Document Directory

30 Jan 01 - CJD - Mad Cow costs 'out of control'
30 Jan 01 - CJD - Haemophiliacs checked in vCJD scare
30 Jan 01 - CJD - EU facing BSE cost explosion
30 Jan 01 - CJD - Race to find patients at Risk of CJD
30 Jan 01 - CJD - How hospitals are battling vCJD
30 Jan 01 - CJD - EU faces cash crisis as BSE panic spreads
30 Jan 01 - CJD - British Blood Scare Sparks Mad Cow Fears
30 Jan 01 - CJD - NY Stores Selling Candy Recalled Over Mad Cow Fears
30 Jan 01 - CJD - Mad Cow Risk reaches "alarming" proportions in Europe
30 Jan 01 - CJD - Germany demands tougher action on BSE
30 Jan 01 - CJD - Experts uncertain over extent of vCJD Risk to haemophiliacs
30 Jan 01 - CJD - Germany flouts BSE rules again
30 Jan 01 - CJD - Mad Cow Disease-Affected Product Imports banned
30 Jan 01 - CJD - Farmers, Firms Pledge Vigilance on Mad Cow
30 Jan 01 - CJD - Finland to ban blood donors from Britain
30 Jan 01 - CJD - Alert over patients exposed to vCJD Risk
30 Jan 01 - CJD - EU may provide aid to fight Mad Cow disease
29 Jan 01 - CJD - More German beef imports 'unsafe'
29 Jan 01 - CJD - EU faces massive beef surplus
29 Jan 01 - CJD - Ministry Announces Measures Against Mad Cow Disease
29 Jan 01 - CJD - Australia Set to Join Battle Against 'Mad Cow' Disease
29 Jan 01 - CJD - No Sign So Far U.S. Herd Exposed to Mad Cow Disease
29 Jan 01 - CJD - Spinal cord 'found in German beef imports'
29 Jan 01 - CJD - Europe's incinerators can barely cope with the scale of the slaughter
29 Jan 01 - CJD - EU faces cash crisis as BSE panic spreads
29 Jan 01 - CJD - French discover new test to screen for BSE
28 Jan 01 - CJD - Zoos raided as German food scares grow
28 Jan 01 - CJD - Britain put 69 countries at Risk of BSE



30 Jan 01 - CJD - Mad Cow costs 'out of control'

By Ambrose, Evans-Pritchard in Brussels

Telegraph- Tuesday 30 January 2001


The Mad Cow crisis is bankrupting the European Union's farm budget and setting off a populist backlash against the Common Agricultural Policy, EU ministers were told yesterday.

Franz Fischler, the agriculture commissioner, said BSE costs were spiralling out of control as fresh cases of the disease caused consumer panic. He said: "The crisis on the beef market goes further than one might think. The latest market indications are alarming."

beef sales have fallen 27 per cent across the EU since the scare erupted in November. In Germany, sales have fallen 50 per cent, automatically triggering a compensation scheme for farmers that is funded by EU taxpayers.

The warning came as EU member states struggled to cope with the huge logistical challenge of killing two million cattle and converting cement factories to destroy mountains of animal feed to comply with the latest emergency measures.

Mr Fischler said current BSE measures would cost an extra £2 billion this year, running to billions more if the rest of the world decides to ban EU beef products. But the greater issue was the collapsing credibility of Europe's agro-industrial system, and with it the EU's policy of funnelling billions of pounds in subsidies to mass-production plants that harm the environment.

He said: "The repercussions of the BSE crisis go far beyond the loss of consumer confidence and severe market disruption. It has, for the first time, awakened the feeling in society at large that we must stop these practices, we must stop ruminants being fed on animal proteins, or milk being adulterated as in Italy, or feeding stuffs being contaminated with dioxins as in Belgium. Obviously, these are all instances of abuse, but it is the Common Agricultural Policy itself that is being called into question."

The commission is deeply hostile to the CAP, which consumes 45 per cent of the total EU budget and brings Brussels into disrepute. But a reform effort in 1999 was blocked by France and Spain with the reluctant acquiescence of Germany.

The political landscape has changed beyond recognition. The Franco-German partnership is under strain after the Nice summit, and the new German Agriculture Minister, Renate Kunast, is a Green party politician with carte blanche from Chancellor Schröder to confront the agro-industrial lobby.

A consignment of German beef sent to Britain for processing has been found to contain remnants of spinal cord, the part considered most likely to be responsible for the spread of BSE. Two inches of cord was found by a vet in one of 216 carcasses from an abattoir in Oldenburg which had arrived at a cutting plant in Eastbourne, Sussex.

The carcass will be destroyed and the rest of the meat will be released for processing. The discovery has brought a warning from the Food Standards Agency that Germany could face "further action" if any more of its beef exports are found not to meet "required standards". Under EU law introduced last October all traces of spinal cord must be removed from cattle more than 12 months old when slaughtered.


30 Jan 01 - CJD - Haemophiliacs checked in vCJD scare

By Thomas Penny

Telegraph- Tuesday 30 January 2001


Doctors are making a list of haemophiliacs who received blood products from a donor who later died of the human form of Mad Cow disease .

Staff at haemophilia centres were given details of batch numbers last month and are checking records to find which of their patients received the clotting agent. Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, a junior health minister, said it was not known how many patients could have been affected.

The blood was donated in the mid 1990s and processed before 1998, when the Government ordered that products should not be made from British plasma because of the possible risk of transmitting variant CJD.

Bio Products Laboratory, which turns plasma into clotting factors, wrote to haemophilia centres last month, saying that while there was no evidence that vCJD had been transmitted by blood products, there was a "theoretical risk".

Lord Hunt said: "Haemophilia centre directors were notified in December 2000 of the batch numbers of the clotting factor and are in the process of identifying the recipients from their records."


30 Jan 01 - CJD - EU facing BSE cost explosion

Staff Reporter

BBC- Tuesday 30 January 2001


Europe faces a mountain of unwanted beef

European Union Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler has warned that the growing crisis over BSE, or Mad Cow disease, is threatening to stretch the EU's farm budget to breaking point.

Speaking to EU agriculture ministers in Brussels on Monday, Mr Fischler said the state of Europe's beef market was alarming, and much worse than previously forecast.

Sales of beef inside the union, he said, were down 27% and falling. Bans on EU beef imports by many countries outside the union threatened a market surplus of up to a million tonnes with no outlet.

"We really are at the very limit, if not beyond, in terms of what we can fund with the EU budget," he said.

"With all the will in the world, and fully recognising the dire straits farmers are in at the moment, we have zero room for manoeuvre."

Gloom

The EU Commission, had hoped beef sales would drop by no more than 10% over a full year, but Mr Fischler said it now realised that sales were unlikely to rise in the near future.

He told his colleagues that continuing to provide farmers with a guaranteed beef price in a depressed market could cost at least 3 billion euros ($2.8bn), triple what was forecast in the current EU budget.

Mr Fischler urged member states to take advantage of the so-called purchase-for-destruction scheme whereby farmers are paid to destroy older cattle.

The alternative, he said, was to put unwanted beef into publicly-funded cold storage at massive cost.

"If we do this, farm expenditures would simply explode, which would lead to cuts in other agriculture sectors."

Safety tightened

Nowhere is the current panic over potentially infected beef being felt more keenly than in Germany.

Sales there have dropped by half, and the government has lowered the age for testing cattle for BSE to 24 months after a younger cow tested positive.

Some ministers at Monday's meeting - which was called to discuss ways both to curb the over production and to counter consumer panic - suggested the rest of the EU should follow suit.

But a majority agreed that keeping the test age at 30 months was still sufficient - even though some cases of BSE have been found in younger animals.

Agreement was reached, however, on toughening other safety measures, including bans on mechanically-recovered beef and meat adjacent to the spinal column.


30 Jan 01 - CJD - Race to find patients at Risk of CJD

By David Charter, Health Correspondent

Times- Tuesday 30 January 2001


The Government was trying last night to trace scores of haemophiliacs at risk from catching the human form of "Mad Cow" disease after admitting that NHS patients were treated with blood products from a man who died of vCJD .

Ministers immediately announced counselling arrangements for patients and their families who will face an agonising wait to learn if they received the infected treatment.

The admission last night by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, the junior Health Minister, will alarm Britain's 10,000 haemophiliacs. The incident echoes the 1980s blood contamination scandals when 4,800 haemophiliacs contracted hepatitis C and 1,200 caught HIV.

The disclosure came as one of the Government's advisers on vCJD accused ministers of "seriously misleading" the public over the safety of hospital treatment. Michael Banner, the chairman of a group of experts set up to control vCJD, considered quitting the CJD Incidents Panel over his concerns about surgery.

In a letter to Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer, he accused the Government of not taking the panel seriously. Civil Service support of the panel was a "shambles", he said. He did not know from one day to the next which official he would be dealing with because none was assigned to the panel. His letter landed on Professor Donaldson's desk as Parliament heard that scientists were combing hospital records to find how many haemophiliacs were given a clotting agent made from a blood donor in 1996 or 1997 who later learnt that he had vCJD.

The Government banned the use of British plasma in the manufacture of blood products in 1998 as a precautionary measure against the risk that vCJD can be transmitted in this way. Lord Morris of Manchester, the Labour peer who is honorary president of the Haemophilia Society, said: "This has come as a devastating shock to the haemophiliac community who have already been stricken by HIV and hepatitis C infection in the course of NHS treatment."

He added: "I will be discussing the minister's reply very urgently with the Haemophilia Society. No one seems to know how many people may be affected but the society is doing all it can to counsel families that have cause to believe they were affected. The implications are very serious."

Lord Hunt admitted that it was too early to tell how many haemophiliacs might have been affected but sought to play down the risks. He said: "We would stress that any risk of transmission of vCJD through blood products is theoretical. There have been no reported cases of vCJD among the haemophilia community."

Professor Banner, of King's College London, criticised just such reassurances as "seriously misleading" in his letter, saying the incubation period was too long to be at all certain.

He took issue with a statement from John Denham, the Health Minister, who 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 vCJD we should take precautions to reduce the theoretical risk of transmission."

Professor Banner said that "simply overlooked" the fact that the vCJD incubation period could be 20 years and was therefore "not as reassuring as it may seem".

Earlier this month ministers announced £200 million to improve hospital sterilisation, including £25 million for disposable instruments for all tonsillectomies. Professor Banner implied that all high-risk operations should be performed with disposable instruments.

He said: "While no one within the Department of Health would intend to mislead the public, it is a matter of great concern if the public is misled, even as a result of lack of care in setting out the current state of knowledge in a clear and frank form." In the letter he added: "The course of events up to this point may suggest to the public that the Department of Health is not taking seriously the very important issues of public health which are the concern of the panel."


30 Jan 01 - CJD - How hospitals are battling vCJD

By David Charter, Health Correspondent

Times- Tuesday 30 January 2001


Professor Michael Banner, chairman of the CJD panel, has attacked Government spin over the safety of surgery

How are hospital instruments sterilised?

They are washed and heat-treated at 121C for 15 minutes

Why is there special concern over vCJD infection from surgical instruments?

Although there is no proof that any cases of vCJD have been caused by contaminated instruments, the prion which causes vCJD cannot be destroyed by the standard sterilisation method nor the super-heated technique of 134C for three minutes

Is it only hospital instruments which are affected?

Dentists were also advised in August last year to make sure they carefully washed and sterilised all instruments over vCJD fears

What is the point of washing and sterilising instruments if the prion cannot be destroyed by high temperatures?

Government advisers say the prion can be washed off by careful washing before heat treatment

How can complete safety from the vCJD prion be guaranteed?

The only failsafe way of eliminating the prion is by destroying the surgical instruments

Why don't all operations take place with disposable instruments?

Most surgery does not affect areas of the body thought to harbour the infectious prion. Higher-risk areas, such as brain surgery, require specialist equipment which would be costly to replace after every operation

What is the Government doing?

Earlier this month, the Department of Health announced £200 million to modernise decontamination facilities at England's hospitals over the next two years. It also ordered that all tonsillectomies should be carried out with disposable instruments

Why use disposable equipment only for tonsils?

tonsils are thought to harbour the prion and the move is being used as a test-case by ministers to monitor the practical demands of supplying and using disposable equipment

Are any other operations carried out with disposable instruments?

All lumbar punctures are and several other operations are under consideration, including those on the appendix, brain, nervous system, back of the eye and inner ear


30 Jan 01 - CJD - EU faces cash crisis as BSE panic spreads

By Stephen Castle in Brussels

Independent- Tuesday 30 January 2001


The cost of supporting farmers could "explode" because of consumer panic over the spread of BSE across Europe, Brussels said yesterday.

The EU is legally obliged to buy unsold beef, and demand is already down by half in Germany and more than a quarter on average across the 15-nation union, new statistics show.

The meltdown in the beef market could plunge the Common Agricultural Policy, which accounts for a third of all EU spending, into crisis.

Although the consumer panic has been worst in Germany, demand has plunged by almost as much in Greece, Italy and Spain, which have seen reductions of 40 per cent. Sales have slumped by 30 per cent in Austria and Luxembourg, by a quarter in France and a fifth in Belgium. The European Commission said the new figures were "much more alarming" than earlier projections. Franz Fischler, the agriculture commissioner, warned that the position could become unmanageable.

Even more alarmingly, the latest estimates are based on an assumption that demand for beef will slump by only 10 per cent on average this year and that exports to the rest of the world will remain constant.

But Mr Fischler told agriculture ministers that, overall, beef consumption across the EU is down 27 per cent, with prices paid to farmers plummeting too, in some cases down by 36 per cent on last year.

Although some people hope consumer confidence will recover, the 10 per cent figure looks optimistic and, the report notes, "many third countries are banning EU beef".

Europe has insufficient cold-storage space for the growing stockpile of unsold beef, and cannot afford to continue taking surplus beef off the market as it normally does. If it tried, Mr Fischler said, "farm expenditure would simply explode".

Instead, the EU is urging countries to use a special slaughter scheme, 70 per cent funded by Brussels. It would see the destruction of 57,000 cattle, but only four countries have signed up so far.


30 Jan 01 - CJD - British Blood Scare Sparks Mad Cow Fears

By Patricia Reaney

YAHOO- Tuesday 30 January 2001




LONDON (Reuters) - New fears about the extent of the human form of Mad Cow disease emerged on Tuesday as British health officials scrambled to contact haemophiliacs who may have received blood products from an infected donor.

Although Britain banned the use of British plasma in blood products in 1998, a health minister has acknowledged that haemophiliacs may have been given a clotting agent made from the blood of the man who later died of new variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease (vCJD).

The news sent shock waves through Britain and sparked renewed concern in Europe and beyond as the number of cases of Mad Cow disease, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), mounted.

``The haemophilia community is now waiting anxiously to discover whether they may have been exposed to the product or whether they have had a different batch,'' Karin Pappenheim, chief executive of the Haemophilia Society, said in a statement.

``Whilst the risk of contracting vCJD in this way is purely theoretical and no person with haemophilia has been shown to have contracted vCJD through blood-based clotting factors, it is a risk that we would obviously want to avoid,'' she added.

No Cure, No Treatment

So far more than 80 people in Britain and two in France have died from vCJD, which was first identified in 1996 and has been linked with eating meat from BSE-infected cattle.

The United States and other countries have barred blood donations from people who have lived in Britain for six months or more from 1980 to 1996 as a precautionary measure against the spread of vCJD, which is incurable.

The Department of Health stressed that there is no evidence that vCJD has been transmitted through blood or blood products but it was little compensation for the country's 10,000 haemophiliacs. No one is sure how many people may be affected.

But scientists at the Institute of Animal Health in Scotland, who infected a sheep with Mad Cow disease through a blood transfusion from another infected sheep which had no symptoms, said their research shows it is possible.

``Our policy is that patients who have received blood products and are concerned about the situation should approach their doctor who will tell them if those products came from affected batches,'' a Health Department spokesman said.

Public Seriously Misled

As the government was reeling from the revelation, one of its vCJD advisers described its handling of the disease as a shambles.

Professor Michael Banner, of King's College in London, and a member of an expert panel on vCJD, said the government was seriously misleading the public about the risk of vCJD because the incubation could be as long as 20 years.

He was particularly concerned about the risk of contracting the disease through surgery and suggested operations should be performed with disposable instruments.

Sterilising surgical instruments could actually spread the disease because increased temperatures make it harder to destroy the rogue prion brain proteins that are the infectious agents.

Growing fears about the scale of Mad Cow disease have sparked a consumer crisis that European Union ministers warned on Monday could break its farm budget.

Last week the United Nations warned that countries in eastern Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and India had a high risk of harbouring BSE.

The disease was first identified in 1986 and is believe to have been spread by feeding carcasses of sheep that died of a related brain disease to cattle. Some researchers believe it could have occurred spontaneously.


30 Jan 01 - CJD - NY Stores Selling Candy Recalled Over Mad Cow Fears

Reuters

NorthJersey.com- Tuesday 30 January 2001


NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stores in New York were selling a German-made fruit candy recalled in Poland eight days ago amid fears it contained a beef-based gelatin from cattle infected with brain-wasting Mad Cow disease, the Daily News reported Tuesday.

The newspaper quoted city health authorities as saying they would investigate whether the candy was dangerous. The report also quoted a representative for the manufacturer as saying the sweet called Mamba was safe.

Mamba is made by the Storck Co. of Werther, Germany and marketed in 80 countries, the Daily News said. It contains a beef-based gelatin, prompting Polish health authorities to recall the fruit candy Jan. 22 in a general ban on beef products from countries that have had outbreaks of Mad Cow disease.

More than 80 people in Britain and two in France have died from new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, sparking a massive consumer backlash against beef. There is no known cure for the disease, which is linked by scientists to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), the disease which has affected British cattle since the 1980s.

``The German health authority has certified that all the gelatin we use has been properly prepared for human consumption,'' Tony Nelson, a vice president at Storck U.S.A. in Chicago was quoted as saying by the Daily News.

A New York City Health Department spokeswoman told the Daily News: ``Obviously, we will look into it. People should not panic. We have not had animal or human cases of Mad Cow disease in New York or in the United States.''

BSE was first identified in 1986, but scientists are divided on the cause of the disease and its route to humans.

U.S. government officials and the farm industry met in Washington Monday to discuss whether defenses needed to be bolstered against the brain-wasting sickness. Farm groups said they felt confident U.S. regulations were strong enough and promised not to break the rules by feeding their cattle on livestock remains, which have been identified as the probable cause of the disease in cattle.


30 Jan 01 - CJD - Mad Cow Risk reaches "alarming" proportions in Europe

Staff Reporter

CBC- Tuesday 30 January 2001


BRUSSELS - While the potential human cost of Mad Cow disease is well known, the European Union's top agricultural minister said on Monday the crisis has reached proportions that threaten the farming sector across the union.

With demand for beef falling 27 per cent across the continent since October, stockpiles of beef are growing into mountains. And all that surplus meat is being stored. The bill for storage could come to $6 billion.

T-bone steak is banned

The European Commission has asked farmers to sell all their animals older than 30 months for immediate destruction. It had already ordered tests for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy on all animals older than 30 months and banned feed made with animal parts.

The purchase-for-destruction scheme could cost $4 billion this year alone as up to two million cattle might be destroyed.

"The crisis on the beef market goes further than one might think. The latest market indications are alarming," EU Farm Commissioner Franz Fischler told the meeting of farm ministers in Brussels.

"Within the budget, we have no room for manoeuvre."

The continent has been in the grip of fears over the disease and its devastating human variant since last fall, when contaminated meat was accidentally sold in a French supermarket.

About 80 people have died in Britain of new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Another two have died in France.

After seeing the devastating effects of the brain-wasting disorder - and after cows were diagnosed with Mad Cow disease in several continental countries - people stopped buying beef.

The ministers have also agreed to ban cuts of meat that contain parts of the spine, including T-bone and rib-eye steaks - over the objections of Spain and Italy.

The economic effects of the measures could be felt for years to come. They will likely force the EU to go far beyond its planned agricultural budget.

And they may cause the European agriculture sector to rethink its practices of intensive industrial farming.

Meetings were also held in Washington, London and Berlin on Monday, as governments around the world try to find new strategies to deal with rising consumer fears and a collapsing beef market.


30 Jan 01 - CJD - Germany demands tougher action on BSE

From David Lister In Brussels

Times- Tuesday 30 January 2001


GERMANY yesterday called for tougher measures on BSE as the European Commission said that the situation was spiralling out of control.

Renate Künast, Germany's new consumer protection and farm minister, urged a meeting of her European Union counterparts to consider extending testing for BSE in cows to include younger cattle.

Her call came after the discovery of BSE in a cow aged 28 months in Germany last week, prompting Berlin to reduce its testing age from 30 months to 24 months. Until then it had been assumed that beef from animals up to 30 months old did not need to be tested.

Spain and Italy backed the German initiative but Britain argued there was no scientific evidence to suggest that BSE was a problem in younger cattle or to challenge the established view that the average incubation period for the disease was at least four years. Britain has tested animals over 30 months since 1996; the same measure was introduced across the EU from January 1.

David Byrne, the EU's consumer protection commissioner, said: "The feeling was that the 30 months limit should remain in place and that is the position at the moment with regard to testing."

EU ministers yesterday agreed to remove the vertebral column from consumption. Officials said, however, that Britain would be excluded from any new ban because of controls in place since 1996.


30 Jan 01 - CJD - Experts uncertain over extent of vCJD Risk to haemophiliacs

Staff Reporter

Independent- Tuesday 30 January 2001


Health experts are unsure of how many haemophiliacs could be at risk after it emerged they may have been exposed to treatments infected by the human form of Mad Cow disease, it was claimed today.

The Government was treating the issue as a matter of urgency according to the honorary president of the Haemophilia Society, Lord Morris of Manchester.

Haemophiliacs who fear they have been exposed to plasma derived from a blood donor later found to have vCJD, the human form of Mad Cow disease, have been urged to contact their doctors.

Counselling arrangements were announced by ministers for patients and their families while efforts are made to establish whether they received the vCJD-infected treatment.

A Department of Health spokesman stressed that the department itself was not involved in trying to trace those who might have been affected. Instead the laboratory which produced the batch of blood products is informing doctors of the batch numbers in question so that they can trace patients.

The spokesman also stressed that there is no evidence that vCJD can be transmitted through blood products.

In 1998 the Government took the step of ceasing to use UK plasma in the manufacture of blood products as a precautionary measure against the theoretical risk that vCJD may be transmitted in this way.


30 Jan 01 - CJD - Germany flouts BSE rules again

James Meikle, Andrew Osborn in Brussels, and Kate Connolly in Berlin

Guardian- Tuesday 30 January 2001


Britain was last night involved in a row with Germany over the effectiveness of Berlin's anti-BSE measures following the discovery of a consignment of imported beef breaching EU safety rules, the third within a fortnight .

Two inches of spinal column, potentially one of the most infected parts of a cow not displaying obvious signs of the disease, were found in a quarter of beef at a cutting plant in Eastbourne, Sussex.

Every carcass imported from Germany will now be checked by British officials before being allowed into the food chain. Sir John Krebs, chairman of the food standards agency, said the further breach "is totally unacceptable and raises questions as to how effectively the EU-wide controls are being enforced".

The agency has already asked the commission to read the riot act to Germany and any further discoveries could signal pressure for a ban on German imports.

Last year they totalled more than 4,000 tonnes, a third in carcass form, but there are growing suspicions that German producers are trying to dump surplus stocks. Con sumption in Germany may have dropped by as much as 50% in recent months.

The latest discovery, among 216 quarters of beef originating from Oldenburg, in Lower Saxony, follows the seizure of two consignments totalling 40 tonnes at Newry, County Down, on January 17 after remnants of spinal cord were found in two beef quarters originating from different German states.

German officials, told by the Guardian of the latest breach, said they had already pleaded with the states to be more careful. A spokeswoman for the federal ministry for consumer protection, nutrition and agriculture, said: "There is, as far as we are concerned , nothing wrong with the safety regulations we set for the meat itself.

"The problem is that one cannot check how each animal is examined before being loaded." The spokeswoman added that central government might have to take more control of meat inspection.

The consequences of the mounting crisis were spelled out by the EU agriculture commisssioner, Franz Fischler, to a meeting of farm ministers in Brussels yesterday. He warned the commission could not afford to support farmers by buying up the excess stocks expected from a 10% fall in con sumption across the EU this year, on top of an overall 27% plunge during recent months. Bans on imports by non-EU countries meant there were fewer outlets abroad and the decline in consumption may yet be far greater, despite an actual 3% rise in consumption in Britain where consumers are used to the BSE fears.

Instead all EU governments should make use of the cheaper six-month programme, introduced in earlier this month, to help farmers destroy older cattle. "It disposes of the lowest quality beef at the lowest price," said Mr Fischler. "The situation is more dramatic than we could have estimated before Christmas."

The programme has been organised following the EU's order that all animals over 30 months must be tested for BSE before they can be allowed as food. Germans have been reluctant to use the scheme, and have been given dispensation to reduce their testing age to 24 months, following the discovery of a 28-month old infected cow.

Britain has banned all beef from animals over 30 months old for nearly four years and has been reluctant to use any tests on younger animals since it says there are doubts about their ability to identify all cases of BSE before it is obvious.


30 Jan 01 - CJD - Mad Cow Disease-Affected Product Imports banned

By Shim Jae-yun, Staff Reporter

Korea Times- Tuesday 30 January 2001


The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has decided to ban imports of beef related by-products from European nations where the mad-cow disease broke out .

``The imports of beef, lamb and related by-products and feed would be prohibited,'' said a ministry official.

The ministry noted the domestic livestock industry has remained safe from the disease.

``We have conducted intensive checks on domestic cattle and found no infectious cases so far,'' said the official.

The nation has previously banned the imports of beef and by-products from nations like Britain, the Netherlands, Ireland and Denmark.

The ministry's decision came amid horrifying outbreaks of bovine

spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as mad-cow disease, in Europe.

Recently, the United States has begun to panic as correlations between mad- cow disease and the so-called vCJD which affects the human body have begun to emerge as a hot issue.


30 Jan 01 - CJD - Farmers, Firms Pledge Vigilance on Mad Cow

Reuters

Newsday.com- Tuesday 30 January 2001


Washington-Farm groups said yesterday they felt confident U.S. regulations were a strong enough defense against Mad Cow disease, and they promised not to break the rules against feeding livestock remains to their cattle. The pledge came after representatives from cattle and feed groups met with government officials in Washington to discuss whether the United States needs to bolster its defenses against the brain-wasting illness.

In Europe more than 80 people have died of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human form of the disease. The key to keeping Mad Cow out of the United States is making sure all feed makers and farmers follow rules designed to stop the disease from spreading if it is detected in U.S. cattle, said Gary Weber, executive director of regulatory affairs at the National Cattlemen's beef Association.

"We want 100 percent compliance," he said. Industry groups planned efforts to raise members' awareness of federal requirements, he added.

The meeting, which was scheduled last November, was held as the Food and Drug Administration kept 1,200 cattle at a Texas feed lot in quarantine, fearing exposure to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE)-better known as Mad Cow disease. The agency was checking whether feed eaten by the animals contained meat-and-bone meal made from other ruminant animals.

Since 1997, the FDA has banned such feed from going to cattle because scientists believe the disease spreads when cows eat the remains of infected animals. Many scientists believe that humans can catch the disease after eating BSE-infected beef.

The U.S. government asserts that "no cases of BSE have been confirmed in the U.S.A. despite 10 years of active surveillance." Food safety advocates said the Texas quarantine has exposed loopholes in U.S. efforts to prevent Mad Cow disease.


30 Jan 01 - CJD - Finland to ban blood donors from Britain

Ananova

PA News- Tuesday 30 January 2001


Finland is to ban blood donations from people who lived in Britain from 1980 to 1996 to reduce the risk of spreading CJD.

The restriction will apply to people who have lived in the British Isles for more than six months during that period.

The ban come into force on April 1 and will apply to less than 1% of all donations in Finland, says the Red Cross.

Nine other countries have banned blood donations from people who have lived in Britain, says Juhani Leikola of the Red Cross.


30 Jan 01 - CJD - Alert over patients exposed to vCJD Risk

Ananova

PA News- Tuesday 30 January 2001


Health officials are searching for haemophiliacs who may have been exposed to plasma from a blood donor infected with vCJD .

Anyone found to have received the infected treatment will be offered counselling for themselves and their families.

In 1998, the Government stop using UK plasma in the manufacture of blood products.

The Haemophilia Society has told its members that this donated plasma would have been used in 1996 and 1997.

As part of the 1998 crackdown, the company involved in sourcing plasma, Bio Products Laboratory, was told to obtain its supplies from the US and the UK.

The Haemophilia Society added: "We do not know exactly how many people with haemophilia may be affected by this but the company have stated that this particular donor's plasma has gone into a tiny percentage of the products distributed before 1998.

"First and foremost, we would stress that any risk of transmission of vCJD through blood products is theoretical. There have been no reported cases of vCJD among the haemophilia community."

Junior health minister Lord Hunt of Kings Heath commented: "No information is held centrally on the number of patients with haemophilia who received clotting factor made from plasma donated by the individual who later developed vCJD.

"Haemophilia Centre Directors were notified in December 2000 of the batch numbers of the clotting factor and are in the process of identifying the recipients from their patient records.

"The UK Haemophilia Doctors Association, in consultation with the Department of Health, has agreed a policy of giving all haemophilia patients information about the incident and offering them a choice to know if they or their children received the implicated clotting factor."


30 Jan 01 - CJD - EU may provide aid to fight Mad Cow disease

Staff Reporter

News Asia- Tuesday 30 January 2001


Financial aid for fighting Mad Cow disease may be on the way for EU governments and farmers.

On Monday, EU agricultural ministers met in Brussels to discuss a proposed aid package as the cost of curbing BSE threatens to escalate.

EU Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler has warned the crisis on the beef market could spiral out of control.

Mr Fischler says EU beef consumption has dropped by an average of 27 percent and many non-EU countries are banning European beef.

The EU Commission had hoped beef sales would drop by no more than 10 percent.

And the EU, Mr Fischler adds, simply does not have enough warehouses to store the unwanted beef.

Mr Fischler warns that moves to boost beef prices could cost at least 3 billion euros or US$2.8 billion.

This is three times the amount that was foreseen in the current EU budget.

European Union agriculture ministers are meeting to discuss new ways to contain the Mad Cow crisis.

They are debating whether or not to include more health measures to protect consumers and more financial aid for cattle farmers.

The EU is considering extending a mandatory testing program for cattle older than 30 months to include younger animals, as BSE was discovered in a 28-month-old cow in Germany.


29 Jan 01 - CJD - More German beef imports 'unsafe'

Staff reporter

Times- Monday 29 January 2001


Meat inspectors today found the remnants of spinal cord in a consignment of beef imported from Germany , the second such discovery within two weeks, the Food Standards Agency said.

Checks of beef from Germany will be stepped up after the discovery at a meat cutting plant at Eastbourne, a spokesman said.

Spinal cord is on the list of specified risk material (SRM) which, under EU law, must be removed from cattle aged over 12 months and destroyed because of the risk of BSE.

The spokesman said the discovery was made in a consignment of 19,000kg of German beef. The affected meat will be destroyed.

The seizure follows a similar find in Northern Ireland in 40,000 kilos of beef imported from Germany on January 18.

Sir John Krebs, the agency chairman, said the second breach of food standards within two weeks from imported meat from Germany was totally unacceptable.

"It raises questions as to how effectively the EU-wide controls are being enforced. At the request of the FSA, the European Commission are already raising with the German authorities the need for them to fully comply with the SRM controls".

He said the agency would continue to monitor German imports and if they did not meet the required standard it would take action.


29 Jan 01 - CJD - EU faces massive beef surplus

Staff Reporter

Times- Monday 29 January 2001


The consequences of the crisis over "Mad Cow" disease are far worse than originally thought, the European Commission said today.

The EU is facing a new surplus of beef as consumers continue to reject meat amid fears that BSE is still not under control.

Now the Commission is warning that it cannot afford to support farmers by buying up surplus beef, and it lacks the storage capacity to do so.

The warning came from Frans Fischler, the EU Agriculture Commissioner, at talks between EU farm ministers in Brussels.

"The crisis on the beef market goes further than one might think," he told ministers including Nick Brown, the British Agriculture Secretary. "The latest market indications are alarming."

Mr Fischler said the EU expected a further fall in consumption of 10 per cent this year, on top of a 27 per cent drop in EU beef consumption during the BSE crisis so far.

The Commission estimated that 10,000 tonnes of EU beef surplus last year is likely to rise by 785,000 tonnes to 795,000 tonnes this year and rise again to 1.2 million tonnes in 2003.

The ministers were meeting to assess new fears over the spread of BSE following a new case in Germany last week in a cow aged 28 months, less than the current 30-month age limit above which all cattle are tested.

No change in the age limit was expected today, but Mr Fischler's warning confirmed that Brussels is now dealing not just with continued loss of consumer confidence in beef but a major problem over future production .


29 Jan 01 - CJD - Ministry Announces Measures Against Mad Cow Disease

Staff Reporter

Chosen (Korea) - Monday 29 January 2001


The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry announced Monday that it was preparing a mid to long term plan to prevent the introduction of cattle infected with bovine spongiform encephalitis, the so called "Mad Cow disease."

The announcement comes in the wake of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization warning that the disease could spread worldwide if specific countermeasures weren't taken. The FAO specifically warned countries that have imported cattle, meat or bonemeal from Europe and especially Britain since 1980. The disease is currently ravaging herds in Europe and one in Texas has recently been quarantined .

Meat from cattle with BSE is thought to be responsible for triggering a similar fatal disease in humans, namely Creutzfeldt Jacob disease, though causal links have yet to be established.

MOAF's Soh Kyu-ryong said that the feeding of cattle and sheep with bonemeal mixtures is to be strictly banned, currently this is imported from the US to be fed to dogs and chicken. Anybody violating the ban could face up to three years in prison and a W15 million fine.

Currently the ministry has banned the import of beef, lamb, mutton and bonemeal from 30 European countries, but allowed imports from the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand where no outbreaks of Mad Cow disease have been reported.


29 Jan 01 - CJD - Australia Set to Join Battle Against 'Mad Cow' Disease

Associated Press

Wall Street Journal- Monday 29 January 2001


CANBERRA, Australia -- Experts are to start work on measures to ensure that Australia's huge beef industry is never infected by "mad-cow" disease .

A special committee of Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council was set to meet Tuesday to map out a strategy to protect the nation's beef industry from Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or BSE, commonly known as mad-cow disease.

The Australian government banned the import of any European beef products in January after it was confirmed that the disease had spread to more European herds than previously feared.

The committee, made up of experts in food safety, communicable disease, quarantine, agricultural science and consumer interests, will meet in the southern city of Melbourne to discuss further measures the government can take to protect the beef industry and consumers.

The committee is expected to discuss calls by the Australian cattle industry for tougher laws to prevent the feeding to cattle of meal derived from animals, such as pigs, horses and kangaroos.

Feeds containing animal derived meal have been blamed for the spread of mad-cow disease in Europe.

Eating meat from cattle suffering from mad-cow disease has been linked with new variant Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease, a fatal brain-wasting disease among humans.

Australia, which is the world's largest beef exporter, sold a record 900,000 metric tons (990,000 tons) of beef in 2000, according to official government figures.


29 Jan 01 - CJD - No Sign So Far U.S. Herd Exposed to Mad Cow Disease



NorthJersey.com- Monday 29 January 2001


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. regulators have found no evidence so far that quarantined Texas cattle who may have eaten prohibited animal feed were exposed to Mad Cow disease, said a senior Food and Drug Administration (FDA) official on Monday.

Murray Lumpkin, senior medical adviser in the FDA commissioner's office, said tests of the feed the cows ate should be finished in the next few days.

``There is no evidence at this point in time that the cows have been exposed (to Mad Cow disease). There is no evidence that the feed is infected with the germ that causes Mad Cow,'' Lumpkin told CNN.

The FDA is testing feed given to about 1,200 quarantined cattle in Texas to see if the feed contained meat and bone meal made from other ruminant animals.

Since 1997, FDA regulations have prohibited such feed from going to cattle because scientists believe the disease spreads when cows eat remains of other infected animals.

``What we are trying to find out is whether or not the cows got this kind of feed,'' Lumpkin said.

No cases of Mad Cow disease have been found in the United States, but the FDA is taking precautions after leading U.S. feed maker Purina Mills said one of its mills may have accidentally violated federal regulations.

Ruminant animals such as cows and sheep can carry Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), known as Mad Cow disease, or a similar disease.

Experts think the human version of the brain-wasting illness, called new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, develops after people consume tainted beef. More than 80 people have died from the disease in Europe, most of them in Britain.

Lumpkin said investigators were looking closely at how the mistaken feed may have been given to the Texas herd, adding that the cattle and cattle feed industry was very interested in getting to the bottom of what happened.

``Our communications with them have been that they are very supportive of our efforts to keep the Mad Cow germ out of the American cattle herd. They are also interested to find out where the error occurred if indeed an error occurred and these cattle were fed this type of feed,'' Lumpkin said.

The U.S. cattle herd is nearly 100 million animals, the single largest segment of U.S. agriculture, and stories about Mad Cow disease last week sent industry stocks plummeting.

The National Cattlemen's beef Association called an emergency meeting for Monday in Washington of feed industry and government officials to underscore the need for vigilance in the industry to prevent Mad Cow disease.


29 Jan 01 - CJD - Spinal cord 'found in German beef imports'

Ananova

PA News- Monday 29 January 2001


British inspectors have found the remnant of spinal cord in a consignment of beef quarters imported from Germany.

Checks of beef from Germany will be stepped up after the discovery at a meat cutting plant at Eastbourne, says the Food Standards Agency.

A FSA spokesman says the discovery was made in a consignment of 19,000 kilos of German beef.

The affected meat will be destroyed.

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

The consignment of 216 hindquarters from Oldenburg was detained by a vet from the Meat hygiene Service. One hindquarter was found to contain two inches of spinal cord. The meat had come into the UK yesterday through Dover by road.

All of the load has been traced and inspected, the spokesman said. The 215 carcases that did not contain SRM will be released.

The seizure follows a similar find in Northern Ireland in 40,000 kilos of beef imported from Germany on January 18.

The Agency has issued instructions that the Meat hygiene Service and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for Northern Ireland step up their inspection of imported German carcases at licensed plants from midnight.

This will result in 100% inspection of imported German beef carcases in licensed plants , the spokesman said.


29 Jan 01 - CJD - Europe's incinerators can barely cope with the scale of the slaughter

By Stephen Castle in Brussels

Independent- Monday 29 January 2001


Across Europe the same question is being asked: how do you dispose of 2 million cattle sentenced to death in the scare over Mad Cow disease ?

In France 30,000 cattle have been destroyed in three weeks, while in Spain a consignment of cow carcasses has been discovered rotting in a mineshaft. Ireland, meanwhile, is debating whether to construct its first big animal incinerator.

Europe's agriculture ministers meet in Brussels today and the scale of Europe's unprecedented destruction plan will be top of the agenda.

Germany's announcement on Friday, that meat from animals more than 24 months old will be tested, injected another element of uncertainty into an industry already reeling. The move could put pressure on other governments to follow suit. The rule is 30 months in the rest of Europe (generally BSE develops at this stage) but the European Commission may bring this threshold forward.

Not even the Commission knows how the slaughter programme is being implemented, although it concedes the size of the problem. One official describes this as "a considerable crisis, at least as big as the one in Britain in 1996. The whole farm sector has lost trust, the beef market is in disarray."

Already BSE has caused the resignation of two German cabinet ministers and two Spanish politicians. More political corpses may yet accompany the cattle carcasses piling up because the crisis is having a profound effect on livelihoods and life styles.

Waving flags and holding banners calling for "Safe Farms" and "Protection for All", Italian breeders took to the streets in Rome last week to press for government help as prices plunged. A little further north in Tuscany there is soul-searching over a potential ban on the local speciality, bistecca alla fiorentina, which is always served on the bone.

The Spanish authorities plan to prohibit the sale of meat from animals killed in bullrings (considered a delicacy) and possibly incinerate the bulls on the spot. One newspaper lamented that the crisis could even deny bullfighters their traditional prize - the freshly severed ears and tail of their victims.

The history of the spread of BSE has been one of official incompetence compounded by a failure to act for fear of alarming consumers and damaging farmers' incomes. Although BSE is on the wane in Britain (last year there were 1,312 cases, down from 2,280 in 1999) it holds primary responsibility for the spread of the epidemic to Europe and beyond. The government banned the practice of feeding cattle the bone and animal feed thought to be the main cause of BSE in 1988 but continued to export it for a further eight years.

But if British politicians buried their heads in the sand, their French, German and Italian counterparts followed suit, insisting their national herds were safe. That contradicted advice from the Commission which, as one Brussels official put it, "warned that, according to the scientific advice, there is no zero risk. We said, 'Please do not pretend we are BSE-free'."

Now, with a programme of testing in place across the EU, the extent of the disease is coming to light and, the greater the number of tests, the larger the number of cases. Under the EU's programme all meat from cattle more than 30 months old must be destroyed unless it has been tested and found BSE-free. The Commission has set up a Purchase for Destruction Scheme, worth about 700m euros (£443m), under which 70 per cent of the costs of the animals will be reimbursed by the EU with the member states making up the difference. The estimated cost of destroying potentially contaminated meat and bone meal, which will not be funded by the EU, will add a further 3bn euros. Brussels is leaving it to governments and farmers to decide whether to test or destroy older cows.

Germany has yet to adopt the Purchase for Destruction Scheme because all animals over 30 months are tested there, as they are in the Netherlands and Denmark.

Spain is taking part, although analysts say the country's five incinerators will be unable to cope with the 180,000 cattle facing slaughter over the next six months.

Ireland has begun its slaughter programme but, because of the lack of an incinerator, there is pressure on storage space. France has culled 30,572 cattle so far this year and Portugal expects to slaughter 50,000 cattle.


29 Jan 01 - CJD - EU faces cash crisis as BSE panic spreads

By Stephen Castle in Brussels

Independent- Monday 29 January 2001


The cost of supporting farmers could "explode" because of consumer panic over the spread of BSE across Europe , Brussels said yesterday.

The EU is legally obliged to buy unsold beef , and demand is already down by half in Germany and more than a quarter on average across the 15-nation union, new statistics show.

The meltdown in the beef market could plunge the Common Agricultural Policy, which accounts for a third of all EU spending, into crisis.

Although the consumer panic has been worst in Germany, demand has plunged by almost as much in Greece, Italy and Spain, which have seen reductions of 40 per cent. Sales have slumped by 30 per cent in Austria and Luxembourg, by a quarter in France and a fifth in Belgium. The European Commission said the new figures were "much more alarming" than earlier projections. Franz Fischler, the agriculture commissioner, warned that the position could become unmanageable.

Even more alarmingly, the latest estimates are based on an assumption that demand for beef will slump by only 10 per cent on average this year and that exports to the rest of the world will remain constant.

But Mr Fischler told agriculture ministers that, overall, beef consumption across the EU is down 27 per cent, with prices paid to farmers plummeting too, in some cases down by 36 per cent on last year.

Although some people hope consumer confidence will recover, the 10 per cent figure looks optimistic and, the report notes, "many third countries are banning EU beef".

Europe has insufficient cold-storage space for the growing stockpile of unsold beef, and cannot afford to continue taking surplus beef off the market as it normally does. If it tried, Mr Fischler said, "farm expenditure would simply explode".

Instead, the EU is urging countries to use a special slaughter scheme, 70 per cent funded by Brussels. It would see the destruction of 57,000 cattle, but only four countries have signed up so far.


29 Jan 01 - CJD - French discover new test to screen for BSE

By Roger Highfield, Science Editor

Telegraph- Monday 29 January 2001


A test that offers the prospect of screening apparently healthy cattle and people for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy has been developed, offering an opportunity to obtain accurate estimates of the scale of the epidemics.

A French team which is investigating the sensitivity of a simple biochemical test developed to screen slaughtered cattle for BSE reports its first results in the journal Nature. Its conclusion is that the test - which can "detect the disease before symptoms occur" - is the best available and should help to stop infected meat reaching the food chain.

At present, scientists use a range of assumptions, notably the incubation time of the disease, to estimate the potential human epidemic, which ranges from hundreds of people to 100,000. The new test could, in theory, help to detect people infected with BSE.

Existing tests, in which infected tissue is injected into mice that then develop symptoms if the sample is infected with BSE, can take up to two years. The new procedure yields results within five hours.


28 Jan 01 - CJD - Zoos raided as German food scares grow

By Imre Karacs in Berlin

Independent- Sunday 28 January 2001


What a sad place the little city zoo in Berlin's Kreuzberg district is. Children weep for their missing favourites; Gustav the gander, his wings drooping in sorrow, pines for his harem. All the other geese have vanished in recent days, along with four ducks and seven hens. The staff have eaten them .

Nothing seems sacred any more as Germans, confronted by empty shelves at the supermarkets, go foraging for food. With BSE beef already off the menu, followed by sausages and now pork, filling a German belly is becoming nearly impossible. As hunger grips, no one, not even the dedicated Kreuzberg zoo keepers, will object to a bit of free-range poultry.

Other options are fast running out. Even those still willing to risk steak are finding that restaurants are no longer serving it, while meat counters have at best only a token display of browning beef.

After the first scare in November, shoppers switched to game. Now the consumers are being informed that venison is also dodgy, because deer in German forests are apparently fed on the same kind of bone-meal fodder that has brought BSE to cattle.

Lamb is to be avoided, scientists warn, because of scrapie. Battery chickens come laced with salmonella and occasionally dioxin. Cats and dogs, in case anyone should fancy them, are out because of the low-grade beef they consume.

Other pets, such as hamsters and guinea-pigs, are equally unwholesome because they, too, have been unwittingly munching on the remnants of animal carcasses for years.

That, more or less, leaves fish, largely unknown to German cuisine apart from the roll-mop variety. Fresh fish, in any case, is hard to find.

There was also pork, of course, prepared in hundreds of ingenious ways from the humble fried chop to Helmut Kohl's beloved Saumagen, or stuffed pig's stomach. No German would starve while there was pork around in abundance.

Unfortunately, officials discovered last week that millions of Bavarian pigs have for years been fattened up with the help of illegal drugs, including the sort of anabolic steroids that enabled East German female athletes to swim as fast as men, at the price of growing hair on their chests.

To someone who does not wish to repeat the feat, pork is looking rather unappetising.

It is bad news for most Germans, who would rather die than become vegetarian. What are they supposed to eat? That is the question preoccupying much of the nation's media, with television channels scheduling special programmes every day in search of the elusive answer. But so far, consumers have only learnt from these what they cannot eat, not what they can.

That leaves Alfred Biolek, Germany's best-known TV chef, with the task of educating the masses. Mr Biolek is trying to wean people off their traditional greasy meat and stodgy veg. Viewers learnt the secrets of gnocchi with chanterelle mushrooms last week. They got the recipe for sauerkraut soup a week earlier.

What people can eat is also a political question in certain sensitive areas. For instance, the German parliament's canteen appears to have banned both beef and pork. Its latest offerings include cabbage stew, elk ragout, and organic vegetarian cannelloni.

beef has also been declared verboten in the armed forces, presumably on the grounds that you cannot have mad soldiers. But too much muscle has never done the troops any harm, so pork is still allowed.

Everyone else must get used to elk, reindeer, ostrich, crocodile and other exotic meats which have recently turned up at the shops, or go hunting. In this frenzy, the sheep in Kreuzberg are probably safe for the moment, but the rabbits had better watch out.

Old Gustav, by the way, survived the zoo keepers' feast because he was thought to be too chewy.


28 Jan 01 - CJD - Britain put 69 countries at Risk of BSE

By Paul Lashmar

Independent- Sunday 28 January 2001


Britain could have spread BSE to 69 countries by selling them meat-and-bone cattle meal knowing that it might have been contaminated with the disease .

The revelation , in previously unpublished Ministry of Agriculture documents, shows the extent of Britain's exports of the potentially contaminated material. Between 1988, when meat-and-bone meal (MBM) was banned in Britain and 1996, thousands of tons were sent to European nations such as the Netherlands, France and Germany. Israel imported more than 31,000 tons, and Russia more than 3,000 tons.

Large amounts were sent to developing countries, particularly after European countries banned British MBM feed. Indonesia imported 60,000 tons from Britain between 1991 and 1996 and Kenya imported 521 tons between 1987 and 1996. The figures include some poultry feed, which continued to be sold legally after 1996. Britain also exported more than three million live cows to 36 countries between 1988 and 1996.

The Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organisation said that all countries which imported cattle MBM feed from Western Europe - especially Britain - since the 1980s could be at risk from the disease.

Until now, all known cases of BSE and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, its brain-wasting human form, have been reported in Europe, mainly in Britain. But the disease is starting to emerge in other countries. A woman died of it in South Africa in December.

Some experts fear that the exports will lead to BSE epidemics in some of the poorest countries in the world. Stephen Dealler, a clinical microbiologist and BSE expert, said: "Exporting MBM feed that was potentially BSE-infected was like selling boxes of blank bullets containing a few live ones and saying it's not your problem if someone gets shot.

"We have only just managed to get control of BSE here and that is with a very tough regime. It is going to be much harder in African and Middle Eastern countries."

In the UK, more than 170,000 cattle have been diagnosed with BSE and about 1,300 on the Continent.

When the ban was imposed on domestic sales of the feed in 1988, companies turned to the EU market and when that too collapsed after bans, new markets were found in developing countries and other non-EU countries.

Phillip Whitehead, a Labour MEP who sat on the parliament's 1998 BSE inquiry, said no assessment has been made of the likelihood of BSE outbreaks in most non-EU countries that imported the British MBM feed. "It was an irresponsible action to continue to export MBM feed after we had banned it here," he added. "It was appalling that we continued to flog it abroad."

The government banned MBM cattle feed on 12 July 1988, just three months after government animal health experts had realised it was responsible for the rapid spread of BSE

Evidence provided to the British BSE inquiry headed by Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers showed that leading British officials in effect washed their hands of moral responsibility over the dangers of MBM feed spreading BSE to infection-free countries, leaving it to individual countries to decide whether to import British feed or prevent it being given to cattle.

Trade organisations say that some exported MBM feed was subject to high temperature treatment that would have destroyed BSE agents. The UK Renderers' Association, whose members were largely responsible for exports, agreed that such sales increased in the early 1990s. "But allegations of dumping, following plummeting prices, are completely untrue," it said.