BSE fear for millions of British pets
Owners of pets seek BSE answers
72 house cats down from BSE
Cat food fears
Ministry did work with BSE tester Narang
Plan to destroy
BSE carcasses by microwave
Two billlion allocated for BSE
BSE fear for millions of British pets
THE INDEPENDENT 16 Oct 96 By ANTHONY BEVINS, Political Editor
A change in government policy suggests that millions of British domestic
cats are being fed BSE-contaminated food.
A minister has announced a ban on all production of pet food in any building
used for the manufacture of livestock feed.
Angela Browning, an agriculture minister, has confirmed to the Commons in a
written reply that mammalian meat and bone meal (MBM) - powdered residue
from culled and rendered cattle - is used in pet food. But she has also told
Martyn Jones, a microbiologist and Labour MP: 'Because of our concerns that
pet food containing MBM might present a possible risk of cross-contamination
of livestock feed, new measures to prevent this were introduced on 1
'The Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy order 1996 now prohibits the
production of this material (pet food containing MBM) on the same premises
as livestock feed unless this takes place in a separate building and there
is no contact with equipment or vehicles used in the production of livestock
Mr Jones said last night: 'This is an astounding revelation. This stuff is
so risky that they are not even allowed to bury it. Instead, they are
getting rid of it by passing it on to pet food manufacturers.
'It is probably being used in every cat food, as a filler - duck, liver,
tuna, you name it. The Government is quite clearly trying to get out of a
hole by getting rid of it in this way.'
A Ministry of Agriculture spokesman said last night that there was no risk
to household pets from MBM in pet food 'because they are meat-eaters'.
But a Commons select committee investigation into BSE was told in April that 72
cats had tested positive for a form of spongiform encephalopathy.
The committee was also told that while the high-risk specified bovine
material - such as spinal cord - would be incinerated, 'sides of meat will
be rendered into meat and bone meal which will then be disposed of, either
by landfill or incineration.' There was no mention of MBM being used in pet
Mr Jones asked Mrs Browning earlier this week how much MBM from bovine
sources was being used in pet food, and the minister told him that no
figures were available. The spokesman said: 'You will have to ask the
But the August ban on joint pet food and livestock feed manufacture also
required 'that all movements and use of MBM have to be recorded and
accompanied by appropriate documentation.'
Mr Jones said he was dismayed by the ministry response 'They have claimed
from day one of this BSE crisis that it was caused by meat and bone meal. We
also know that cats can be infected. He added: 'If the risk is so great, why
are they feeding it to our pets?'
Owners of pets seek BSE answers
THE INDEPENDENT 17 Oct 96
By CHARLES ARTHUR and ANTHONY BEVINS
Pet food manufacturers denied yesterday that their products might be
contaminated with BSE, but the MP who first raised the fears insisted that
important safety questions had not been answered.
The Pet Food Manufacturers' Association (PFMA), whose members sold a billion
pounds' worth of cat and dog foods last year, said that the suggestion by
MartynJones, a microbiologist and Labour MP, that BSE-infected 'meat and
bone meal' (MBM) - produced from grinding down cattle carcasses - could end
up in pet food was 'a misunderstanding'.
Anxious pet owners inundated the RSPCA and the PFMA with calls yesterday,
Under a government order, pet food containing MBM may not be prepared on the
same premises as food for cattle or sheep. But the Ministry of Agriculture,
Fisheries and Food (Maff) said yesterday that this was done to avoid cattle
being fed meat remains, and that it did not imply that MBM might be
contaminated with BSE.
However, the measure has clearly been taken so that there is no possibility
of BSE-infected products being passed back into cattle feed. This
'recycling' is believed to have caused the original epidemic, which has so
far led to almost 164,000 cases of BSE being diagnosed, and an estimated
700,000 cattle which were developing the disease being passed as fit for
human consumption. MBM is made from such cattle. The agent that causes BSE
is not killed by the manufacturing process.
Dogs appear to be immune to BSE, but cats have developed a version, called
feline spongiform encepalopathy (FSE). Since the first case was identified
in 1990, 71 FSE cases have been reported, all in the UK. But there has been
a sharp decline in cases: last year there were eight, but this year there
has been just one. This fall mirrors the BSE epidemic, whichin 1992 saw
36,000 cases in cattle. So far this year there have been 5,219 cases.
Mr Jones said yesterday that a number of questions remained unanswered about
the material being used in petfood.
'Some petfood representatives have said that I have accepted that I
misunderstood the situation. That is not true. Having spoken to them, there
are still questions to be answered.'
Cat food fears
THE INDEPENDENT 18 Oct 96
DR STEPHANIE RYBAK
Sir: If the mammalian meat and bone meal in cat food could pass BSE to
livestock feed simply by being in the same building ('BSE fear for millions
of British pets', 16 October), what about human feed in cat-owners'
Dr STEPHANIE RYBAK
Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
Ministry did work with BSE tester
THE INDEPENDENT 18 Oct 96 From K C MELDRUM
Sir: Dr Grant's letter (11 October) suggests that the Ministry has
persistently refused to co-operate with Dr Narang on the development of
tests for BSE. This is simply not true.
In 1990, Maff assisted Dr Narang with trials to validate a test on brain
sections he had developed at that time. It was not taken any further because
theresults did not show it to be significantly better than other tests
Since then Dr Narang has developed a diagnostic test on urine for BSE. Far
from refusing to co-operate with Dr Narang we are in discussion with him
regarding a trial to see whether his new test works, under the scrutiny of
an independent observer.
We would hope to reach agreement with Dr Narang in the near future. The
results of the trial should be published once complete.
K C MELDRUM
Chief Veterinary Officer, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
Plan to destroy BSE carcasses by
By Greg Neale, Environment Correspondent
Sunday Telegraph ... Sunday 20 October 1996
Cattle carcasses could be destroyed in
mobile microwave ovens, according to plans being studied by
the Ministry of Agriculture as it attempts to stem the epidemic.
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food officials are studying proposals
from BRC Environmental Services, of Hainault, Essex, that its "microwave-induced
pyrolysis" process could destroy carcasses on farms without
the risk of fumes escaping. The company believes its process, developed
over the last six years, could be more efficient than conventional incineration
techniques, according to a report in Professional Engineering magazine.
The process is being examined by engineers at the Harper Adam college at
Newport, Shropshire, before the ministry decides to fund a pilot project.
Cavin McDonald, BRC's engineering director, said yesterday that the system,
"a combination of a microwave and a pressure cooker", would raise
the temperature of the carcass in excess of 135C for more than 20 minutes.
"It would be a high enough temperature to ensure that the prion protein
[thought to be responsible for BSE] would be destroyed," he said.
Water vapour would be distilled; methane gas given off could be burned
to provide electricity for the microwave; fats could be recycled and the
resultant carbon char could be safely deposited in landfills, Mr McDonald
The company has spent £7 million developing technologies to recycle
waste, beginning with processes to retrieve oil from tyres. Dr Richard
Green of Harper Adam College, said yesterday: "We believe the system
is reasonably likely to be successful, raising the temperature where all
organic material would be destroyed with no emissions.
"What we propose to do initially is to look at the technology BRC
are developing and see whether it can do what we would want it to. Then,
if Maff are prepared to fund it, we would build a pilot unit."
A ministry spokesman said: "We have accepted a detailed proposal from
BRC and Harper Adam College and are considering it."
Major admits size of deficit is
a 'blot on the horizon'
by Philip Webster, Political Editor
The Times ... October 19 1996
John Major admitted yesterday that the Government's high borrowing
was a "blot" on the economic horizon in the clearest pointer
so far that he accepts substantial tax cuts will be impossible to achieve
in the Budget next month.
The Prime Minister's public acknowledgement that the state of government
debt was "a problem" follows an even bleaker private assessment
by Kenneth Clarke, the Chancellor, at Thursday's Cabinet meeting. As Mr
Clarke called his Treasury team together for weekend talks at Dorneywood,
his official country residence, it emerged that he had warned Cabinet colleagues
that his options were severely circumscribed both by the size of the deficit
and the demands on spending budgets.
With ministers anxious to avoid pre-election rows over cuts, the Chancellor
is understood to believe that only modest reductions in the levels of public
spending planned a year ago can be contemplated. That will disappoint the
Tory Right, which has been pressing for heavy cuts to fund a pre-election
The Dorneywood gathering is expected to conclude that 1p is probably the
most that Mr Clarke will be able to afford to knock off income tax. He
has told colleagues that he cannot take risks with the financial allocations
to schools and the health service in the run-up to the election.
Amid indications that discussions within the Cabinet's spending committee
have become tense and difficult, Mr Clarke's warning to the Cabinet during
a general discussion about the economy was said to have been firm. The
BSE crisis had had a big impact on his room for manoeuvre, he said. It
has already taken £1 billion off this year's spending contingency
reserve and will take at least the same next year.
Lower tax revenues have meant that Mr Clarke's hopes of cutting
the budget deficit this year have not been realised. The deficit in the
first six months of the financial year was £19.8 billion, after removing
privatisation proceeds, compared with £20.1 billion last year.
Although Mr Major delivered an optimistic message about the overall state
of the economy during talks with businessmen yesterday, he made plain that
he would not take any short-term risks that might accelerate a revival
He said that inflation was "as much under lock and key as I can ever
remember it". But he then added: "The only economic blot on the
horizon is the size of the fiscal deficit. That is a problem."
A Vet Writes
The Times ... October 19 1996
In the past ten years more than 150 thousand cows have developed
The vast majority of veterinary scientists and micro-biologists agree that
cattle developed this disease after eating cattle cake containing meat
and bone meal derived from sheep with scrapie a spongiform encephalopathy
known for at least 200 years. The disease had "jumped the species
barrier". Which posed the question if it went from sheep to
cattle where else could it go?
In April 1989 pet food makers stopped using offal that included potentially
infective BSE material. This specified bovine offal (SBO), which is brain,
spinal chord, spleen, thymus, tonsils and intestines, was banned from use
in human food in November 1989. Pets were protected before people. Before
1986, scientists and doctors recognised encephalopathies in mink and feline
SE has been found in 72 cats, all born prior to 1989. No one has found
encaphalopathy in dogs. A few zoo animals were infected, perhaps because
they were fed on infected sheep or cattle heads.
Cattle cake may have transmitted BSE to elans, oryx and kudu relatives
of our domestic ruminants. All zoo animal infections also occurred before
1989, the critical year.
Good quality dog or cat food from one of the "big name" manufacturers
is the best way of feeding your pet. That's what I am doing. Do it yourself
beef -free diets are quite likely to lead to deficiencies and create extra
The BSE panic has made British beef the safest in the world whether
it is prime steak or something in a carton or can for your cat or dog.
The potentially suspect bits have been removed for incineration before
anybody human or pet gets near them. Beef used in pet foods
has to reach standards that would make it fit for human consumption.
My dog is having canned food and her daily bone. I am eating beef
medium rare. Not as overdone as the BSE hysteria. Perhaps the best way
to restore confidence in British beef is to tell the rest of the world
"if you want the best and safest beef, buy British."