Document Directory

04 Jan 01 - CJD - CJD fears prompt £200m surgical sterilisation plan
04 Jan 01 - CJD - Germany combats Mad Cow disease
04 Jan 01 - CJD - Single-use scalpels to combat CJD
04 Jan 01 - CJD - Hospital drive to cut CJD Risk
03 Jan 01 - CJD - Dead cow dumping causes Spanish uproar
03 Jan 01 - CJD - Slovenia Brings Mad Cow Tests Into Line With EU
02 Jan 01 - CJD - European nations start Mad Cow testing programs
02 Jan 01 - CJD - New EU tests diminish Risk of importing BSE
02 Jan 01 - CJD - France begins slaughterhouse testing for Mad Cow disease
02 Jan 01 - CJD - France begins BSE testing
01 Jan 01 - CJD - Official: European Union Warned Germany About Mad Cow Risk
01 Jan 01 - CJD - New rules to cut BSE Risk
30 Dec 00 - CJD - German Minister Admits Mistakes in Mad Cow Scare
30 Dec 00 - CJD - Top French chef turns his back on meat
30 Dec 00 - CJD - French bons vivants take a battering as superchef takes meat off the menu...
30 Dec 00 - CJD - Austria battles beef smugglers
30 Dec 00 - CJD - China bans animal-feed to stop BSE



04 Jan 01 - CJD - CJD fears prompt £200m surgical sterilisation plan

Staff Reporter

Independent- Thursday 4 January 2001


Government acts over disease threat to patients

Major fears of hospital patients contracting the human form of Mad Cow disease from infected surgical instruments today prompted the Government to order a £200 million overhaul of hospital sterilisation facilities. It wants decontamination procedures improved to end the threat of metal instruments passing on the deadly virus.

The move follows the Government's expert committee on BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) finding a theoretical risk that variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) could be passed on. The Department of Health admitted tonsil and brain operations were among the most risky.

It will also follow the advice of the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC) that disposable, single-use instruments should be used for tonsil surgery from this year. The money will pay for decontamination and sterilisation units, state-of-the-art, fully-automated machines for cleaning surgical equipment within the NHS.


04 Jan 01 - CJD - Germany combats Mad Cow disease

Staff reporter

CBC- Thursday 4 January 2001


BERLIN - The German government has drafted a plan to overhaul its farming practices in response to an outbreak of Mad Cow disease.

Since November, Germany has discovered seven cases of BSE in cattle The plan was drafted by the country's agriculture and environmental departments and is subject to approval by the government Jan. 18.

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) causes a brain-wasting disease in cattle


04 Jan 01 - CJD - Single-use scalpels to combat CJD

Staff Reporter

BBC- Thursday 4 January 2001


Disposable surgical instruments are being introduced to Scottish hospitals in a bid to reduce the risk of patients being infected with the human form of Mad Cow disease.

The Scottish Executive has announced that by autumn this year all tonsillectomies will be carried out with single use surgical instruments.

The move is aimed at reducing the chances of patients being infected with variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD).

Similar steps are being taken in England and Wales after an expert group recommended all UK health departments consider a move to single-use instruments for this procedure.

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Andrew Fraser said: "As our knowledge of vCJD increases, then we must also ensure that clinical practices and procedures keep pace with this knowledge.

"Where that requires improvement to take place, we will take action to implement those measures and reduce risk wherever we can."

"We have accepted the expert advice on vCJD and tonsillectomies - as have the other UK health departments.

"We will shortly issue detailed instructions to the NHS in Scotland on how these improvements will be implemented.

"And, as a result, we expect all tonsillectomies to be carried out with single-use instruments by autumn 2001."

Theoretical risk

Around 7,500 tonsillectomies are carried out each year in Scotland - many of them on children and young people.

The move towards single-use surgical equipment has been welcomed by Hugh Pennington, a professor of bacteriology at Aberdeen University and an expert in BSE, the animal form of CJD.

He said: "By focussing this approach on young people who have tonsillectomies, it's a very rational and sensible way forward that isn't going to bankrupt the NHS. "

He said studies had found prions - possibly the infectious agents responsible for vCJD - present in the tonsils of those who had died of the disease, but not in any studies of tonsils removed from the general population.

Professor Pennington stressed that there was a theoretical risk of transmission if the same instruments were used in successive operations.

"That is always a possibility that if you cut into the tonsil of someone who's going to come down with CJD in a year or so."

He said current procedures to sterilise instruments were not strong enough to eradicate prions, and said sterilisation particularly needed to focus on forceps and other instruments that have a blade .

The NHS in Scotland was allocated an additional £3m this year to support improvements in decontamination.


04 Jan 01 - CJD - Hospital drive to cut CJD Risk

Staff Reporter

BBC- Thursday 4 January 2001


The NHS is to spend millions of pounds to prevent any risk of people contracting the human form of BSE during surgery.

From now on, surgeons will have to use disposable instruments when they carry out tonsil surgery, at a cost of £25m a year.

As part of the programme, the government is giving hospitals a further £200m to modernise NHS decontamination and sterilisation facilities to prevent transmission of vCJD

The Department of Health stresses that the risk of contracting variant CJD during surgery is only theoretical.

Disposable equipment for other types of surgery may be introduced at a later date.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England and Wales, Dr Pat Troop, said: "We still do not know how many people might be incubating variant CJD.

"There is a theoretical risk that it could be passed on through surgical operations from those who have yet to show symptoms of the disease. The highest standards of decontamination are the cornerstone of our strategy to reduce the risks."

She said the government was following advice from the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC) in addressing tonsillectomy operations at this stage.

She added: "This will allow us to learn valuable lessons should we decide ultimately to extend the use of single use instruments to other procedures."

Theoretical risk

tonsils are thought to be a safe haven for these prions. And the worry is that they could be carried on scalpels or other surgical instruments.

Health minister John Denham said: "We have no evidence of any patient being infected with variant CJD in hospital. But while we are still learning about the progress of variant CJD, we should take precautions to reduce the theoretical risk of transmission to patients.

"Scientists tell us that the most effective way to prevent the potential spread of this disease in hospitals is by cleaning and sterilisation to the highest standards."

He said there were no moves as yet to extend single-use instruments to other types of operations.

"SEAC said tonsils were an area where practical steps could be made and that's what we're doing.

"In other areas of surgery, it would be some time before it was practical to introduce single-use instruments. By that time, we will know more about the process of transmission and be able to take a sensible decision then."

Last December, surgeons at one hospital in Portsmouth threatened to stop operations because of faulty sterilisation facilities.

BSE expert

Hugh Pennington, a professor of bacteriology at Aberdeen University and a expert in BSE. the animal form of CJD, told BBC News Online the government's decision was a sensible move.

He added: "By focussing this approach on young people who have tonsillectomies, it's a very rational and sensible way forward that isn't going to bankrupt the NHS.

He said studies had found prions - possibly the infectious agent responsible for vCJD - present in the tonsils of those who had died of the disease, but not in any studies of tonsils removed from the general population.

Professor Pennington added that there was a theoretical risk of transmission if the same instruments were used in successive operations.

"That is always a possibility that if you cut into the tonsil of someone who's going to come down with CJD in a year or so."

He added current procedures to sterilise instruments were not strong enough to eradicate prions, and said sterilisation particularly needed to focus on forceps and other instruments that have a blade.

The number of confirmed cases of vCJD rose from 15 in 1999 to 25 last year.

The Royal College of Surgeons backed the measures, and said it would work with the Department of Health and instrument manufacturers to ensure single use instruments are available as soon as possible for tonsil surgery.

A spokesperson said: "Although the risk is theoretical and there is no evidence of any surgical patient being infected with variant CJD in hospital, it is sensible to take these precautions."

In 1996, almost 59,000 patients had tonsillectomies.

Dr John Collinge, from the Medical Research Council has been calling for action from the government for the last three years.

He said it was known prions, in addition to being found in tonsils , were concentrated in the brain and the spinal column, the spleen, and probably also in the eye.

He told the BBC: "Operations involving those kinds of areas are the ones we're most concerned about."

But he added"tonsillectomies, which is a common procedure that's carried out on young people, particularly children, is a wise place to start ."


03 Jan 01 - CJD - Dead cow dumping causes Spanish uproar

AP in Santiago de Compostela

Guardian- Wednesday 3 January 2001


Overwhelmed by new sanitation rules stemming from Europe's Mad Cow scare, Spanish authorities have provoked an uproar by dumping dead cows in an abandoned mine near a village.

The regional government in Galicia, where Spain's two confirmed cases of Mad Cow surfaced in November, said yesterday that the remains of some 100 cows which died in accidents or of natural causes have been placed in a disused quartz strip mine just outside Lanza in La Coruna province and covered with quicklime.

The dispute comes as officials in another agricultural region, Castile-Leon, reported two suspected cases of the illness yesterday.

Officials in Galicia said the mine burial technique conforms with EU health regulations. They did not say how many dead animals would eventually end up in the mine.

Residents in Lanza are worried that the carcasses will poison streams or ground water.

Lanza, with a population of about 500, falls under the jurisdiction of Mesia, whose mayor, Jose Fraga, appealed to the Galician government to halt the operation.

The mine is 300 metres from one of the houses in Lanza and half a mile from a primary school, Galician agriculture department spokesman, Manuel Cruz, said.

The Spanish government said carcasses must be turned over to local agricultural authorities and incinerated. The problem is that Galicia has about a million cattle and only one incinerator, Mr Cruz said. "It simply can't cope," he said.

- France launched an ambitious programme yesterday to test all 20,000 or so cows over 30 months old slaughtered each week for Mad Cow disease, six months ahead of an EU deadline. In November, the EU decided that all cows over 30 months old must be tested before entering the food chain.


03 Jan 01 - CJD - Slovenia Brings Mad Cow Tests Into Line With EU

Reuters

Central Europe - Wednesday 3 January 2001


LJUBLJANA, Jan 3, 2001 -- (Reuters) Slovenia's national veterinary office said on Wednesday the country had this week started to test all beef cattle over 30 months for Mad Cow disease following a similar measure in the European Union.

"Our rules for protection against Mad Cow disease are now equivalent to those in the EU," Zoran Kovac, director of the office, told Reuters.

The tiny Alpine republic, which is on the fast track for EU membership and hopes to join in 2003, has so far not reported any cases of Mad Cow disease.

Slovenia has also banned the use of meat and bone meal in animal feed while beef imports from all countries that have registered cases of Mad Cow disease have been banned since 1996.


02 Jan 01 - CJD - European nations start Mad Cow testing programs

Agence France-Presse

Nando - Tuesday 2 January 2001


BRUSSELS, Belgium - Member states of the European Union kicked off a sweeping campaign Tuesday to test all cows over the age of 30 months for Mad Cow disease in a move to quell consumer fears about food safety.

EU countries decided in November to boost testing programs for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as Mad Cow disease.

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

Britain and Portugal have been hardest hit by the Mad Cow scare, but each EU country has set out its own testing regimen to determine the prevalence of BSE among cattle over 30 months old, deemed to be most at risk.

In Britain, no specific screenings are expected this year, as all cows more than 30 months old have been banned from the human food supply since 1996.

The disease is believed to have originated in Britain, with more than 177,000 cases detected since 1985. Some 1,200 cases were found in 2000, compared to 2,254 in 1999.

Portuguese Agriculture Minister Luis Capoulas Santos said Friday that quick tests for Mad Cow disease would be introduced in April. Authorities have predicted that a total of about 130 cases would be detected in 2000.

In France, 13 laboratories will conduct some 20,000 tests weekly on cattle across the country, starting this month.

At least 153 cases of Mad Cow disease were discovered in France last year during testing of sick animals, around five times the number detected in 1999.

Seven cases of Mad Cow disease have been confirmed in German-born cows since late November, when the first was discovered.

The German agriculture ministry said Tuesday it could not verify the number of screenings to be conducted in the country, as they are to be carried out at the regional level.

In Spain, cows will be tested in two phases: the first, to start immediately, concerns all at-risk animals, including those slaughtered because they were ill; the second, starting July 1, will have all animals over the age of 30 months tested.

Only two cases of Mad Cow disease have been identified in Spain.

Dutch authorities have said they would be able to test 2,500 animals a day for the brain-wasting illness. Eight cases have been found in the Netherlands.

Ireland has been hard-hit by the illness, with 581 cases of BSE reported since 1989. A total of 19 cases have been identified in Belgium, nine of them in 2000.

In Italy, two animals have been found to be infected with Mad Cow disease, while in both Luxembourg and Denmark, one case has been reported.

No cases of BSE have been reported in Austria, Finland, Greece or Sweden.


02 Jan 01 - CJD - New EU tests diminish Risk of importing BSE

By Andrew Woodcock

Independent- Tuesday 2 January 2001


A new testing programme came into force yesterday aimed at minimising the risk of BSE in processed meat products containing beef from the European Union.

Professor Peter Smith, the acting chairman of the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee, said the new programme involved tests on all slaughtered cattle older than 30 months that were destined for human consumption. He said the tests would reduce the risk of eating infected beef, but did not guarantee that food was 100 per cent safe.

"We can't say 100 per cent safety. Consumers must make their own choice as to whether they eat beef or not," he said yesterday. "What we do know is that thousands of infected animals were going into the food chain in the late 1980s and early 1990s and it is estimated that there is now only about one animal going into the food chain a year."

The new testing programme would help to ensure that processed beef products from Europe did not contain infected material, but would have no effect on imports of fresh beef, because all of that already had to be from cattle aged under 30 months, he said.

Prof Smith added: "Within the last year we have seen cases in countries which have not previously reported it - Spain and Germany - and more cases in France than was expected. This has raised the fear that BSE is more widespread than was thought and this testing programme will much better define the extent of the problem in other European countries."


02 Jan 01 - CJD - France begins slaughterhouse testing for Mad Cow disease

Staff Reporter

CBC- Tuesday 2 January 2001


PARIS - France is hoping to restore consumer confidence in beef by starting a testing program for Mad Cow disease.

Last month, ministers from the European Union met to decide what should be done to keep Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) from spreading in Europe.

Since then, the EU has decided that slaughterhouse tests of all cattle older than 30 months must be performed starting in July.

France has decided to begin the testing early. When the program is up and running France says it will be checking 20,000 animals a week. Any animal found to be infected will be destroyed.

Experts think older animals are more likely to have the disease, having eaten more meat and bonemeal-based feed that could be contaminated.

Consumers panicked last fall when infected meat may have been sold in supermarkets. Sales dropped to 40 per cent.

Eating contaminated meat could cause the human form of the disease, new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD).

About 90 people have died from vCJD, most of them in Britain, the hardest hit of any country. But cases have also been diagnosed in France.

While beef sales are slowly bouncing back, the French government hopes the new testing program will bring them back to normal.

But the tests cost about $100 per cow, which will be passed on to the consumer.

And history shows that more testing will turn up more cases - something not likely to boost sales.


02 Jan 01 - CJD - France begins BSE testing

Staff Reporter

BBC- Tuesday 2 January 2001


France is starting to test all cattle aged over 30 months for BSE, or Mad Cow disease.

Thirteen laboratories nationwide will screen 20,000 cows a week in an effort to restore consumer confidence and meet European Union requirements.

Last year, 153 cases of BSE were reported in France, five times as many as the year before, and French consumers are worried.

Meanwhile two more suspected cases of BSE have been reported in Spain.

Begin quickly

The EU decided in November to order tests for cattle most at risk of BSE in its 15 member nations.

France - which has been badly hit by fears of Mad Cow disease since last year - is starting the programme months ahead of the EU's 1 July deadline.

The panic over BSE has spread across Europe

He described the programme, which will involve about two million cows, as "the only way to beat the crisis and to restore the confidence of consumers".

But there will be drawbacks as well as benefits.

The test, which costs about 500 francs ($72), is expected to drive up the price of beef.

Animals which test positive for BSE will be killed and their carcasses destroyed along with any by-products.

If positive results are confirmed by the French food safety authority, the infected animal's entire herd will be slaughtered and destroyed.

beef scare

French customers have been reluctant to buy beef since October, when it emerged that potentially-contaminated meat had been distributed to three supermarket chains.

There have been calls for French ministers to stand trial over the affair.

Nervousness about beef stems from the outbreak of BSE in the UK several years ago.

Scientists believe that eating infected beef can cause people to develop variant Creutzfelt-Jakob Disease (vCJD), which affects the brain. It is fatal.

More cases in Spain

BSE has since been discovered in a number of other European countries.

The Spanish Agriculture Minister, Jose Valin, said first tests on two dead cows in the Leon-Castille region indicated they had had BSE.

Spain's two cases of confirmed BSE occurred in the north-western region of Galicia.


01 Jan 01 - CJD - Official: European Union Warned Germany About Mad Cow Risk

Staff Reporter

Fox News - Monday 1 January 2001


BERLIN - The European Union renewed its attack on German handling of the Mad Cow crisis Sunday, with a top official saying the union warned Germany nine months ago that its cattle were probably infected, a newspaper reported.

David Byrne, the group's health and consumer affairs commissioner, told Welt am Sonntag that the European Union sent German Agriculture Minister Karl-Heinz Funke a study in March predicting that German cows were carrying the disease.

Byrne said he was puzzled when Funke continued insisting that German beef was safe, the newspaper said.

Funke and German Health Minister Andrea Fischer have come under fire from the European Union, consumer groups and opposition conservatives, who accuse them of acting too late to protect the public.

Seven cows have been found carrying the disease, which is formally known as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy. Scientists suspect more than 80 people who have died from a similar brain-wasting condition, most of them in Britain, may have eaten infected beef.

Funke said Saturday he had based his assurances that beef was safe on reports from an international agency for animal diseases in Paris. He also said that Germany's 16 states last year refused federal appeals to step up testing.

He said he had made a mistake by not pushing earlier for an EU-wide ban on feeding animals with meal containing ground meat and bone. Feed made from infected carcasses is suspected of spreading the disease across much of Europe.

European Union leaders agreed earlier this month to ban its use for at least six months starting in January, though many countries have already stopped the practice.

In the Sunday newspaper, Byrne forecast that Mad Cow disease could be eradicated in the European Union within 10 years if all 15 countries impose tough safety standards.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder used his New Year's address to appoint a senior official, Hedda von Wedel, to identify policy mistakes and draw up a plan to combat the disease.


01 Jan 01 - CJD - New rules to cut BSE Risk

Staff Reporter

BBC- Monday 1 January 2001


A new BSE testing programme is being introduced which should cut the risk of processed beef imports to the UK being contaminated with the deadly disease.

From 1 January all cattle over 30 months in the European Union will be tested for BSE if it is intended for human consumption.

The programme will have limited impact on farmers in the UK where nearly all cattle this age are already slaughtered.

However, it should reduce the risk of imported processed meat products containing infected material.

Fresh beef imports will not be affected as these are already limited to cattle under 30 months.

A government expert has warned the new tests will not guarantee food is 100% safe.

Professor Peter Smith, acting chairman of the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Thousands of infected animals were going into the food chain in the late 1980s and early 1990s and it is estimated that there is now only about one animal going into the food chain a year.

"The risk has come down by orders of magnitude. We can't say it is zero, but it is very small."

The rules were agreed in December following the rapid rise in BSE cases reported in France and new infections in Spain and Germany.

The new procedure is expected to give a clearer picture of the spread of BSE on the Continent where France reported 111 cases last year.

Even greater numbers are expected to emerge in Portugal.

The Food Standards Agency has welcomed the testing programme.

However, a spokeswoman warned Today listeners to remain cautious and only buy meat from reputable outlets.

The agency is campaigning for country of origin labels to be compulsory on all EU beef products.


30 Dec 00 - CJD - German Minister Admits Mistakes in Mad Cow Scare

Staff Reporter

Reuters - Saturday 30 December 2000


BERLIN (Reuters) - German Agriculture Minister Karl-Heinz Funke admitted mistakes on Saturday in his country's reaction to Mad Cow disease as a European Union official criticized him for ignoring warnings earlier in the year.

Germany confirmed its first series of domestic Mad Cow disease cases in recent weeks after long boasting that it was free of BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy). The news has prompted many Germans to avoid beef at the traditionally meat-rich holiday festivities.

``Had we known earlier what we now know, my colleagues and I on a European level should have pushed ahead with a Europe-wide ban on animal feed earlier,'' Funke told German radio.

Yet in an interview released on Saturday, European Union food safety commissioner David Byrne said the EU had already distributed a scientific study last March warning of the possibility of BSE in Germany.

The Welt am Sonntag newspaper quoted Byrne as criticizing Funke for long saying Germany had no BSE problem despite that report.

``I just cannot explain such a statement,'' Byrne said. ``There are presumably many motivations, but I would not like to speculate about them.''

In another interview with the online edition of the weekly news magazine Der Spiegel, Funke said Germany had tested 19,000 cattle brains between 1991 and 1999 without finding a single case of BSE.

``In early 2000, we did not count on BSE cases in Germany,'' he said, adding that experts had been seeking more hard data after the EU report.

Consumer groups and others have stepped up criticism of the government in recent weeks for its handling of the Mad Cow scare, saying it had reacted too late to expert advice to introduce nationwide BSE testing.

Funke said this week he wanted to widen testing to include sheep and called for a European Union plan to examine the possibility that sheep could be linked to Mad Cow disease.


30 Dec 00 - CJD - Top French chef turns his back on meat

By John Lichfield in Paris

Independent- Saturday 30 December 2000


One of the best-known chefs in France announced yesterday that his restaurant would go vegetarian - or almost - from next spring.

Alain Passard, chef at the Arpège in Paris, which has three stars in the Michelin Red Guide, said his decision had no direct link to the BSE crisis in France. He said he no longer found culinary inspiration in meat.

His timing could not have been better (or worse) for French meat lovers. It was also reported yesterday that an EU tour of inspection had discovered serious hygiene problems in the production of French pork.

The fact-finding mission to pig slaughterhouses, whose report was leaked to the newspaper Le Figaro, criticised an absence of the proper veterinary controls and lapses in animal welfare.

Mr Passard, 44, told the newspaper Libèration: "Starting in spring, my menu will be devoted to vegetables. I myself have not eaten meat for a long time.

"We must get back to the essences of the earth. I hope to contribute to a deep change in culinary creation... I want to be the first three-star [chef] only to do vegetables, to be a driving force in the cuisine of vegetables and flowers."

Arpège - where the cheapest lunch-time menu is about £40 - will not become the world's first three-star vegetarian restaurant. Mr Passard will maintain at least one chicken dish. "I like cooking too much to forget poultry," he said.

"As vegetables are a cheaper raw product, we can lower the prices," he added.


30 Dec 00 - CJD - French bons vivants take a battering as superchef takes meat off the menu...

Jon Henley in Paris

Guardian- Saturday 30 December 2000


Battered by revelations about Mad Cows, chickens tainted with dioxins, calves fed on sewage and sausages infected with listeria, France's gourmet pride suffered another blow yesterday when a three-star chef said he was banning all meat except poultry from his menus.

Alain Passard, whose £100 a head Arpège restaurant in Paris's seventh arrondissement was awarded the Michelin guide's ultimate accolade in 1996, said he was concerned by "the turn our food is taking" and would devote his menu to vegetables, with the odd bit of poultry, from next spring.

Mr Passard's announcement - an almost unimaginable leap in a country where vegetarians are considered either not quite normal, or German, or both - coincided with yet another EU report criticising French methods, this time in pork production.

Slaughterhouses, farms and laboratories visited by a team of EU vets earlier this summer suffered from severe hygiene problems, a worrying lack of veterinary controls and major lapses in animal welfare, the report said, echoing a similar EU study of French meat products such as sausages, pate and mince, released just before Christmas.

"Personally, it is many years since I have eaten meat," admitted Mr Passard, 44. "And it has been some time since I have been able to find any culinary inspiration in animal products. I want to become the first three-star chef to use only vegetables, a driving force in the field of vegetable and flower cuisine."

One of France's least flashy and most admired chefs, Mr Passard began his kitchen career as a 14-year-old apprentice and won two Michelin stars at the Casino restaurant in Enghien, Belgium, at 26. He then repeated the feat at Le Carlton in Brussels, and again at l'Arpège a mere two years after opening in 1987.

Admiring chefs say he can tell whether something is properly salted simply by sniffing it.

He withdrew beef from his menus earlier this year and has been followed by several other leading culinary lights. "Even if the risk is only one in a million, we do not have the right to make our customers run it," said Guy Martin of Grand Véfour, a three-star restaurant in Palais Royal, central Paris.

But no other culinary demi-god has so far dared to remove meat from the menu altogether. While he admitted there were "some excellent producers of beef and lamb", Mr Passard said his decision was motivated as much by personal choice as by safety concerns.

"I can no longer stand the idea that we humans have turned herbivore ruminants into carnivores," he said. "But also, I can't get excited about a lump of barbecue meat. Vegetables are so much more colourful, more perfumed. You can play with the harmony of colours, everything is luminous."

He said he would keep poultry on the menu because he was "too much of a cook to do away with poultry", but would be very selective with seafood, offering it on a day-by-day basis according to the quality available.

"I won't put fish or shellfish on my menu in the future," he said. "I don't want to be constrained by what's on my menu to have to offer lobster from Rungis [the central French food wholesale market outside Paris]. If you had seen some of the stuff on sale there, you'd understand."

Those diners who can afford l'Arpège's prices and happen to have read yesterday's EU report will doubtless be relieved by the imminent absence of pork. At one abattoir inspectors found that hygiene conditions were atrocious and saw "animals that were obviously not fit for transport or human consumption".

"The animals were stabbed on a conveyor belt and blood was collected in an open system with high risk of contamination from unclean skin," the report said. "Not all workers had easy access to washing facilities. Hand-held hoses were frequently used for rinsing hands and tools, leading to a high risk of contaminating carcasses."

The year of eating dangerously

January : Oysters and other shellfish withdrawn after oil spill off Brittany coast; 23 cases of listeria including seven deaths from contaminated jellied tongue.

April : Eighteen cases of Mad Cow disease in first three months of year compared with 30 in all 1999.

July : 16,000 tonnes of doctored butter discovered.

October : Cow intestines, traditionally used to make sausages and other charcuterie, banned over BSE fears.

October : BSE-infected meat reaches three major hypermarket chains, sparking 40pct fall in consumption.

November : Meat-and-bone meal banned in all animal feeds; beef ribs outlawed unless cut differently; 1,800 kg of rotting duck meat products found just before hitting shops.

December : Two tonnes of out-of-date beef seized by Normandy farmers.


30 Dec 00 - CJD - Austria battles beef smugglers



CNN- Saturday 30 December 2000


VIENNA, Austria -- More than 1,500 pounds (680 kg) of meat has been seized in Austria since the country banned German beef imports last week.

Cattle and beef from Germany were banned after its fifth confirmed case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as Mad Cow disease.

Customs authorities in Austria -- one of the few European countries with no reported cases of the brain-wasting cattle disease -- have vigorously enforced the embargo.

There have been surprise searches at rest areas and truck stops with smugglers facing fines of up to $4,000.

On Thursday, inspectors fined a German haulier who had smuggled 40 pounds (18kg) of beef products into the western Austrian province of Tyrol, the Austria Press Agency reported.

Another driver was fined after 40 pounds (18kg) of veal liverwurst and processed meats were discovered in his truck during a surprise search at a highway rest area just inside the Germany-Austria border.

And authorities tracked down another haulier trying to bring 420 pounds (190kg) of sausage and processed meats from Germany to a grocer in western Austria. He was fined and escorted back to the border.

Scientists believe eating BSE-infected meat could cause the human variant, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Germany has announced a voluntary recall of all domestic meat products that might be infected -- and Europe's food safety commissioner David Byrne has called on it to extend this to exports.

The discovery of BSE has already cut a swathe through beef industries in Britain, France, Ireland and Portugal, and Austria has brought in strict measures to try and protect its agricultural sector.

All cattle in Austria must be registered, and packaged meat must include labels stating the name of the farm and the slaughterhouse that produced it.

Despite the precautions the Agrarmarkt Austria, which handles agricultural products in the country, says beef consumption during the first week of December dropped as much as 25 percent from the same period last year.


30 Dec 00 - CJD - China bans animal-feed to stop BSE

Staff Reporter

BBC- Saturday 30 December 2000


China is to ban all animal-based feed imports from European Union countries, in an attempt to prevent the spread of the cattle disease, BSE or Mad Cow Disease.

Announcing the ban, the official Chinese news agency, Xinhua, warned that all government departments should take rigorous measures to stop the spread of epidemics like Mad Cow Disease.

Xinhua said any one who flouted the ban would be punished. BSE-contaminated meat can cause the fatal disease, CJD, in humans.

Most BSE cases in cattle have been found in Britain, with other European countries also reporting cases.

It is believed cattle contract BSE through eating contaminated animal-feed.