


23 Dec 00 - CJD - WHO fears worldwide Mad Cow disease



News Asia... Saturday 23 December 2000


The World Health Organisation has expressed fears that the Mad Cow disease and its fatal human form, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, might have spread beyond Europe to the rest of the world.

It is concerned that the spread could have resulted from the international trade in meat and bone meal and live cattle.

The United Nations health agency said it would convene a meeting of experts and officials from all regions on the fatal disease later next year.

Experts' concerns centre on British meat and bone meal exports in the 10-year period between 1986, when bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) surfaced in Britain, and 1996, when an export ban was imposed on British beef.

WHO's latest fear comes after two more cases of infected cattle were found in Germany, bringing the total number of cases to five so far.

On Thrusday, Austria banned imports of German beef and cattle, while in France, a Paris court has opened an investigation to determine whether British, French and European Union officials should face charges for failing to take steps to contain the BSE outbreak.

Since 1986, 180,000 BSE cases have been confirmed in British cattle, with 1,300 to 1,400 cases elsewhere in Europe - all but several dozen cases in four countries (France, Ireland, Portugal and Switzerland), according to WHO.

Small numbers of cases have been reported in Canada, Argentina, Italy and Oman, but in each of these countries this was only in imported British bovine, it added.

In all, 87 cases of vCJD have been reported in Britain, three in France and one in Ireland, according to the agency


23 Dec 00 - CJD - Germans fear the worst as EU threatens to bans their sausages

By Stephen Castle in Brussels

Independent... Saturday 23 December 2000


Germany is facing a worldwide ban on the sale of sausage, its national food, as fears sweep Europe that its meat is contaminated by BSE.

The European Commission stepped in yesterday to demand protection for consumers from German wurst and other meat products, saying it would be forced to intervene if the authorities in Berlin failed to act.

The move was a response to panic over the discovery of the fifth case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in Germany on Thursday, and the realisation that "mechanically recovered" infected meat may have been used in meat products.Controls in German abattoirs are laxer than EU regulations stipulate.

Yesterday, three more cases of "Mad Cow" disease were identified in Germany. As the Christmas rush reaches its climax, butchers were reporting plunges of up to 90 per cent in beef and sausage sales. For years Germany has resisted efforts to prevent "specified risk" materials, including spinal columns of infected cattle, from entering the food chain. These materials are thought to be the main cause of the spread of Mad Cow disease, but the German government considered the country free of BSE until November, when the first case was identified.

In March, Brussels warned Germany that some degree of BSE in the national herd was likely, yet Berlin did not introduce the ban on the risk materials until 1 October. Yesterday a voluntary ban was imposed hastily on some meat products - mainly sausages - manufactured before October.

On Thursday, the German Health minister, Andrea Fischer, tried to order the removal of all contaminated products from supermarket shelves but found herself unable to do so in the absence of any clear identification of the products most likely to be affected.

David Byrne, the European commissioner for health and consumer protection, said the Germans should take immediate action to notify all other EU countries about the restrictions already introduced within Germany. But if it is dissatisfied with Germany's efforts, the European Commission has the power to ban food produced in the EU from being exported anywhere in the world.

In Germany, Ms Fischer said she would comply with the EU's demands. However she was fiercely criticised after admitting that a warning about some types of sausage containing meat from backbones and other high-risk cattle parts had been ignored in her ministry for a week before she learnt about it on Wednesday.

Hans-Peter Repnik, a leader of the opposition Christian Democrats in parliament, said: "It is an absolute scandal that Fischer left a warning about the risks lying around in her ministry for a week as if it were just another Christmas card. The woman is in over her head and she has to resign."


23 Dec 00 - CJD - Vets' findings add to pressure for French meat bans

James Meikle and John Hooper in Berlin

Guardian... Saturday 23 December 2000


Pressure for a ban on meat imports from France increased last night after a European commission report criticised shortcomings in the provenance of meat sent for export.

Poor veterinary supervision, unsatisfactory hygiene and failures in the health marking of sausages and other meat products were uncovered during inspections of meat plants by vets working for the commissioner for health and consumer protection, David Byrne.

The food standards agency, which has refused to recommend such steps, said that the report "reinforced the advice we have provided that consumers cannot be certain of the origin of imported meat products".

The French government has been given three months to tighten procedures following publication of the criticism, based on an inspection visit into the processing of products such as mince, paté and sausages last March. Earlier this month, the vets returned to France to monitor anti-BSE controls as part of EU-wide checks.

The results are expected soon and will be closely read by the British food agency. It has recognised that up to 20% of all imports to Britain might have faulty paperwork and admitted problems in verifying the origin of products such as paté, salami and corned beef, which it said are more risky to eat than carcass meat.

The vets visited a plant where meat casings from outside France were added to products such as sausage meat without being marked properly. In one instance, containers carrying casings imported from Brazil had their marks changed to the official ones of the French establishment.

The vet at the plant, whose location is not revealed, did not use the required EU system for export certificates designed to ensure food could be traced back to source, a revelation that provides ammunition for critics of French standards.

Germany, meanwhile, was yesterday urged by the commission to take back potentially unsafe meat products on sale in Britain and other parts of the EU. Mr Byrne warned that, unless Berlin acted, he would ban suspect German meat exports throughout the community.

Such a move would devastate German agricultural sales by forcing supermarkets to withdraw popular foods such as frankfurters and similar meat-based products.


23 Dec 00 - CJD - Mad Cows trample the corner snackbar

John Hooper in Berlin

Guardian... Saturday 23 December 2000


Michael was among the first people I met in Berlin, as I went in search of hot food to see us through evenings of unpacking.

He runs the imbiss round the corner. An imbiss is the nearest thing in Germany to a chippie. Michael's is a kitchen with a counter that faces on to the street. It offers nourishment to nighthawks.

The speciality of the house is Berlin's unique contribution to gastronomy, the curry wurst - a sausage, with or without its skin, sliced crossways into bite-sized lumps, smothered with curry powder and ketchup, and served up on a cardboard tray, often with chips or a crusty roll.

Well into the small hours, you will find a clutch of diners at Michael's imbiss wolfing down wurst and breathing steam into the cold night air: coppers and cabbies, ambulance crews and the odd partygoer on the way home.

Recently, the clutch got abruptly smaller. After it was revealed that BSE had entered German cattle herds, Michael says, his business shrank 30% overnight. Dragging on a cigarette, he bemoaned the injustice of it all.

"Our curry wurst is made of pork. Pure pork," he said, glancing up at a sign his suppliers had given him to put over the serving counter.

" Achtung ," it proclaimed. "Meat and sausages produced by our firm are guaranteed to contain NO BEEF."

But many companies can give no such assurances. Since Germany's health minister declared a few days ago that she would no longer be eating sausage, the public has learned that all kinds of wurst thought to be made of pork actually contain small quantities of recovered meat from other animals. The result is severe wurst angst.

Ahmet should be doing a roaring trade. He runs another snack bar, on the other side of the street, which serves doner kebabs.

Berlin has Germany's biggest Turkish community. There is scarcely a thoroughfare of any consequence without a snack bar with a fat column of slowly broiling meat near the entrance.

The doner kebab has become almost as typical of Berlin as curry wurst, and many of the city's Turkish immigrants depend for their livelihood on preparing, delivering, cooking and selling doner. Which is how, in Berlin, the BSE crisis has acquired an important ethnic dimension, for doners are traditionally made of veal.

"Mine comes from Holland," said Ahmet, flourishing his knife towards the grill beside him. It was mid-afternoon, yet the doner had scarcely been touched.

Ahmet came to Germany in 1979. He worked as a driver until he had saved up the money to buy himself this hole-in-the-wall on Wilmersdorferstrasse, naming it Big Kebap. Now, like tens of thousands of Turkish immigrants who thought they were secure, he faces ruin. "It's hit us very hard," he said. "I'm down by almost 50%."

The main beneficiaries of the crisis are to be found down the street at Bio Company, Berlin's first supermarket for organically grown and reared food.

Georg Kaiser, the manager, said turnover at the meat counter had doubled. "We're not selling as much beef as before," said the butcher. "But even there, we're doing all right."

A billboard has sprung up on the pavement outside. It depicts two juicy steaks and carries the words: "A pleasure free from fear."

Wilmersdorferstrasse is fast becoming host to as many competing slogans as the old Berlin Wall. I saw the latest one yesterday outside Ahmet's kebab bar. "NEW!" it screamed. "CHICKEN DONER!"


23 Dec 00 - CJD - Mad Cow fears prompt German meat bans



CNN... Saturday 23 December 2000


LONDON, England -- The Netherlands and Belgium have joined Austria by issuing warnings over German beef after the discovery of Mad Cow disease there.

The Dutch Health Ministry has advised the public not to eat German meat for the time being and local media in Belgium has reported that the government ordered the withdrawal of all German beef from shops.

Meanwhile, Germany on Saturday has rejected a charge that it hampered efforts to address the spread of the disease with confusing policies and poor excuses.

European Union Farm Commissioner Franz Fischler said in an interview with Die Welt newspaper that Germany had made the EU's work "not any easier by trying, as usual, to assign the blame elsewhere."

Fischler added "there has been quite a bit of confusion" in Germany over the spread of Mad Cow disease, where panic has swept the country that until last month believed it was immune to the brain-wasting disease because of its quality controls.

Martin Wille, Germany's deputy farm minister, dismissed Fischler's charges and said government officials had worked quickly and efficiently to cooperate with the EU.

He blamed the EU Commission for delaying follow-up information Germany requested.

"It is odd that the EU Commission, despite repeated queries, delayed releasing the report for many weeks and thus left German authorities in the dark," Wille said in a statement.

In the latest escalation of the Mad Cow crisis in Europe, five cows have been found in Germany in recent weeks with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), the formal name for the disease.

They are the first German cases of the disease that has cut a swathe through beef industries in Britain, France, Ireland and Portugal and the German health ministry responded by advising Germans against consuming meat products that might contain beef.

Global warning

Belgian radio RTBF reported on Friday that Health and Environment Minister Magda Aelvoet had advised Belgian citizens to avoid all German beef products.

The move follows a decision by Austria to seek a similar ban.

The European Union's food safety commissioner, David Byrne, has urged Germany to withdraw from export certain meat products such as sausages that might harbour Mad Cow disease.

On Friday the World Health Organization (WHO) announced fresh moves to address global concerns over Mad Cow disease.

The WHO expressed concern about what it called "exposure worldwide" to Mad Cow disease and its fatal human form, new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD).

The United Nations health agency said it would convene a major meeting of experts and officials from all regions on the neuro-degenerative diseases striking cattle and humans.

Dr. Maura Ricketts, of the WHO's animal and food-related public health risks division, said on Friday: "Our concern is that there was sufficient international trade in meat and bone meal and live cattle that there actually has been exposure worldwide already."

Since 1986, 180,000 BSE cases have been confirmed in British cattle, with 1,300 to 1,400 cases elsewhere in Europe -- all but several dozen cases in four countries (France, Ireland, Portugal and Switzerland), according to WHO.

Small numbers of cases have been reported in Canada, Argentina, Italy and Oman, but in each of these countries this was only in imported British bovine, it added.

In all, 87 cases of vCJD have been reported in Britain, three in France and one in Ireland, according to the agency.


23 Dec 00 - CJD - Global alert on BSE

Staff Reporter

BBC... Saturday 23 December 2000


The World Health Organisation has expressed fears that BSE, or Mad Cow disease, may have spread beyond Europe.

So far all known cases have been reported in Europe, but WHO officials in Geneva said they were concerned that BSE-infected meat in animal feed may have been sold around the world.

The warning came as prosecutors in Paris began preliminary investigations into whether to bring manslaughter charges against British and French ministers over deaths linked to Mad Cow disease.

Earlier, the European Commission threatened to ban some German sausages because of fears they may be contaminated with BSE.

WHO says the infection may have been spread during the delay before European governments began taking measures to stop the sale of suspect meat and animal feed.

A spokesman told the BBC that there was so far no proof of any cases outside Europe.

But if BSE were to take hold in developing countries lacking Europe's level of infrastructure to deal with an outbreak, the social and economic consequences would be devastating, the official said.

The WHO says it is looking to establish procedures to test for the spread of the disease by way of beef and animal feed imported from Europe.

It envisages a major international conference to discuss the issue next year.

UK hit hardest

In the UK, there was a 10-year gap between the disease first surfacing and the export ban on its beef imposed in 1996.

The UK has by far the biggest number of BSE cases in Europe, but the disease has also struck in France, Ireland, Portugal and Germany.

Eighty-seven UK citizens have died from the brain-wasting human form of the disease, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD). The UK has spent billions of dollars trying to contain BSE.

The WHO and other UN agencies are reviewing the scientific evidence linked to BSE and vCJD.

Legal moves

The legal moves in Paris follow a lawsuit filed last month by families of two French victims of vCJD.

The families want manslaughter charges brought against British officials for allowing the export of suspect animal feed after banning it at home in 1989 - and against French officials for not stopping it.

In October, Lord Phillips' report in the UK's BSE inquiry criticised successive government ministers for repeatedly misleading the public about the threat to human health posed by Mad Cow disease.

'Heavy responsibility'

A UK spokesman pointed out on Friday that the report had decided there was "no criminal case to answer".

But in their writ the French families said that Britain bore a heavy responsibility for "authorising the mass export of animal meal, which they recognise as being the main source of contamination".

Several court cases over BSE have begun in the UK, but they focus on charges of negligence rather than manslaughter - a charge more difficult to prove.

Consumer panic

The French lawsuits deal with the deaths of 27-year-old man in 1996, and a woman who died at the age of 36 last February.

Concern over BSE has sparked consumer panic in France, prompting the government to ban meat and bone meal feed, take T-bone steaks off restaurant menus and institute a sweeping programme of health tests for cattle.

The European Union reacted to the growing anxiety earlier this month by ordering a blanket six-month ban on meat and bone meal in all animal feed, and calling for tests on all cattle older than 30 months from next July.

Unilateral bans

The threat to ban some German sausages comes after the first case of BSE in a German-born cow was announced in November.

German officials had until then claimed that the country's cattle were free from the disease.

Two new cases of BSE in Germany have now been confirmed, bringing the total to five, and more are now expected.

Several European countries have already slapped unilateral bans on German beef and they were joined on Thursday by Germany's neighbour, Austria - one of the few remaining EU countries to be free of BSE.


23 Dec 00 - CJD - Experts back global BSE alert

Staff Reporter

BBC... Saturday 23 December 2000


British food experts are supporting fears expressed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that Mad Cow disease may have spread beyond Europe.

Until now all known cases of BSE and the human variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) have been reported in Europe, mainly in Britain.

But WHO officials in Geneva are concerned BSE-infected meat in animal feed may have been sold around the world during the delay before European governments began taking measures to stop suspect exports.

UK food safety expert, Professor Hugh Pennington, says there may not be a global crisis but all governments should think about what steps they are taking to avoid the problem.

"We thought we didn't have a really serious problem and we didn't clamp down on the meat and bonemeal, which is the main route of transmission of BSE, early enough," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"It is quite right and proper that the WHO is taking this precautionary approach in a sense because once the material has got around it many be many years before you realise that you have a problem.

"You have to act well in advance of actually having cases."

Epidemic fears

In the UK, more than 170,000 cattle have been diagnosed with BSE, compared to around 1,400 in other European countries such as France, Ireland, Portugal and Germany.

Eighty seven British people have died from the brain-wasting vCJD.

There was a 10 year gap between the disease first surfacing in Britain and the beef export ban in 1996.

Since then the country has spent billions of pounds trying to contain the disease.

But the WHO is concerned that poorer nations may not be able to detect or control the disease once it takes hold which could lead to epidemics in cattle and humans in decades to come.

The Chairman of the UK Renderers Association, Brian Rogers, says the warning is entirely plausible.

He said the very stringent controls used to stop the spread of risk material in place in the UK had not been replicated in Europe and other countries.

"In most cases, not at all and in all cases not until recently," he said.

Ministers 'mislead public'

He said the incidence of BSE in other countries may be much lower than in the UK but exports from those regions had continued without being subject to controls.

The WHO warning came as prosecutors in Paris began preliminary investigations into whether to bring manslaughter charges against British and French ministers over deaths linked to Mad Cow disease.

Earlier, the European Commission threatened to ban some German sausages because of fears they may be contaminated with BSE.


22 Dec 00 - CJD - UK refuses to take blame for French BSE deaths

Ananova

Press Association ... Friday 22 December 2000


The UK Government has defended its position over BSE after French prosecutors said they were considering manslaughter charges against Britons involved in handling the outbreak.

The Paris prosecutor's office said the charges could be brought against European officials - including Britons - over deaths from the human version of Mad Cow disease.

The prospect was raised after relatives of those killed in France by the illness - new vCJD - filed lawsuits aginst "persons unknown".

French investigating magistrates are said to have discarded poisoning charges but are looking into possible charges of involuntary homicide.

They are said to want formal charges brought against British and European officials for failing to stop UK exports of animal feed in the early 1990s.

The UK's Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food said it had not been informed about the French legal moves.

But a spokesman said the lengthy Phillips inquiry into the British Government's response to the BSE outbreak had cleared individuals of any blame.

"As the Phillips report concluded, officials and former ministers acted in good faith," he said.


22 Dec 00 - CJD - Mother of CJD victim to give TV address

Ananova

Press Association ... Friday 22 December 2000


The mother of Britain's youngest CJD victim will criticise politicians who she blames for her daughter's death in a moving Christmas Day address on television.

Helen Jeffries' Christmas message to the nation will be broadcast on Channel 4 at 3pm on Monday. It will be on at the same time as the Queen's message on the BBC.

Millions of TV viewers watched the final days of Mrs Jeffries' 14-year-old daughter, Zoe, in October, as she lost her two-year battle against the human form of Mad Cow disease.

Mrs Jeffries, from Wigan, Lancashire, a widow with three younger children, will tell the nation in no uncertain terms how she feels about her daughter's death.

In the pre-recorded address, she says: "We were told by the politicians not to worry about it. How I wish I hadn't listened.

"I lie awake at night thinking about what the politicians have done to my daughter and I just wonder if they can sleep at night.

"Do they feel the anger that I feel, do they feel remorse? I hope so, because they have put us where we are now."

Talking about watching her own child die, Mrs Jeffries adds: "It was as if she had gone to bed one person and got up a different person.

"I feel like somebody's killed my child and I want to know who's done it."


22 Dec 00 - CJD - French lawsuit blames EU governments for BSE deaths

Ananova

Press Association ... Friday 22 December 2000


The Paris prosecutor is investigating after a lawsuit was filed accusing France, Britain and the EU of not acting fast enough to wipe out Mad Cow disease.

The families of two French victims of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease filed a lawsuit in November alleging that Laurence Duhamel, who died of the disease in February at age 36, and 19-year-old Arnaud Eboli, who is dying of it, were victims of poisoning and manslaughter.

The inquiry into manslaughter and "deliberately endangering people's lives" aims to determine who, if anyone, is to blame for the deaths.

Scientists believe that people contract a variant strand of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease from eating meat tainted with BSE, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

The suit filed in November was the first of its kind linked to Mad Cow disease in France, where two people have died from the human form of the disease and where 19-year-old Eboli is on his deathbed.

In Britain, where Mad Cow disease was discovered, about 80 people have died of the illness, which eats holes in the brain and slowly breaks down the body's ability to function.

France was hit by a new wave of panic over Mad Cow disease in October, when batches of potentially infected meat were sent to supermarket chains. The meat was quickly pulled from the shelves but consumer confidence in beef has plummeted.


22 Dec 00 - CJD - CJD 'may have spread throughout world'

Ananova

Press Association ... Friday 22 December 2000


Meat and animal feed infected with Mad Cow disease may have been sold across the globe, raising the possibility of outbreaks beyond Europe.

Maura Ricketts, a World Health Organisation specialist, said it was almost impossible to trace where suspect meat or feed might have gone since Mad Cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, was first identified in Britain in 1986.

She said: "How food is exchanged across borders isn't very transparent or easy to understand. Neither is how cattle feed moves around the world."

Scientists initially were taken by surprise by the disease, which is considered the likely cause of a new variant of the human brain-wasting ailment, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

"The incubation period for this is quite lengthy and the disease appears to be a completely unexpected, novel agent," Ricketts said. "We didn't think that it would make human beings ill."

Governments were slow to impose bans on the import of meat and bone meal and other potentially risky animal products and the goods were exported for a long time after the disease was identified, she said.

Although Britain maintains export records, meat could be sent to one country, processed, relabelled and then moved on, Ricketts said.

"We may have to sensitise countries to the fact that they are at risk," she added.

WHO and other UN agencies have agreed to review the scientific evidence linked to BSE and CJD, including infection estimates, abattoir and slaughter practices, how humans are exposed and disposal of material which may be infected.


22 Dec 00 - CJD - UN Health Agency Sees Global Mad Cow Risk

By Stephanie Nebehay

North Jersey ... Friday 22 December 2000


GENEVA (Reuters) - The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday expressed concern about what it called ``exposure worldwide'' to Mad Cow disease and its fatal human form, new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD).

The United Nations health agency said it would convene a major meeting of experts and officials from all regions on the neuro-degenerative diseases striking cattle and humans. It will be held in Geneva in late spring, probably in May.

WHO officials spoke after an informal meeting of experts reviewed scientific evidence on a variety of issues amid growing consumer concern in countries including Germany and Canada.

Experts' concerns center on British meat and bone meal exports in the 10-year period between 1986, when bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) surfaced in Britain, and 1996, when an export ban was imposed on British beef. There are also wider concerns about European Union exports.

``Our concern is that there was sufficient international trade in meat and bone meal and live cattle that there actually has been exposure worldwide already,'' Dr. Maura Ricketts, of WHO's animal and food-related public health risks division, told a news conference.

BRITAIN'S TOLL: 180,000 BSE, 87 vCJD CASES

Since 1986, 180,000 BSE cases have been confirmed in British cattle, with 1,300 to 1,400 cases elsewhere in Europe -- all but several dozen cases in four countries (France, Ireland, Portugal and Switzerland), according to WHO. Small numbers of cases have been reported in Canada, Argentina, Italy and Oman, but in each of these countries this was only in imported British bovine, it added.

In all, 87 cases of vCJD have been reported in Britain, three in France and one in Ireland, according to the agency.

``We know potentially contaminated materials were exported outside the European Community...We are trying to identify the countries that we should put our largest effort into,'' Ricketts said.

``The only way to know whether or not different countries are at risk is to ask them...These countries themselves have the information that is required to determine if they are at risk.

``We are concerned some countries which received materials do not have surveillance systems to detect the disease in animals or the human population,'' she added. ``Countries of the world need to be developing surveillance systems for these diseases.''

But Ricketts, a Canadian, conceded it would be difficult to trace exported beef and meat products, often repackaged or transformed before being re-exported with new labeling.

``It become very difficult, the trail grows cold,'' she said.

EXTRA VIGILANCE ON RENDERED MATERIALS

Experts reviewed issues including: slaughterhouse practices; ``chronic low dose exposure'' of humans to BSE; mechanically-recovered meat which may contain infected nervous tissue; exposure of sheep and pigs to BSE; testing; and meat and bone meal.

``We thought we had to review how feed moves around the world because of the importance of cattle feed in the transmission of BSE,'' Ricketts said.

``We felt we had to review these tissues that are called 'specified risk materials' and include brains, eyes, the spinal column, parts of the gut content...to find how these materials are being sold for human consumption.''

``We are very interested in the movement of 'rendered' materials around the world since it is quite possible that rendered materials contain infectivity,'' she added.


22 Dec 00 - CJD - Mad Cow Disease May Have Spread

Associated Press

Las Vegas Sun ... Friday 22 December 2000


GENEVA (AP) -- Meat and animal feed infected with Mad Cow disease may have been sold across the globe, raising the possibility of outbreaks beyond Europe, the World Health Organization said Friday.

Maura Ricketts, a physician and WHO specialist, said it was almost impossible to trace where suspect meat or feed might have gone since Mad Cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, was first identified in Britain in 1986.

The disease is considered the likely cause of a new variant of the human brain-wasting ailment, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. So far, 87 cases of variant CJD have been identified in Britain, three in France and one in Ireland.

Governments were slow to impose bans on the import of meat and bone meal and other potentially risky animal products, and the goods were exported for a long time after the disease was identified, she said.

"We may have to sensitize countries to the fact that they are at risk," she added.

Britain has spent $7.5 billion on containing the disease. If the disease were discovered in a developing country, the economic effects could be even more disastrous, she said.


22 Dec 00 - CJD - Germans fear the worst as EU threatens to bans their sausages

By Stephen Castle in Brussels

Independent... Friday 22 December 2000


Germany is facing a worldwide ban on the sale of sausage, its national food, as fears sweep Europe that its meat is contaminated by BSE.

The European Commission stepped in yesterday to demand protection for consumers from German wurst and other meat products, saying it would be forced to intervene if the authorities in Berlin failed to act.

The move was a response to panic over the discovery of the fifth case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in Germany on Thursday, and the realisation that "mechanically recovered" infected meat may have been used in meat products.Controls in German abattoirs are laxer than EU regulations stipulate.

Yesterday, three more cases of "Mad Cow" disease were identified in Germany. As the Christmas rush reaches its climax, butchers were reporting plunges of up to 90 per cent in beef and sausage sales. For years Germany has resisted efforts to prevent "specified risk" materials, including spinal columns of infected cattle, from entering the food chain. These materials are thought to be the main cause of the spread of Mad Cow disease, but the German government considered the country free of BSE until November, when the first case was identified.

In March, Brussels warned Germany that some degree of BSE in the national herd was likely, yet Berlin did not introduce the ban on the risk materials until 1 October. Yesterday a voluntary ban was imposed hastily on some meat products - mainly sausages - manufactured before October.

On Thursday, the German Health minister, Andrea Fischer, tried to order the removal of all contaminated products from supermarket shelves but found herself unable to do so in the absence of any clear identification of the products most likely to be affected.

David Byrne, the European commissioner for health and consumer protection, said the Germans should take immediate action to notify all other EU countries about the restrictions already introduced within Germany. But if it is dissatisfied with Germany's efforts, the European Commission has the power to ban food produced in the EU from being exported anywhere in the world.

In Germany, Ms Fischer said she would comply with the EU's demands. However she was fiercely criticised after admitting that a warning about some types of sausage containing meat from backbones and other high-risk cattle parts had been ignored in her ministry for a week before she learnt about it on Wednesday.

Hans-Peter Repnik, a leader of the opposition Christian Democrats in parliament, said: "It is an absolute scandal that Fischer left a warning about the risks lying around in her ministry for a week as if it were just another Christmas card. The woman is in over her head and she has to resign."


22 Dec 00 - CJD - UK Refuses To Take Blame For French BSE Deaths

Ananova

Guardian... Friday 22 December 2000


The UK Government has defended its position over BSE after French prosecutors said they were considering manslaughter charges against Britons involved in handling the outbreak.

The Paris prosecutor's office said the charges could be brought against European officials - including Britons - over deaths from the human version of Mad Cow disease.

The prospect was raised after relatives of those killed in France by the illness - new vCJD - filed lawsuits aginst "persons unknown".

French investigating magistrates are said to have discarded poisoning charges but are looking into possible charges of involuntary homicide.

They are said to want formal charges brought against British and European officials for failing to stop UK exports of animal feed in the early 1990s.

The UK's Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food said it had not been informed about the French legal moves.

But a spokesman said the lengthy Phillips inquiry into the British Government's response to the BSE outbreak had cleared individuals of any blame.

"As the Phillips report concluded, officials and former ministers acted in good faith," he said.


22 Dec 00 - CJD - BSE may have spread worldwide



BBC... Friday 22 December 2000


The World Health Organisation has expressed its fears that BSE, or Mad Cow disease, may have spread well beyond Europe, where most cases have so far been reported.

At a news conference at the WHO's headquarters in Geneva, officials said they suspected that BSE-infected meat in animal feed may have been sold around the world because of the delay by European governments in imposing bans on the export of meat and bonemeal.

The officials warned that if BSE or its likely human equivalent CJD were discovered in developing countries, the economic consequences would be even more disastrous than those seen in Europe.

They expressed fears that poorer nations didn't have the technical means to detect the disease.

The WHO says it's reviewing the scientific evidence in preparation for a major international conference next year. Meanwhile, international pressure is growing on Germany to stop exporting meat suspected of harbouring BSE, following last month's discovery of the infection in German cattle.

The European Union has told the government in Berlin to withdraw from export sausage-meat made of beef from the backbone and warned that it might otherwise force it to do so.


22 Dec 00 - CJD - BSE 'manslaughter' threat to ministers

Staff Reporter

BBC... Friday 22 December 2000


UK and French ministers could be charged with manslaughter over deaths linked to Mad Cow disease.

Prosecutors in Paris have started preliminary investigations into whether to bring charges, following a lawsuit filed last month by families of two French victims of the brain-wasting human version of BSE, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD).

The families want manslaughter charges brought against British officials for allowing the export of suspect animal feed after banning it at home in 1989 - and against French officials for not stopping it.

A preliminary investigation into the French lawsuits is to be led by a Paris judge, Marie-Odile Bertella-Geffroy, who made her name examining charges against ministers and officials linked to the use of Aids-contaminated blood in transfusions in the 1980s.

The blood scandal, which has drawn comparisons with the Mad Cow crisis, ended with the trial of three ministers, including former prime minister Laurent Fabius, early last year. He was acquitted.

In October, Lord Phillips' report of the UK BSE inquiry criticised successive government ministers for repeatedly misleading the public about the threat to human health posed by Mad Cow disease.

'Heavy responsibility'

A UK spokesman pointed out on Friday that the report had decided there was "no criminal case to answer".

But in their writ the French families said that Britain bore a heavy responsibility for "authorising the mass export of animal meal, which they recognise as being the main source of contamination".

Several court cases over Mad Cow disease have begun in the UK, where more than 80 people have contracted vCJD, but they focus on charges of negligence rather than manslaughter, a charge more difficult to prove.

Consumer panic

The French lawsuits deal with the deaths of 27-year-old man in 1996, and a women who died at the age of 36 last February.

Concern over BSE has sparked consumer panic in France, prompting the government to ban meat and bone meal feed, take T-bone steaks off restaurant menus and institute a sweeping programme of health tests for cattle.

Many schools have banned beef from their cafeterias.

The scare, reminiscent of Britain's Mad Cow crisis in the mid-1990s, broke out in October after three French supermarket chains removed beef from their shelves over fears it might have come from herds where a contaminated cow was found.

The European Union reacted to the growing anxiety earlier this month by ordering a blanket six-month ban on meat and bone meal in all animal feed, and calling for tests on all cattle older than 30 months from next July.

Unilateral bans

The Paris legal move came as the European Commission threatened to ban some German sausages because of fears they may be contaminated with BSE.

European Food Safety Commissioner David Byrne said: "My overriding concern is that consumers in other EU member states are afforded an equal level of protection as consumers in Germany."

German officials had claimed that the country's cattle were free from BSE - until the first case in a German-born cow was announced on 24 November.

Two new cases of BSE in Germany have now been confirmed, bringing the total to five, and more are now expected.

Several European countries have already slapped unilateral bans on German beef and they were joined on Thursday by Germany's neighbour, Austria - one of the few remaining EU countries to be free of BSE.