Document Directory

23 Jan 01 - CJD - Two new suspected cases of Mad Cow disease found in Spain
23 Jan 01 - CJD - Italy accuses EU of Mad Cow cover-up
23 Jan 01 - CJD - Mad Cow disease & makeup, new fears
23 Jan 01 - CJD - Iran Halts Meat Import from Germany for Fear of Mad Cow Disease
22 Jan 01 - CJD - EU Says Costs for Mad Cow Disease Could Hurt Its Agricultural Budget
22 Jan 01 - CJD - Mad Cow Sparks Debate in Bullrings
22 Jan 01 - CJD - FDA Makes Moves Against Mad Cow
21 Jan 01 - CJD - vCJD families to be offered 25,000
21 Jan 01 - CJD - Calves of BSE cows in food chain
21 Jan 01 - CJD - Elk get the blame as US is hit by CJD scare
21 Jan 01 - CJD - Europe Culls Herds To Fight Mad Cow
21 Jan 01 - CJD - Mad Cow Compromise Allows Hoxworth to Keep More Blood Donors
19 Jan 01 - CJD - FDA panel: Move will fight Mad Cow disease
19 Jan 01 - CJD - 'Mad deer' disease no Risk to humans, FDA says
19 Jan 01 - CJD - CJD Risk: 'right to know' plan
18 Jan 01 - CJD - FDA Considers Mad Cow Precautions
18 Jan 01 - CJD - FDA Makes Moves Against Mad Cow
18 Jan 01 - CJD - Mad Cow Frenzy Moves To Italy
18 Jan 01 - CJD - Mad Cow disease fears endanger Northeast Ohio's blood supplies
18 Jan 01 - CJD - Countries rush to prevent Mad Cow disease
18 Jan 01 - CJD - French ministries are raided in BSE inquiry
18 Jan 01 - CJD - banned Material Found In German beef Shipments To UK
18 Jan 01 - CJD - beef seized in BSE checks



23 Jan 01 - CJD - Two new suspected cases of Mad Cow disease found in Spain

Ananova

PA News- Tuesday 23 January 2001


PAMPLONA, Spain (AFX) - Two new suspected cases of Mad Cow disease were discovered in cows slaughtered in the northern Spanish region of Navarre , officials said yesterday.

Tests showed the animals, aged six and seven, were probably suffering from bovine spongiform encephaloathy (BSE), they said.

Further definitive tests will be carried out in the national laboratory at Saragossa in the northeast.

The cases, if confirmed, will be the first to be discovered in Navarre.

Another suspect case is awaiting confirmation in Cantabria, also in the north of the country.


23 Jan 01 - CJD - Italy accuses EU of Mad Cow cover-up

Associated Press

Independent- Tuesday 23 January 2001


Italy's agriculture minister has said that a former EU Commission tried to conceal the risks of the Mad Cow disease when the crisis over infected beef first broke out in Europe.

There is "an EU document that, in the wake of the first emergency, even suggests disinformation as a means to quell public opinion," Agriculture Minister Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio was quoted as saying in La Repubblica today.

Pecoraro did not refer to the current EU Commission but to the one in place in 1996, when the first Mad Cow crisis started in Britain and spread across the continent. About 80 people died, mostly in Britain, of an illness identified as a variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which scientists believe can be transmitted to people who eat infected beef.

At the peak of the crisis, the EU Commission imposed a ban on British beef exports, which was lifted in 1999, and millions of British cows were killed and incinerated.

"There are personal responsibilities, but also a general attitude which has led us straight to the disaster," Pecoraro Scanio, a Green, told the newspaper. "The (EU) scientific committees have made comforting remarks almost to the extent of being irresponsible."

Europe is now dealing with another Mad Cow crisis, sparked by the discovery of infected animals in France in October, along with a recorded case of its human form. It has since spread across the continent.


23 Jan 01 - CJD - Mad Cow disease & makeup, new fears

Staff reporter

CBC- Tuesday 23 January 2001


TORONTO - The federal government is studying the possibility that Mad Cow disease could exist in beef byproducts that are used in vaccines and cosmetics .

Experts say hundreds of products contain ingredients made from bovine by-products, including some common childhood vaccines such as tetanus, polio and diphtheria .

Health Canada says it's conducting risk assessments on vaccines. It says there is no evidence the risk exists, but it also says it can't be ruled out.

Anti-aging cream

Cosmetics are also an area of concern - especially expensive anti-aging creams imported from Europe. Many contain lightly-processed bovine brain and nerve tissue.

European and American officials have asked manufacturers not to use ingredients from any country with a risk of Mad Cow infection.

Health Canada says it's considering import restrictions on any products that contain raw biological tissue.

Again, experts say the risk is extremely low. But they say until more is known about the disease, it's better to err on the side of caution.

A government inquiry in Britain concluded, "It seems to us undesirable that so little is known about products which offer a potential pathway infection."

At least 80 people in Britain and France have died from Mad Cow disease. Governments around the world have blocked the trade of infected animals and meat.

Meanwhile, Italy is grappling with a tough decision - whether to ban beef on the bone.

Just last week, authorities discovered the country's first case of Mad Cow disease in six years. The cow came from a slaughterhouse that supplies the McDonald's food chain .

Now, health officials say the country's famous culinary delight, the Bistecca Fiorentina or Florentine beefsteak, may itself be banned. France has already made that step and the German government is considering a similar move.

The European Union is planning to destroy two million cattle across Europe this year.


23 Jan 01 - CJD - Iran Halts Meat Import from Germany for Fear of Mad Cow Disease



Al Bawaba- Tuesday 23 January 2001


Iran has halted the import of German meat for fears of Mad Cow disease that has spread to several European Union countries, reported Tehran Times newspaper, quoting an official at the state veterinary organization (SVO).

Head of the organization, Samad Yeganeh, said the before the spread of the disease, Iran signed a contract for importing 4,300 tons of red meat from Germany.

"To prevent the flow of infected cattle to Iran, illegal cattle will be segregated from the rest and vaccinated against different kinds of disease."

He said that the recent severe drought in Afghanistan has resulted in the smuggling of thousands of livestock to Iran via southeastern cities of Zabol and Zahedan, according to the daily.

The paper said the Taliban movement had purchased the infected cattle from Pakistan which had imported them from Europe.

More than 80 people have died in Britain, and two in France from Mad Cow disease, which is also called Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), according to the daily.

The number of countries imposing bans on beef imports from Europe is on the rise. Several Gulf countries have banned importing beef from Europe recently.


22 Jan 01 - CJD - EU Says Costs for Mad Cow Disease Could Hurt Its Agricultural Budget

Staff Reporter

Wall Street Journal- Tuesday 22 January 2001


BRUSSELS, Belgium -- The European Union estimated on Monday that the price tag of dealing with the mad-cow crisis across Europe would cost it about $1 billion , possibly putting other agricultural programs at risk.

The EU's executive office said the costs of carrying out mandated tests for the disease on cattle over 30 months, in addition to spending money on a so-called "purchase for destruction" program, could cut deeply into the EU's agricultural budget for this year.

Mad Cow, also known as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, is a brain-wasting ailment that scientists believe is linked to a human variant, Creutzfeld-Jakob disease.

"It is quite reasonable that [Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy] measures are going to cost money," said EU spokesman Gregor Kreuzhuber.

To combat the disease and restore public confidence in beef consumption, EU countries this month initiated a mass slaughter program, which foresees buying and incinerating up to two million head of cattle by the end of June.

"The additional costs as compared to the budget 2001... amount to one billion euro," Mr. Kreuzhuber said.

EU countries also began requiring all cattle over 30 months to be proven disease-free before the beef can be sold. Meat from any old cattle that isn't tested cannot be consumed.

Mr. Kreuzhuber said additional funding beyond committed money by EU governments were at this point "not on," but added that this could change if beef consumption within the 15-nation bloc continued to drop.

beef sales have slumped by 27% across the EU as a result of the latest outbreak.

"If the severe crisis in the beef market persists, there are two options," he said.

The EU could either decide on increasing the agricultural budget or could absorb the costs and draw the funds from other programs, Mr. Kreuzhuber said. The EU set aside an emergency fund of around one billion euro ($934.4 million) in its last agricultural policy reform agreement, which was negotiated in 1999.

Meanwhile, Italy's government, alarmed by Europe's mad-cow crisis, is considering a prohibition on beef cuts containing the vertebral column, such as the T-bone steaks and Tuscany's famous delicacy, the fiorentina, health minister Umberto Veronesi said. Italy, which long considered itself free of the disease, discovered its first case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy this month, after beginning a mandatory testing program for animals older than 30 months on Jan. 1.

Nearly 90 people are believed to have died in the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe from the human form of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy. On Friday, scientific advisers to the Food and Drug Administration recommended additional steps to protect U.S. residents from Europe's continuing epidemic of the disease.


22 Jan 01 - CJD - Mad Cow Sparks Debate in Bullrings

Associated Press

Las Vegas Sun- Tuesday 22 January 2001


MADRID, Spain (AP) -- A centuries-old tradition in Spanish bull fighting of selling the dead animals to butchers could be suspended, with the government saying Monday it was considering a temporary ban over fears about Mad Cow disease.

The Agriculture Ministry, one of the agencies grappling with Spain's share of the Mad Cow scare, said it will make a decision before the bullfighting season begins in earnest in mid-March.

Adult fighting bulls are usually four years old, and European Union rules call for Mad Cow tests on all cattle over 30 months of age that are slaughtered for human consumption.

Fighting bulls would have to be tested right after they die in the arena, but Spain lacks the veterinary manpower needed to test all of the estimated 11,000 bulls killed in 2,000 bullfights every season.

No case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, a brain-wasting illness with a fatal, incurable human equivalent, has been reported among fighting bulls.

Under European Union rules, if a fighting bull tested positive all cows or bulls on the ranch where that animal was raised would have to be destroyed, at tremendous expense to breeders.

To avoid that risk, breeders, bullring owners and other industry sectors say they are willing to see sales of bull meat banned temporarily, until testing is made easier with a kit that can be used on live animals.

Until then, the industry wants to negotiate for the government to pay compensation of $340 per slain bull, which would be cremated instead of heading to the butcher's shop.

Meat from slain bulls accounts for about 10 percent of revenues for ring owners, who buy the animals from breeders. For many Spaniards this meat is a delicacy.

"We are not willing to give up providing such a valued product," said Alfonso Rodriguez Montesinos, a veterinarian who acts as spokesman for the National Association of Fighting-Bull Breeders.


22 Jan 01 - CJD - FDA Makes Moves Against Mad Cow

By Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer

L A Times - Tuesday 22 January 2001


WASHINGTON--Anyone who lived in France for a total of 10 years since 1980 should be banned from donating blood in the United States because of fears of Mad Cow disease, the government's scientific advisers decided Thursday.

But the Food and Drug Administration advisory panel stopped short of recommending a similar ban for all of Western Europe, which is experiencing a Mad Cow disease crisis.

However, people who lived for 10 years in Portugal or Ireland should be banned, because those countries may be at just as much risk of Mad Cow transmission as France , the committee decided by a narrow 8 -7 vote.

The moves comes over a year after the FDA banned blood donations by any American who has spent just six months or more in Britain, where Mad Cow disease caused the world's worst cattle epidemic of the brain destroying disease known scientifically as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy or BSE.

In the mid-1990s Britons caught a human version of the brain disease from eating infected beef. Eating infected beef has since been blamed for a new version of a human brain-destroyer, called "new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease," that has stricken more than 80 Britons.

No one knows if the human version of Mad Cow disease could be spread by blood, although some experiments with animals suggest it might.

BSE has not been found in American cattle. While regular CJD, the kind not connected to infected beef, does strike Americans, federal health officials insist no Americans have been diagnosed with the new variant CJD.

The American Red Cross urged the FDA panel to be even more strict, calling for a ban similar to the British ban of six month for residents in France. But the panel noted that so far only three people in France have come down with the new CJD and the numbers of infected cattle are much lower there, too. So the panel decided on these far longer time periods simply as a precaution.

It was unclear just how many Americans have spent that long in France and thus would be affected by the ban.

While BSE is spreading through cattle through all of Western Europe, the panel decided there wasn't enough risk for a blanket ban, saying a full European ban would hurt the U.S. blood supply far more than the theoretical risk of BSE.

But some panelists singled out Portugal and Ireland for special concern as cattle infections in Portugal are considered higher than other European countries and in Ireland one person has been diagnosed with new CJD.


21 Jan 01 - CJD - vCJD families to be offered 25,000

By David Cracknell and Jenny Booth

Telegraph- Sunday 21 January 2001


The families of the 88 victims of new variant CJD will each receive 25,000 in compensation, ministers will announce this week.

The payments will be made under the "no blame" compensation scheme announced by the Government following the official BSE inquiry. Yesterday victims' families warned that if this was all that was on offer they would challenge the Government in the courts. Their solicitor, David Body, told The Telegraph that he understood that this was an interim payment, and that ministers would make further payments in the future.

Government lawyers have warned them, however, that granting any larger sum now could open the Government up to a huge compensation bill if the death toll finally runs into thousands. The families had hoped for hundreds of thousands of pounds after the Government inquiry chaired by Lord Phillips criticised former ministers and officials for their failings when the risks associated with infected meat were discovered.

The 25,000 payout was condemned as "completely unacceptable " by David Churchill, whose 19-year-old son Stephen died of vCJD in May 1995. Mr Churchill, 62, said that the Government had spent 4 billion on compensating the farming and meat industry for financial losses caused by the BSE epidemic. He said "Virtually from the start there has been an open cheque book, with no one bothering to cap the amounts paid out, yet they have been very tardy in offering any compensation to the families of those who have died."

Malcolm Tibbert, the chairman of the Human BSE Foundation, a family support group, said that to allot only 2.2 million to "buying off" the families was beyond belief. Mr Tibbert, whose wife Margaret died of vCJD five years ago, leaving him to bring up his four-year-old son Daniel, said: "That is nothing short of being insulting. If that is the case then I shall be extremely angry and so will the rest of the families. We will see them in court. "

Alan Milburn, the Health Secretary, will make the announcement in the Commons on Tuesday. Downing Street is expected to say that the 25,000 on offer for each family is more than at first anticipated, although this is disputed by the victims' families. Mr Body, a solicitor with the firm Irwin Mitchell who represents most of the families, has said that claims on behalf of the families could fall within a range of 75,000 to 250,000 each.

Mr Churchill, who founded the Human BSE Foundation with his wife, Dot, after their son's death, said that as well as the grief of bereavement and the horror of watching their relative's painful, drawn-out death, some of the families had suffered financial hardship because they has lost a breadwinner.

Mr Churchill said: "We had one situation where a family rang and said that because they had lost the mother of two young children, the husband had had to give up work to look after them. He did not know how to buy food or pay the electricity bill. These are the people who need compensating: they need it now, and they need it at an appropriate level."

The Government announced in October that it would pay "no blame" compensation to the families when the Phillips Inquiry report was published. Lord Phillips criticised ministers and civil servants for failures to act which had made the epidemic more severe, and probably increased the number of victims of the human form of the disease.

Hundreds of haemophiliacs could be infected with the human form of Mad Cow disease after a donor suffering from new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease donated blood. The revelation comes after the Bio Products Laboratory, in Elstree, Hertfordshire, which turns blood plasma into clotting factors, sent letters to the haemophiliac centres across the country it supplies, just before Christmas.

The laboratory said that it had been informed that a donor had been diagnosed as suffering from vCJD. Plasma from the donor was supplied to them in 1996/97.


21 Jan 01 - CJD - Calves of BSE cows in food chain



Sunday Times- Sunday 21 January 2001


More than 8,000 calves born to BSE-infected cows have entered the food chain in Britain in the past five years , according to new figures. Government scientists are unable to confirm how many, if any, were infected with the disease.

Health regulations stipulate that only calves from infected mothers that are less than six months old must be destroyed. It is thought the 8,500 calves sold as meat since 1996 were older than six months.

A spokeswoman for the Consumers' Association said: "Because of the uncertainty over maternal transmission and the fact that these calves have been allowed into the food chain, there should be a review of the rules.

"BSE is an evolving issue and the science is constantly evolving and more needs to be done to get evidence of levels of risk."

About 30 people died last year from variant CJD, the human form of Mad Cow disease. A wide range of regulations have been put in place to protect consumers.

All calves under six months whose mothers subsequently display signs of BSE are automatically culled, as calves born within six months of their mothers showing symptoms of the disease are most at risk of transmission. They have a one in 10 chance of catching BSE.

Cattle over 30 months are also kept out of the food chain and, in addition, the brain and spinal cord of all cows are removed, as these are often a conduit for the BSE agent.

Government scientists say there is no evidence that calves born outside the six-month period will contract the disease but cannot be certain.

"The science is not absolutely clear in that we are not absolutely sure there is no increased risk," said Professor Peter Smith, acting chairman of the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee.

"We can never say the risk is zero. I would be very confident that the risk to public health is quite low, mainly because we have no evidence these animals are at increased risk of BSE."


21 Jan 01 - CJD - Elk get the blame as US is hit by CJD scare

By David Usborne in New York

Independent- Sunday 21 January 2001


Health authorities in the United States are rushing to reinforce regulations designed to protect its citizens from new variant CJD.

In a flurry of meetings at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in Washington, experts last week moved to tighten up the rules for blood donations by anyone who has lived in a growing list of European countries. Experts are also examining a widening epidemic of a BSE-related disease among deer and elk .

The US authorities insist that there have been no cases of the British strain of or BSE on American soil or of humans contracting new variant CJD. Some consumer groups, however, point to loopholes in existing regulations and argue that the US may be harbouring its own version of BSE that may similarly jump to humans.

"It's here," said Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers' Association. "They are starting to make noises about it now in the last days of the Clinton administration because they know it is going to burst into the open on the Bush watch. It is one thing that is going to bring the new administration down."

On Thursday, an advisory panel at the FDA recommended widening current measures forbidding anyone who has lived in Britain for six months or more since 1980 from giving blood. New provisions would also bar donations from anyone who has lived in Portugal , Ireland or France for 10 years or more.

Experts are also looking at an epidemic of the BSE-related chronic wasting disease (CWD), which has struck elk and deer herds in several western states. CWD rates among some deer herds have reached 15 per cent. And the FDA is rushing to examine the cases of three unusually young CJD victims. All three were venison eaters from the western US .


21 Jan 01 - CJD - Europe Culls Herds To Fight Mad Cow



Guardian- Sunday 21 January 2001


LOUGHREA, Ireland (AP) - Noel Garner, a bushy-haired farmer raising cattle in the verdant hills of western Ireland, was stunned when Mad Cow disease struck his small herd last month.

An even bigger shock came a few days later, when the carcass he had buried at the edge of a pasture showed up back on his doorstep.

Neighbors had driven a mechanized digger to the grave, unearthed the cow and carted it back to Garner's place in an old oil barrel.

They were afraid that diseased particles would seep into their water supply, said Gus Egan, who runs the livestock mart in Loughrea, County Galway. ``The people were right,'' he said. ``I'd do the same thing.''

The case highlights the problem facing European countries as they initiate mass slaughters to stop the dreaded disease and revive collapsed markets: what to do with the bodies.

The ``purchase for destruction'' program launched by the 15-nation European Union this month foresees buying and incinerating up to 2 million head of cattle by the end of June, at an estimated cost to governments of $1 billion.

But implementation has been stymied in places by logistics as well as ethical concerns about sending so much prime beef up in smoke.

``It's an awful shame and a disgrace,'' Egan says, echoing a sentiment heard across Europe. ``With all the people starving all over the world, to destroy perfectly good meat...''

New evidence that Mad Cow disease had spread from Britain to continental herds prompted EU leaders last month to adopt mandatory testing for cattle over 30 months. Any animal that isn't confirmed free of BSE - Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy - can't go to market.

Germany, which started testing three weeks early, has found only 16 cases out of more than 112,000 tests conducted. Belgium found two in 7,550 tests.

Ireland has had more cases - almost 600 since 1987 - than any country outside Britain. But of 17,500 tests so far this month, not one revealed BSE, according to Irish Agriculture Minister Joe Walsh.

Yet the wide-scale testing has led to isolated discoveries of BSE in places that had considered themselves pristine, including an Italian slaughterhouse that supplies McDonald's.

Thus, a measure meant to reassure Europeans has actually heightened fears of eating infected meat and contracting the fatal, brain-wasting, new variant Creutzfeld-Jakob disease.

beef sales have tumbled by 27 percent across the EU - and as much as 50 percent in some countries. Many non-EU countries have suspended imports altogether.

And because sales are down, vast numbers of healthy cattle must be slaughtered just to prevent oversupply.

Ireland, a country with twice as many cows as people, usually exports 90 percent of the 550,000 tons of beef it produces annually to countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf states - all of which have enacted temporary bans.

``Farmers have to regularly bring their old cows that are ready for slaughter to the slaughterhouse, but right now no one is buying them,'' Franz Fischler, the EU agriculture commissioner, explained in an interview with the German weekly Die Zeit.

``We can't simply shoot them to the moon,'' he added.

Yet the sheer numbers are making even slaughter and disposal difficult.

Lacking enough abattoirs and incinerators, authorities in Portugal's Azores Islands on Monday postponed the slaughter of some 5,000 cattle. They plan to send some of the doomed cattle to the Portuguese mainland.

Ireland has only a handful of small, private incinerators that handle hospital and pharmaceutical waste.

Since 1997, Irish slaughterhouses had been shipping the potentially infectious animal parts - brain, spinal cord and parts of the intestines - to the only plant in the country licensed to deal with it: Monery By-Products in County Cavan.

The plant turns the material into powdery meal and liquid tallow. Until last month these were shipped to Germany for incineration. But now EU rules require the entire intestine to be treated as ``specified risk material,'' trebling the weight of material Monery has to process.

The plant, which is licensed to handle 1,000 tons a week, had to stop accepting shipments last week because of backlogs. Officials made emergency arrangements to blast-freeze and store the guts until Monery can catch up.

Meanwhile, the thousands of carcasses slaughtered under ``purchase for destruction'' also are waiting to be processed.

In the first week, Ireland slaughtered 4,000 cattle under the scheme, and expects to cull 300,000 of its national herd of 7.5 million.

Currently they are being frozen until they can be rendered into meal. That will then have to be warehoused until an incinerator is built - something that could take years given traditional opposition from environmental groups and neighbors.

``The Irish solution has been dumping your problem on someone else,'' said Walsh, the Irish agriculture minister. ``But we cannot indefinitely dodge this problem.''

Walsh predicts the 50,000 tons of meal in storage will swell to 200,000 tons in six months. And the cost to Irish taxpayers - not counting building an incinerator - will likely approach $170 million, he said.

Many feel the money is being wasted.

Some suspect the government doesn't want the cows tested for fear of finding more BSE cases. Others call it morally wrong to destroy beef that in all likelihood is safe.

On Irish radio Wednesday, Walsh dismissed as unworkable suggestions that the meat be sent to poor countries, canned and stored for natural disasters, or even used for dog food.

``We're not crazy,'' he insisted, adding that giving it away to Third World countries would only disrupt their local markets - assuming any would take it.


21 Jan 01 - CJD - Mad Cow Compromise Allows Hoxworth to Keep More Blood Donors

Staff Reporter

Cincinatti Now - Sunday 21 January 2001


The Hoxworth Blood Center may now have less to worry about with new proposed new restrictions on who can donate blood. Only long-term residents from France, Portugal and Ireland will be banned from donating, according to an FDA advisory panel.

The blood bank has already lost 275 donors since the Food and Drug Administration banned anyone from giving blood who visited england for 6 months or more... because of fear of "Mad Cow disease". Hoxworth says many of those newly "banned" donors were multi-gallon donors who the blood center had depended on for years.

With new cases of "Mad Cow" disease found in France, Italy, Portugal, and Ireland; the American Red Cross, which handles about half the nation's blood banks wants the FDA to ban blood from anyone who's been in Western Europe for over 6 months. Hoxworth feared it could lose another 6% of donations.

Instead of just 6 months, an FDA advisory panel decided on Thursday that anyone who lived in France, Portugal and Ireland for a total of 10 years since 1980 should be banned from donating blood in the United States because of the potential risks of spreading "Mad Cow" disease.

But the Food and Drug Administration advisory panel stopped short of recommending a similar ban for all of Western Europe, which is experiencing a Mad Cow disease crisis.

The moves comes over a year after the FDA banned blood donations by any American who has spent just six months or more in Britain, where Mad Cow disease caused the world's worst cattle epidemic of the brain destroying disease known scientifically as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy or BSE.

In the mid-1990s Britons caught a human version of the brain disease from eating infected beef. Eating infected beef has since been blamed for a new version of a human brain-destroyer, called "new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease," that has stricken more than 80 Britons.

No one knows if the human version of Mad Cow disease could be spread by blood, although some experiments with animals suggest it might. BSE has not been found in American cattle. While regular CJD, the kind not connected to infected beef, does strike Americans, federal health officials insist no Americans have been diagnosed with the new variant CJD.

The American Red Cross urged the FDA panel to be even more strict, calling for a ban similar to the British ban of six month for residents in France. But the panel noted that so far only three people in France have come down with the new CJD and the numbers of infected cattle are much lower there, too. So the panel decided on these far longer time periods simply as a precaution.

It was unclear just how many Americans have spent that long in France and thus would be affected by the ban. While BSE is spreading through cattle through all of Western Europe, the panel decided there wasn't enough risk for a blanket ban, saying a full European ban would hurt the U.S. blood supply far more than the theoretical risk of BSE.

But some panelists singled out Portugal and Ireland for special concern as cattle infections in Portugal are considered higher than other European countries and in Ireland one person has been diagnosed with new CJD.


19 Jan 01 - CJD - FDA panel: Move will fight Mad Cow disease

by Earl Lane

Newsday.com- Friday 19 January 2001


Blood Donor Restrictions Urged Bethesda, Md. -- Blood donations by those who have lived for lengthy periods in France, Ireland and Portugal should be banned to help prevent Mad Cow disease from taking hold in the United States, an FDA advisory panel recommended yesterday.

However, the Food and Drug Administration panel did not recommend that blood donor restrictions, already in place for the United Kingdom where the Mad Cow epidemic began, be extended to all of Europe.

Officials of the New York Blood Center, the collection agency for some 200 hospitals in the New York metropolitan area, had warned that a wider ban would have had a serious impact on its blood supplies. They said the center received a significant amount of its supply of red blood cells from Europe under agreements with blood centers in Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

Robert Jones, president of the New York Blood Center, told the panel that restrictions on donated blood from Europe "would reduce availability to our hospitals by 25 percent." The FDA panel voted 15 to 1 against a proposal that would bar blood donations by anyone who had lived in Europe for a cumulative period of 10 years or more since 1980. It did recommend, by a 10 to 6 vote, that donations be barred from anyone who had lived in France for 10 years or more for the same period. The panel also voted, 8 to 7 with one abstention, that similar restrictions be applied to Portugal and Ireland.

Since 1999, the FDA has banned blood donations from those who lived at least six months in the United Kingdom from 1980 to 1996, the year that nation's measures to prevent spread of the disease were judged effective.

Cattle get Mad Cow disease, formally called Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, by eating the tissues of other infected animals. The British cattle are thought to have been infected by eating feed made from slaughtered sheep.

The infectious agent is believed to be a protein called a prion, twisted into an abnormal shape, that can accumulate in the brain in toxic amounts. S`pongelike holes appear in the brain tissue, causing erratic behavior and eventually death. The abnormal prions can be passed from one species to another, including humans, by ingestion of affected beef and beef products.

The human version of Mad Cow disease, a new variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, has affected more than 80 people in Britain and has begun to appear in other European countries as well, including three cases in France and one in Ireland. Increased surveillance has turned up substantial numbers of animals infected with Mad Cow disease in France, Portugal and Ireland in the last several years, the panel was told, presumably because the affected cattle had eaten contaminated feed exported from Britain.

While there is no convincing evidence that the infectious agent can be transmitted in humans via donated blood rather than by eating tainted food, specialists say it is best to err on the side of caution. There has been some reports of blood-borne transmission in animal experiments.

Most experts agree that the risks of Mad Cow disease and its human version are low in the United States. There are no proven cases in American cattle. Still, there are many unanswered questions about the disease and its possible routes of transmission.

The American Red Cross -- which collects about half of the nation's blood supply -- urged the federal panel to recommend that FDA apply restrictions similar to those already in effect for Britain across the board in Europe.

Jacquelyn Frederick, executive vice president of the Red Cross, told the panel that her organization was prepared to increase its recruitment of blood donors to make up for the estimated 5 to 6 percent reduction in donors if tighter restrictions were applied to all of Europe. "The American public will respond to the availability issue," Frederick said.

However, the FDA advisory panel, with some members citing lack of available data on risks, declined to recommend that the FDA back the more sweeping restrictions on blood donors favored by the American Red Cross. The FDA typically follows the suggestions of its advisory panels although it is not obligated to do so.

Blythe Kubina, a spokeswoman for the Red Cross, said her organization will assess the vote by the FDA advisory panel and determine whether to go ahead on its own with broader restrictions on blood donations from Europe. The Red Cross also called for expanded research to better understand the pathogens that cause Mad Cow disease and to create a screening test to readily identify the infectious agent in blood. No such test currently exists.

The advisory panel meeting, which continues today, comes amid concern that the United States, while free of Mad Cow disease so far, must be even more vigilant. The FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture already have taken steps on several fronts to prevent the disease and its human version from entering the United States.

In December, the FDA told U.S. pharmaceutical companies not to use bovine serum from nations with Mad Cow disease for the manufacture of vaccines against flu and other diseases.

The agency also has been trying to step up inspection of animal feed producers in the United States and has warned of seizures, shutdowns and even prosecution if they continue to violate rules meant to keep American livestock from eating imported meat and bone meal made from slaughtered animals that could have been infected by the agent the causes Mad Cow disease.


19 Jan 01 - CJD - 'Mad deer' disease no Risk to humans, FDA says



Nando Times - Friday 19 January 2001


WASHINGTON - Some deer and elk in several Western states have been diagnosed with an illness similar to the brain-wasting illness known as Mad Cow disease, but so far there is no evidence that people can catch the disease, the government's scientific advisers ruled Friday.

This "chronic wasting disease" was first identified in the 1960s, and spreads slowly through herds.

It raised concern because it is a relative of Mad Cow disease. People can get a similar disease called "Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease," but only a new version of that illness, called "new variant CJD," has been linked to eating infected beef.

The Food and Drug Administration asked experts on these brain-destroying illnesses, called "spongiform encephalopathies," to gauge whether chronic wasting disease could be spread to people, either through infected meat or when hunters field-dress kills in the wild.

So far, the FDA's scientific advisers decided, the risk to people is theoretical.

"To date there's no identified instance of disease in human beings attributable to chronic wasting disease, either through contact (with sick animals) or through consumption," said panel chairman Dr. Paul Brown of the National Institutes of Health.

Among evidence the panel considered was microscopic and molecular biological testing of three CJD patients who were hunters. The testing diagnosed regular CJD, not the new kind linked to diet. Nor did epidemiological studies find signs of problems, Brown said.

Still, he suggested people hunting elk and deer in areas where infection occurs take caution, advising against, for example, eating the brains of such animals.

So far, chronic wasting disease has been found among deer in the wild in northeast Colorado, southeast Wyoming and parts of Nebraska. It also has been found in some commercial elk farms in Colorado, Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska and Oklahoma, and in Saskatchewan, Canada.

Sick animals lose weight, are lethargic or listless and may excessively salivate. But wildlife officials say the disease may be present up to 18 months before symptoms appear.

Most elk breeders slaughter an entire herd as a precaution when a case of chronic wasting is found, an important protective step, Brown noted.

Wildlife officials also have been tracking chronic wasting disease, asking hunters to submit the heads of kills so the brains can be tested for the illness.


19 Jan 01 - CJD - CJD Risk: 'right to know' plan

James Meikle, health correspondent

Guardian- Friday 19 January 2001


Patients could be given more right to know that they may have contracted the human form of BSE from contaminated blood transfusions or surgical instruments following a sustained rise in the number of victims of new varient Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease.

The current guidance says doctors should not generally inform patients because the uncertainty could blight their lives when there is no test, no cure, and no treatment for the inevitably fatal disease. But the ethical advice is now said to be "under active review" .

With 13 of the 88 cases of vCJD in this country now known to have been blood donors , fears are growing about the number of people who could have been contaminated. Directors of haemophilia centres are already offering advice and counselling to patients who used a clotting product dating from 1996-97 that has recently been found to have included donations from a vCJD victim .

The same batch was used in vaccines and blood products exported to nine other countries including Ireland. Karin Pappenheim, head of the Haemophilia Society, said last night: "We are trying desperately to reassure people. We have just had a father in tears (because his) daughter used this product."

Twenty-three people are known to have had transfusions with blood from implicated donors and blood products from those donors have gone into batches used in both vaccines and clotting factors used on thousands of people. Government scientists insist there is no evidence that anyone has yet caught vCJD in this way and that measures introduced in the last three years should have reduced the theoretical risk substantially.

Other changes are on the way with more disposable surgical intruments and even a possible ban on anyone who has ever received a blood transfusion becoming a donor . The blood service is anxious to ensure supplies, since shortages would put far more people at risk, but there is growing recognition that patients should have the right to decide whether they want to know about possible risks, rather than leaving the decision to doctors alone.

The NHS guidance was drawn up three years ago. It suggested that "the general view is that patients will not benefit from this knowledge" but left it open to doctors to decide. A special committee is now reviewing the advice.

Many haemophiliacs were told and help lines offering people the opportunity to find out have been set up in at least two hospitals where contaminated instruments were used.

There is a huge campaign to make England follow the example of Scotland, Wales and Ireland which gives all haemophiliacs synthetic clotting factors. Children under 16 in England get similar treatment but provision for others is patchy.

Campaigners are angry that the NHS is spending millions on changing hospital procedures to reduce vCJD risk while not being prepared to spend the extra money needed for synthetic clotting factors.

The Department of Health said last night that ministers were considering the matter.

Food standards chiefs last night revealed that remnants of spinal cord had been found in two consignments of beef imported from Germany, in breach of anti-BSE controls . They were discovered at meat processing plants in Newry, County Down.


18 Jan 01 - CJD - FDA Considers Mad Cow Precautions

Associated Press

Las Vegas Sun- Thursday 18 January 2001


WASHINGTON (AP) -- The government is considering whether to prohibit Americans who lived in France and certain other parts of Europe from donating blood, as a safeguard against Mad Cow disease.

No one knows if the human version of Mad Cow disease could be spread by blood, although some experiments with animals suggest it might.

As a precaution, the Food and Drug Administration in 1999 banned anyone who lived for at least six months in Britain since 1980 from donating blood. That was when an epidemic of Mad Cow disease struck British cattle, and eating infected beef has since been blamed for a new version of a human brain-destroyer, called "new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease," that has stricken more than 80 Britons.

But Mad Cow disease now is spreading through cattle in France, Germany and numerous other parts of Europe, and the new CJD has struck at least 3 people in France.

So the FDA is debating whether to expand its blood donor ban to anyone who lived for at least six months in any country hit by Mad Cow disease. The agency's scientific advisers on Mad Cow disease, known scientifically as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy or BSE, will vote on the question Thursday.

BSE has not been found in American cattle. While regular CJD, the kind not connected to infected beef, does strike Americans, federal health officials insist no Americans have been diagnosed with the new variant CJD.

The American Red Cross, which collects about half the nation's blood supply, is urging the expanded blood ban, even though it estimates that doing so could cut donations by 6 percent.

"There is enormous scientific uncertainty here.... It may turn out that this is not a risk," acknowledged Dr. Bernadine Healy, Red Cross president. But "it is only logical, once you have made the step with regard to the U.K. -- is it not reasonable to extend that to Western Europe?"

On the other side are blood banks that argue expanding the ban immediately would cut about 175,000 lifesaving blood donations at a time when worries about blood shortages are rising. Blood donations are dropping about 1 percent a year even as hospitals' demand for blood is rising by the same amount.

Officials from America's Blood Centers, which collect the other half of the nation's blood, will ask FDA "to balance the theoretical risks from Mad Cow disease against the real risk of not having enough blood for the 4.5 million patients who receive blood transfusions every year."


18 Jan 01 - CJD - FDA Makes Moves Against Mad Cow

By Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer

NorthJersey.com - Thursday 18 January 2001


WASHINGTON (AP) - Anyone who lived in France for a total of 10 years since 1980 should be banned from donating blood in the United States because of fears of Mad Cow disease, the government's scientific advisers decided Thursday.

But the Food and Drug Administration advisory panel stopped short of recommending a similar ban for all of Western Europe, which is experiencing a Mad Cow disease crisis.

However, people who lived for 10 years in Portugal or Ireland should be banned, because those countries may be at just as much risk of Mad Cow transmission as France, the committee decided by a narrow 8-7 vote.

The moves comes over a year after the FDA banned blood donations by any American who has spent just six months or more in Britain, where Mad Cow disease caused the world's worst cattle epidemic of the brain destroying disease known scientifically as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy or BSE.

In the mid-1990s Britons caught a human version of the brain disease from eating infected beef. Eating infected beef has since been blamed for a new version of a human brain-destroyer, called ``new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease,'' that has stricken more than 80 Britons.

No one knows if the human version of Mad Cow disease could be spread by blood, although some experiments with animals suggest it might.

BSE has not been found in American cattle. While regular CJD, the kind not connected to infected beef, does strike Americans, federal health officials insist no Americans have been diagnosed with the new variant CJD.

The American Red Cross urged the FDA panel to be even more strict, calling for a ban similar to the British ban of six month for residents in France. But the panel noted that so far only three people in France have come down with the new CJD and the numbers of infected cattle are much lower there, too. So the panel decided on these far longer time periods simply as a precaution.

It was unclear just how many Americans have spent that long in France and thus would be affected by the ban.

While BSE is spreading through cattle through all of Western Europe, the panel decided there wasn't enough risk for a blanket ban, saying a full European ban would hurt the U.S. blood supply far more than the theoretical risk of BSE.

But some panelists singled out Portugal and Ireland for special concern as cattle infections in Portugal are considered higher than other European countries and in Ireland one person has been diagnosed with new CJD.


18 Jan 01 - CJD - Mad Cow Frenzy Moves To Italy

Philip Pullella

News World - Thursday 18 January 2001


Italy became the latest European country caught up in Mad Cow frenzy on Wednesday as officials sought to calm consumers, cattle farmers went on a war footing and even Pope John Paul got into the act.

While Austria breathed a sigh of relief that it was mad-cow free after an initial scare, it was Italy's turn to ruminate on the political and economic implications of the first case of Mad Cow disease since 1994 and the first in an Italian-born cow.

A day after the confirmation that the test was positive, newspapers offered a menu of articles pointing out that the probability of getting hit by a meteorite was greater than dying from infected meat.

That brought little reassurance to consumers who abandoned beef sellers at city markets and queued to buy fish.

"No-one buys meat anymore so I have started selling fish," Sandro Belardinelli, a butcher-turned-fishmonger at a market in Rome's central Monti neighbourhood, told a radio station.

Health Minister Umberto Veronesi adopted the probabilities argument in an address to parliament.

"This case has alarmed us but we have to put it in context. We have less incidence of the disease than other European countries and meat today is much safer than it was 10 years ago," he said.

The minister, a cancer specialist, said it would not be possible to have a clear idea on how widespread the problem was until sample testing was carried out on 50,000 cows for BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy).

Many scientists believe that humans who catch new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), the human equivalent of BSE, do so as a result of eating BSE-infected beef.

More than 80 people in Britain and three in France have so far died of vCJD. "Our two main objectives are to eradicate the disease and to protect the health of Italian citizens," he said.

Even the Pope got into the act, telling pilgrims at his general audience that he felt spiritually close to "honest" cattle farmers whose livelihoods were affected by the crisis.

ITALY CATTLE FARMERS ON WAR FOOTING

Near Brescia, cattle farmers drove some 20 tractors to the gates of the farm where the infected cow lived and vowed to block officials from killing the rest of the herd - a move Veronesi said would be carried out.

The farmers say there is no need to destroy the entire herd of some 190 head owned by the Greci family before testing that would determine if they are infected or not.

"The newborn cows do not have BSE. It is absurd to kill them. Today we will ruin the Greci family and in the future we will ruin others," said Aldo Cipriano, head of the area's farmers union.

"We must not get too alarmist about this we must tell consumers that the meat that they eat...is guaranteed," he told Reuters Television.

AUSTRIA IN ISOLATION, MAD-COW FREE

While Italian butchers and cattle farmers were licking their wounds, their counterparts in Austria were breathing a big sigh of relief after tests on an animal suspected of having Mad Cow disease proved negative.

Thus the country's status as one of the few in Europe without a reported case was preserved.

Austria has long prided itself on its strict environmental laws and high veterinary standards, and fears that the brainwasting BSE disorder might have infected its livestock had rattled consumer confidence.

The scare proved a false alarm on Tuesday when a final test showed that an animal born and reared in Tyrol before being slaughtered in Germany was not suffering from BSE.

All tests in Austria have so far been negative, as they have been in Sweden and Finland.

Poland's veterinary agency had said it would widen its ban on beef imports to include those from Italy and Austria, bringing to 12 the number of European countries from where it forbids imports of beef of livestock.

A spokeswoman for the Polish agency said that if it received an official confirmation from the Austrian government it would be up to the chief veterinarian to lift the ban.

Additional reporting by Julia Ferguson in Vienna, Marta Karpinska in Warsaw, and Luke Baker in Rome.


18 Jan 01 - CJD - Mad Cow disease fears endanger Northeast Ohio's blood supplies

By Ebony Reed, Plain Dealer Reporter

Plain Dealer - Thursday 18 January 2001


Mad Cow disease fears endanger Northeast Ohio's blood supplies Worries about Mad Cow disease in Europe could decrease blood donations in Northeast Ohio and across the country.

Food and Drug Administration advisers are meeting today and tomorrow to consider banning blood donations from people who have lived in Europe. Deaths from Mad Cow disease are on the rise in Europe.

The proposed bans could decrease donations by 6 percent in Northeast Ohio and nationwide, said an official from the Northern Ohio Region of the American Red Cross.

"Many people travel out of the country," said Danielle L. Nowell, Red Cross communications specialist. "It could really affect us. The number of pints needed goes up each year, and the number of donors goes down. This could reduce our supply by 12,000 pints a year in Northeast Ohio."

Mad Cow disease's human form, the new-variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, has hit France, where two people have died, and the United Kingdom, where more than 80 have died over more than a decade. The human form of the disease can lie dormant for years before destroying brain tissue.

The FDA bans blood donations from those who lived in the United Kingdom for six months or more between 1980 and 1996. Now it is considering banning those who have been in the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe from 1980 until now.

How much of Europe and which countries are affected is not clear. How the disease is transmitted also is disputed, but tainted beef is suspected.

The Red Cross will ask the U.S. government today to ban donations from people who have lived in Western Europe. But it has not specified length of residency.

If the FDA rejects the bans, the organization may consider implementing its own safety nets, said Red Cross President Bernadine Healy.

"The Red Cross is first thinking of the safety of the blood supply," Nowell said. "If we need to get more first-time donors or people who have not donated in a while, we will."

But Roslyn Yomtovian, University Hospitals of Cleveland blood bank director, is not sure new donors are the answer.

"New donors are not as safe as old donors," she said. "It has been shown that new donors have higher chances of testing positive for something that will prevent them from donating."

Yomtovian also fears the FDA is moving too fast.

"I realize the FDA is still in the shadow of HIV, where they have been too slow," she said. "But no one knows how the agent of Mad Cow disease is transmitted to humans. I'm not criticizing the FDA. They want to make sure blood is pure. But you can't have your cake and eat it, too. To broad-brush ban certain things is usually not a good approach."

Last year, the Northern Ohio Region collected slightly more than 200,000 pints of blood. Tuesday, the Red Cross is hosting "Celebrate Life," its fourth annual blood drive at Executive Caterers on Landerhaven Rd. in Mayfield Heights.


18 Jan 01 - CJD - Countries rush to prevent Mad Cow disease

Staff Reporter

CBC- Thursday 18 January 2001


LONDON - The scare over Mad Cow disease has governments around the world scrambling to put up health and legislative barriers.

In Italy, authorities discover their first case of Mad Cow disease since 1994 - a cow in a slaughterhouse supplying McDonald's

Most recently, the American Red Cross has a proposal - to ban anyone who has visited Western Europe for six months or more, between 1980 and the present, from donating blood.

Mad Cow disease is rearing its head again all over Europe. Within two months, Germany found 10 more cases before the holiday period. Consumers stopped buying sausages.

Scientists blame meat-based feed

Germany's agriculture and health ministers quit over the matter, while Spanish opposition politicians are calling for the resignation of their farm minister. Both countries had been claiming they were BSE-free.

And in Italy, authorities discovered the first case of the disease since 1994 - a cow in a slaughterhouse supplying the McDonald's food chain .

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or BSE, attacks the central nervous system causing cattle to lose their co-ordination and balance.

The human form, CJD or Creutzfeld-Jacob Disease, has killed at least 80 people in Britain and two in France.

Scientists suspect the use of meat-based animal feed as the cause of BSE. They are not sure how it is passed on to humans.

Countries banning meat from Western Europe

Countries around the world have banned imports of British meat or meat from Western Europe.

Saudi Arabia has turned to Australia for its supplies of meat. Japan went as far as banning the import of sperm, fertilized eggs and internal organs of cattle from 17 European countries.

Canada bans on the import of beef from Britain and any cattle embryos and semen.

In the U.S. the Department of Agriculture regularly tests the brain of cattle and inspects animal feed to make sure none are meat-based.

"Our surveillance over time has found no evidence of having BSE in the country," declared Linda Detwiler, a senior veterinarian with the USDA.

But that may not be enough.

British scientists say no country with intensive farming is safe from BSE.

"This type of disease will arise wherever there is intensification," says Iain McGill, whoe worked at Britian's Farm Ministry during the Mad Cow crisis of the nineties.

He points to the U.S. where factory farming is rampant and so is intensive breeding, two major factors in the development of BSE.

There is, however, one country that may benefit - Argentina. The government there is now promoting its beef because its cattle is mostly raised on grass.

"Argentina is one of the (few) countries with the lowest risk of contagion," boasts Agriculture Secretary Antonio Berhongaray.


18 Jan 01 - CJD - French ministries are raided in BSE inquiry

Staff reporter

Independent- Thursday 18 January 2001


Police raided offices of the French government yesterday as part of an investigation into manslaughter charges linked to BSE..

The charges have been brought against officials by the families of victims of the fatal human equivalent of so-called Mad Cow disease, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD). Two people have died of vCJD in France and a third is suspected of suffering from the illness, which scientists have linked to eating contaminated beef.

Judicial sources said prosecutors, accompanied by the police, removed documents from the agriculture, health and finance ministries.

Prosecutors are investigating the official handling of the BSE crisis during the late 1980s and 1990s after families of victims filed manslaughter charges against "persons unknown" last month.

The Paris prosecutor's office said at the time it was considering bringing charges.

The families want formal charges brought against British and European officials for allowing Britain to export suspect animal feed - which scientists have linked to BSE - after banning it at home in 1989.

They also want charges brought against French officials for not taking action to stop it.


18 Jan 01 - CJD - banned Material Found In German beef Shipments To UK

Ananova

Guardian- Thursday 18 January 2001


Food inspectors have found banned spinal material in 41,000 kilos of German beef at two British processing plants.

The Food Agency says the meat, illegal under strict new European Union regulations, was stopped from entering the food chain by vets carrying out routine BSE checks.

The discovery follows checks at two plants in Newry, Northern Ireland.

Both consignments of the beef are known to have come from Germany.

Remnants of spinal cords were found in the consignments which contained 400 beef quarters, the agency said, adding it will all be destroyed.

Spinal cord is on the list of specified risk material which must be removed from cattle aged over 12 months immediately after slaughter.

New EU-wide SRM controls came into force throughout Europe on January 1 this year in a bid to prevent any chance of BSE-infected meat from entering the food chain.

The FSA says it believed the beef had been shipped to Britain, possibly Liverpool, in sealed containers before completing their journey by sea and road.

It stressed that the containers had not been opened at any point before they arrived at the plants.

Morris McAllister, director of the Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland, said: "This shows the importance of robust inspection systems in the UK.

"None of this meat will get anywhere near the human food chain thanks to decisive action by the Food Standards Agency and our colleagues in the Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture and Rural Development."


18 Jan 01 - CJD - beef seized in BSE checks

Staff Reporter

BBC- Thursday 18 January 2001


Thousands of kilos of beef destined for the food chain have been impounded by enforcement officers carrying out anti-BSE controls in Northern Ireland.

The Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland said the German beef had been seized at two abattoir cutting plants in Newry, County Down, after spinal cord was discovered in two consignments on Wednesday.

It is the first discovery of its kind in the UK. The affected material is likely to be destroyed.

Spinal cord is on the list of specified risk material, which, under EU law, must be removed from cattle aged over 12 months immediately after slaughter.

Importance of controls

The agency's director in Northern Ireland, Morris McAllister, said none of the meat would be allowed anywhere near the human food chain.

Mr McAllister also said it showed the importance of robust BSE controls.

The UK imports about 1,300 tonnes of beef carcasses from Germany.

Gary White, a director of the company which imported the meat, Eurostock Meat Marketing, said only a small portion of spinal cord was found during the search.

"From our point of view it was slightly unfortunate to think that it was not picked up in the member state from which it originated.

"Certainly if that had happened, we wouldn't have the current situation.

"It proves, however, that the controls we have in place in Northern Ireland are effective."

He added that the meat had never been intended for the market in Northern Ireland or elsewhere throughout the UK.

The discovery of banned spinal cord in 41 tonnes, although relatively small, is significant.

Earlier this week, ministers were accused of ignoring the risk posed to consumers from cheap foreign imports of older beef products made from cattle deemed to be at a higher risk of BSE.

It is understood that the consignment discovered in Newry was certified as under 30 months old.

Shadow agriculture minister Tim Yeo said he would be tabling parliamentary questions about how the German beef found its way into Britain.

He said: "It is a small relief that this consignment has been intercepted.

"But it does raise the question of how much of the beef that fails to meet the requirements set out in British controls is getting into the country."