CJD in a man and pet cat
Swiss slaughterhouse madness
BSE cow carcass mountain buraned for electric power
nvCJD woman dies after long fight
Portugal may try harder to control mad cow disease
When safe does not mean safe
Maff refused to prosecute abattoirs
Sixth case of mad cow disease found in Belgium
Compulsory cattle passports
BSE in lamb clue '10 years old'
Dura mater and surgical manufacturing
Why BSE continued inspite of the SBO regulations
BSE analysis should include pigs and US strains: Consumers Union
October 3, 1998 The Lancet p. 1116 (offline) and Reuters PATRICIA REANEYA man and his cat developed sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) simultaneously, report Gianluigi Zanusso and colleagues in a Research letter in this week's Lancet.
Examinations of brain tissue in both showed a similar prion strain, which was different from previously reported cases of spongiform encephalopathy in cats and different from BSE-related conditions. Both had a genetic constellation of the prion-protein gene more commonly seen in patients with CJD.
Is this a freak coincidence or could these transmissible spongiform encephalopathies have occurred "as the result of horizontal transmission in either direction, infection from an unknown common source, or the chance occurrence of two sporadic forms", the researchers ask.
The strain of CJD has never been found in a cat before and seems to be similar to the disease in its owner. Dr. Gianluigi Zanusso, of the University of Verona was quoted as saying that, "We do not know whether it had been transmitted between the man and the cat. What we have found in this case is that the man and the cat show almost the same pathology."
The unidentified 60-year-old man, who died three months after being admitted to hospital, had the most common form of the brain disorder that scientists believe is caused by a mishaped brain protein known as a prion. It was not a new variant CJD that strikes much younger people and which has been linked to eating beef contaminated with BSE.
In a letter to The Lancet medical journal, Zanusso said the occurrence of the disease in the man and his cat could be pure coincidence [probability one per million squared = one in a trillion odds, sporadic CJD has never been reported in felids -- webmaster], an infection from a common source [such as pet food, pet food dust, or table scraps eaten by both -- webmaster], or a result of horizontal transmission between the owner and his pet.
He and his colleagues are injecting mice with samples of brain tissue from the man and the cat to confirm it is the same strain of disease in both. Zanusso said the cat developed behavioral changes and features that were also different from other reported cases of the feline disease.
Researchers have ruled out food contamination as the source of the infection because they found a different strain of the prion protein from the ones usually transmitted through food. [This is reporter error; nvCJD from the UK strain of BSE and its feline counterpart are ruled out but not other strains -- webmaster]
Zanusso said the cat died several months after the owner which could suggest the animal caught the disease from the man. [This statement is false: both cat and man died in January 1994 within ten days of each other according to the first paragraph of the Lancet article. Even a temporal gap suggests nothing: the incubation times could vary wildly and reverse the order of symptom appearance -- webmaster]
Dr. Moria Bruce, a researcher at the Institute of Animal Health in Edinburgh who has done extensive research on prions, was cited as saying the evidence that the man and the cat had the same strain of disease needs to be confirmed by transmission studies.
New Scientist 17 October 1998 Debora MacKenzieA SWISS cow infected with BSE has been removed from the human food chain after testing positive for the disease at an abattoir. This is the first confirmed case of infection in an apparently healthy animal destined for the dinner table.
During the past three months Switzerland's Federal Veterinary Office has organised tests of brains from 3000 randomly selected cattle more than 30 months old, at abattoirs across the country. All the brains have now been tested with a fast immunological assay for the altered prion protein thought to cause BSE, developed by Prionics, a company based in Zurich. An older, slower assay is also being used on the brain samples, and so far all the results from the first 2200 match the results of the fast assay. [This suggest that the faster Prionics test is reliable and should be broadly adopted -- webmaster]
In September, both tests found the rogue prion protein in the brain of a four-year-old cow. The speed of the Prionics test meant the carcass was kept off the market and destroyed. The sample is too small to give a statistically accurate incidence of BSE infection, but the results suggest that around 50 infected cows per year are eaten in Switzerland. Earlier this year, tests conducted by the Federal Veterinary Office and Prionics suggested a rate of infection of 4.5 per thousand in apparently healthy herd mates of cattle which had developed BSE (This Week, 13 June, p 4). In Switzerland, herds in which there is a case of BSE are destroyed. But the results raised the question of how many infected animals were lurking in apparently healthy herds.
"BSE has a long incubation time, so we always knew that in theory, some infected animals might be entering the food chain," says Markus Moser of Prionics. "Now we have actually observed it." Prionics is now pressing the Swiss government to test all carcasses in abattoirs and eliminate infected meat.
In Britain, cows older than 30 months are destroyed and do not enter the food chain. The Swiss did not test younger cows because, even if they are infected as calves, it takes time for the prion to multiply to detectable levels. "We would have needed a very large sample size to have detected infection in younger cows," says Moser. "But cows 20 months old have developed BSE in Britain, so we know some younger cows are carrying it."
Roy Anderson of the University of Oxford, a member of Britain's Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee, says epidemiological models of the disease predict that between 200 and 300 cows per year enter the food chain in Britain. It is not clear if any of these contain sufficient prion in their tissues to infect people, however. And attempting to exclude these animals using a test like the one developed by Prionics could be expensive. [Too bad the contaminated beef cannot be eaten by the people who find this too expensive. A rather low value is set on human life here; the real issue is that a few pennies a pound more for beef would divert sales to chicken and fish. -- webmaster]
"If it is not too expensive and reliable, testing carcasses for infection at abattoirs would make sense,says Anderson. But so far, tests are expensive and their reliability is still unclear. The British authorities have decided testing is not yet warranted.
Author Debora Mackenzie comments:
It was possibly sloppy shorthand on my part to call the slaughtered cow which tested positive to the BSE tests in Switzerland "apparently healthy". In context, most readers would understand this to mean "not apparently suffering from BSE", which is what I meant. Probably that is what I should have written -- although if I had, my editor would probably have changed it to "apparently healthy".
The interesting point here, as I mentioned in my posting to ProMed, is that many cows are slaughtered because their milk output is falling, they are old and they have mastits so maybe they aren't considered worth treating, etc. These are common reasons to slaughter normal cows, but the symptoms can also be very early signs of BSE. In this respect, the cow was as healthy as most cows sent for slaughter at her age.
Oct. 4 /98 Electronic Telegraph Victoria MacdonaldA report will disclose this week that BSE has been detected in an apparently healthy cow from a herd that was meant to be free of the disease, as it was about to enter the food chain.
The story added that although scientists and officials in Britain last night played down the findings, they will raise new concerns about the degree to which herds contain cows that have BSE but show no symptoms of the disease. The discovery, which threatens a new crisis for beef farmers, was made last week when scientists carried out tests on the carcass of a four-year-old cow from a Swiss herd. The BSE-infected carcass was discarded.
Researchers from the Swiss biotechnology firm Prionics, who developed the test, believe that their results suggest that more herds than had been thought are infected with the prion protein which causes BSE. They say there is no certain way of telling how long the cow had been infected.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Agriculture was cited as saying that all cattle in Britain were slaughtered before 30 months, so no four-year-old cow would enter the food chain here. Its scientists had been in close contact with the Zurich team. [This is a pathetic PR response, given that BSE has been detected in 20 month old cattle and that MAFF has fought testing and refused to use the Prionics and similar tests. --webmaster]
Professor Jeffrey Almond, a microbiologist at Reading University and a member of the Scientific Encephalopathy Advisory Committee, was cited as saying that the findings did not have any relevance in Britain because of the 30-month slaughter policy, but there might be a case for compulsory testing because the Swiss team had picked up BSE before any symptoms manifested themselves.
"If you read the official report on the Swiss National Veterinary Website at you will see that the cow had presented nervous signs of the disease but there was an error in the clinical interpretation of the change in the behaviour of these cow. The cow was affected by a mastitis and the change of behaviour was misdiagnosed with reaction to pain." -- Jeanne Brugere-Picoux
Swiss government response:
"With interest we read the Internet versions of your report on the discovery of one subclinically BSE cow in a sample of 3000 slaughtered animals in Switzerland (ProMED-AHEAD 13. October 1998; upcoming New Scientist 17 October 1998 p 16 article). We fully agree with your conclusion that "the discovery of only one case does not allow the empirical calculation of a clinically significant rate", and support most of the other conclusions made and the areas of uncertainty pointed out in the report.
It is impossible to quantify the effect of screening all cattle in abattoirs on food safety. The effect is bound to be minor since, on one hand all known high-risk organs are removed at slaughter and destroyed (which is current practice in Switzerland) and on the other, currently available tests only detect cases in the final stages of incubation. In addition, systematic testing implies substantial costs and, even in a BSE-free population, a certain proportion of false-positive animals.
However, BSE tests such as the Prionics Western Blot do provide us with a fast and reliable tool to repeatedly test well-defined subsets of the cattle population. Testing of selected cohorts at regular intervals would provide us with even more reliable estimates on the prevalence of (subclinical) disease in the population and the changes occurring over time. This approach, in addition with other procedures, could eventually be used to document that a cattle population in a country or region is (again) free of the disease."
Marcus Doherr and Marc Vandevelde Swiss Reference Laboratory for Animal TSEs Marcus G. Doherr, Dr. med. vet., Ph.D. c/o Epidemiology Unit, P.O. Box Inst. of Virology and Immunoprophylaxis (IVI) CH-3147 Mittelhaeusern / Switzerland
October 8 1998 Times of London BY MICHAEL HORNSBYSAFEGUARDS to shield cats, dogs and other pets against infection by "mad cow" disease came into effect before comparable measures to protect human beings, it was claimed yesterday.
Pet food manufacturers told the BSE inquiry in London that, after taking scientific advice, they had collectively adopted a voluntary ban on the use of brain, spinal cord and other potentially dangerous cattle offals in June 1989. A similar ban covering food intended for human consumption was not introduced by the Government until five months later and, according to earlier evidence submitted to the inquiry, not properly enforced until 1995.
One company, Spillers Petfoods, said that it had stopped using cattle spleen, brains and spinal cord in July 1988, a year and four months before these items were banned from human food. Another firm, Pedigree Masterfoods, said that it had stopped using some beef-derived items, including brain, tonsils, thymus and intestines as early as the late 1970s, but had continued using a limited amount of bovine spleen and spinal cord until mid-1989.
Scientists believe that BSE, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, probably passed to cattle in the form of meat and bonemeal derived from sheep infected with scrapie, which belongs to the same lethal family of brain diseases.
Representatives of supermarket chains told the inquiry yesterday that they had taken steps of their own to protect the public against BSE, but had also relied on Government assurances that everything was being done to keep dangerous cattle parts out of the human food chain.
Mike Wildman, an executive with Sainsbury's, said that in June 1988 his company had "reformulated the very few products which we sold containing brain tissues, such as brawn, a cooked, potted meat". He said that, long before 1988, Sainsbury's had stopped using the other offals later banned by the Government, such as tonsils, which he said were at the time still often used in burgers and other cheap food.
Terry Macalister, The Guardian, Wednesday October 7th, 1998AN ENTERPRISING "green energy" group has come up with an elegant solution to one of the more unpleasant side effects of the BSE crisis: the cow carcass mountain.
The company intends to light up the equivalent of a small town with electricity generated by burning hundreds of tonnes of meat and bones daily.
Fibrogen of Scunthorpe has in the past profitably gener- ated electricity from chicken manure. Yesterday it won a government contract to burn as fuel the 2.5 million cattle not infected with the disease but slaughtered under BSE guidelines. [Of course, some of these cattle are infected sub-clinically-- webmaster]
Fibrogen will produce 13.5mw of power - enough to light up 24,000 homes by burning 260 tonnes of meat and bone meal (MBM) a day for three years making a dent in the carcass mountain which is growing by 70,000 tonnes a year.
The scheme will also play a small part in government at- tempts to ensure 10 per cent of the country's electricity comes from renewable resources by the year 2010 as part of its attempt to slow the impact of global warming. [However, this is like burning coal -- webmaster]
Fibrogen will use the cattle- derived fuel to produce power at Glanford near Scunthorpe, one of its three innovative power stations powered by chicken manure.
Rupert Fraser, managing director of Fibrogen, de- scribes MBM as an "excellent fuel" which is safe, has a high energy content, and low gas emissions. He said: "No one else does this particular kind of biomass work."
The cattle come from the Over Thirty Month Scheme which was put in place in 1996 to restore confidence in Brit- ish beef and to help lift the current beef export ban. No meat is allowed to be sold from cows over the age of 2.5 years old, so, even cattle' with- out BSE cannot be used as food. Cattle showing clinical symptoms of BSE are dis- posed of under separate arrangements.
Some 340,000 tonnes of pro- cessed meat and bone has been lying in warehouses. Fi- brogen has yet to win plan- ning permission for its burn- ing plans but hopes to start next year.
THE TIMES, London, October 13, 1998PAMELA BEYLESS yesterday became the latest Briton to die from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Ms Beyless, 24, contracted the disease last year and was not expected to survive last summer. Her parents, Arthur and June, gave her 24-hour care at their home in Leicester until last Thursday, when she began having difficulty breathing and was taken to hospital. Her mother said yesterday: "Her death is not a relief."
Reuters and the Times, London, October 13, 1998BRUSSELS - Portuguese Farm Minister Luis Capoulas Santos said on Wednesday Portugal had taken measures to fight a recent outbreak of mad cow disease, but was tight-lipped on details or whether they would avert an EU export ban. European Farm Commissioner Franz Fischler will report to the European Commission next week on the measures required to prevent the spread of mad cow disease or BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) in Portugal, a Commission spokesman said.
"We had a very constructive meeting during which I had the oportunity to stress our arguments," Capoulas Santos told reporters after a meeting in Brussels with Fischler. "I'm confident the measures will guarantee the protection of consumers both in Portugal and abroad," he added, Capoulas Santos said Portugal was determined to combat mad cow disease but played down a new outbreak saying the situation was no worse than in other European Union countries, particularly Britain.
"There have been 1,300 new cases in Britain against 59 or 60 in Portugal at the end of September," he said. [These are cases admitted to after the scandal broke and may not reflect total numbers of animals affected -- webmaster]
Portugal is a minor beef producer and consumes most of its output, exporting less than 10 percent to neighbouring Spain and to former colony Angola. [The ministry initially denied exporting beef to other countries. Statistics by country may be found at the Offic International des Epizooties web site-- webmaster]
In 1997 it had 1.3 million head of cattle compared with 11.6 million in Britain and 5.4 million in Spain, according to Portuguese officials in Brussels. Portuguese sources said the new measures would likely include the removal of all suspect animal feed and tougher sanctions on farmers found feeding it to cattle. Spain has already banned imports of Portuguese beef.
Reuters World Report Wed, Oct 7, 1998BRUSSELS - The European Commission said on Wednesday the spread of mad cow disease in Portugal was more serious than official figures suggested and called for an action plan to stop the crisis in its tracks. Commission officials said the toughest measure the plan could contain would be a complete export ban on Portuguese beef, similar to one placed on Britain in 1996.
"A considerably larger number of animals than currently confirmed are incubating the disease," the Commission said in a statement, calling on the Portuguese authorities to tighten controls over what was fed to cattle. Portugal has said there have been more than 50 new cases of mad cow disease or BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) this year, bringing total confirmed cases to around 150.
An initial inspection carried out by EU veterinary experts in May fuelled the Commissions's fears after it concluded there were serious failings in Portugal's controls over animal feed. A second inspection at the end of last month, made at Portugal's request, failed to ease those concerns.
"The independent recycling of the BSE agent in the Portuguese cattle population can no longer be excluded," the Commission said on Wednesday following a provisional examination of this report. [This says the outbreak may not be entirely due to contaminated feed imported from the UK -- webmaster]
Portugal last month issued a decree banning the use of suspect animal feed in the food chain and claimed the situation had improved significantly. Agriculture Minister Fernando Gomes Da Silva came under fire over the crisis, which intensified after Spain closed its border to Portuguese beef last month. He recently stepped down from office through ill-health and has been replaced by his deputy, Luis Capoulas Santos.
Britain is still battling to get its worldwide beef export ban lifted, more than two years after it was imposed by the EU. More than 170,000 cases of mad cow disease have been registered in Britain to date, with some 200 new cases continuing to be reported every month.
October 8, 1998 ReutersThe government was responding to a European Commission warning on Wednesday that the extent of the disease was more serious than official Portuguese figures suggested. It demand that Lisbon draw up a plan to stop the crisis in its tracks and warned that Portugal faced a possible total ban on beef exports if it did not act. Spain has already closed its borders to Portuguese beef.
Some 150 cases of mad cow disease or BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) have been officially identified in Portugal. But the Commission said in a report that "a considerably larger number of animals than currently confirmed are incubating the disease."
An initial inspection carried out by European Union veterinary experts in May fueled the Commissions' fears after it concluded there were serious failings in Portugal's controls over animal feed. A second inspection at the end of last month, made at Portugal's request, failed to ease those concerns.
10-11-98 TimesThe Chief Medical Officer at the height of the BSE crisis has accused officials from the Ministry of Agriculture of misleading the public over the safety of eating British beef. In evidence submitted to the BSE inquiry, Sir Kenneth Calman accuses officials of failing to understand the nature of the crisis. Ý
Sir Kenneth, who issued many assurances about the safety of beef, said officials knew as late as 1995 that contaminated offal was being illegally processed in Britain's abattoirs. Ý He said that if he had known that such activity was taking place he would never have assured the public that British beef was safe to eat. Ý
Douglas Hogg, the agriculture minister during the period Sir Kenneth says safety procedures were being flouted, refused to comment on the evidence. Ý He said: "I have not seen his [Sir Kenneth's] statement. I am not in a position to comment." Ý
BSE has subsequently been linked to new variant CJD, a human form of the disease, which has claimed increasing numbers of lives. Ý Measures to prevent contaminated tissue such as brain and spinal column passing through abattoirs and into the human food chain were introduced in 1990. Ý
But Sir Kenneth told the inquiry that the chief veterinary officer Keith Meldrum told him that, as late as 1995, instances had been recorded of contaminated tissue passing into the human food chain. Ý Sir Kenneth also told the inquiry that just nine days before the then Health Secretary Stephen Dorrell told the House of Commons of a link between BSE and a human form of CJD, the Ministry of Agriculture had produced a leaflet saying British beef was safe to eat. Ý Sir Kenneth said he had to stop publication immediately. Ý In his evidence, Sir Kenneth said he found the attitude of those responsible for removing contaminated tissue from the human food chain "astonishing." Ý
Gerry Callaghan, whose 30-year-old brother Maurice died of new variant CJD, condemned the fact that the public was misled. Ý He said: "At what stage in all of this do we get an admission from individuals in goverment departments or from government departments themselves that they are responsbible for these deaths?"
By Jon von Radowitz and Peter Walker, PA NewsThe nation's chief medical officer has accused Government officials of a "mad cow disease" cover-up. Sir Kenneth Calman said Ministry of Agriculture officials deliberately played down concerns about BSE in the face of worrying new evidence. Sir Kenneth, who stepped down from the post in September, said he had to stop officials putting out reassuring publicity about BSE even after research pointed to a new form of CJD, the human form of the disease.
In written evidence submitted to the BSE inquiry, and made public last night, Sir Kenneth describes how in March 1996 he was told of a cluster of cases of CJD in people aged under 42. These were the first known instances of "new variant" CJD, which scientists later attributed to eating beef infected with BSE.
Sir Kenneth describes in his evidence how the ministry had wanted to put out a reassuring message about BSE, even though its officers were "fully aware" of the findings, which were being finalised for publication by the CJD Surveillance Unit in Edinburgh. He will appear before the inquiry on Monday.
The CJD Support Network said Sir Kenneth's evidence was "an extremely worrying piece of information." A spokesman said: "This is a very serious concern. We can only hope that having such information in the open can help future public health decisions."
Sir Kenneth said: "I felt it was inappropriate to publish such material which may well require correction in the immediate future."
On March 20, 1996, Sir Kenneth prepared a statement containing his advice to the Government in which he said the new variant cases of CJD were a "cause for serious concern". While there was still no direct evidence of a link with beef, he agreed with scientific experts that the most likely explanation for the emergence of the strain was exposure to BSE before the offal ban. In the written evidence submitted to the inquiry, Sir Kenneth talks of "differences of opinion" between the Department of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture (MAFF).
He hints that MAFF was concerned about expense to the farming industry, and openly criticises Keith Meldrum, the former Chief Veterinary Officer at MAFF. The criticism concerns the response to four instances which came to light in October 1995 of spinal cord not being properly removed from cattle carcases in abattoirs. Spinal cord was banned from human consumption along with other specified offals in 1989. Subsequent information that banned offals might well have got into animal feed because of inadequate controls at slaughterhouses had caused Sir Kenneth to be "extremely concerned".
Mon, Oct 12, 1998 By Alex Richardson and Helen William, PA NewsFormer Chief Medical Officer Sir Kenneth Calman today said official advice during the early 1990s that British beef was "safe" to eat had not meant it posed no possible risk to human health. As Chief Medical Officer for England from 1991 until he stepped down last month, and before that Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, Sir Kenneth had repeatedly assured the public that British beef was safe to eat.
Today he justified that advice to the BSE inquiry by saying "safe" did not necessarily mean "zero risk", but that the scientific evidence available at the time did not suggest a significant danger from eating beef. As he began giving evidence to the inquiry, which has been hearing witnesses since March, Sir Kenneth said: "The meaning of `safe' is central to this inquiry. "If you look at `safe' in ordinary speech, we don't mean that a driver we describe as safe will never have an accident. "In ordinary usage safe doesn't necessarily mean `no risk'."
In his evidence Sir Kenneth accused Ministry of Agriculture officials of trying to play down fears over the potential threat posed by so-called "mad cow disease". He clashed with civil servants from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Foods (MAFF) over what to tell the public after it emerged contaminated offal may have entered the human food chain because slaughterhouse safeguards were being flouted, he told the inquiry. And he also criticised the "astonishing" attitude of the farming and slaughterhouse industries, who he said did not take the potential risk to humans from BSE seriously enough.
Sir Kenneth was giving evidence to the BSE inquiry, headed by Lord Justice Phillips, at a Government office block in south London. Among those listening to today's hearing from the public seats were relatives of victims of "new variant" CJD, the most likely cause for which scientists now believe to be eating infected beef.
Afterwards Dot Churchill of Devizes, Wiltshire, whose 19-year-old son Stephen died of CJD in 1995, condemned health officials for their "lack of forward planning" in dealing with the crisis. Outside the inquiry room she said: "Two strong things that came across today are that safe does not necessarily mean safe and also that there was very little communication made to the public.
"There has been very little attempt to look after the victims of CJD. Sir Kenneth told the inquiry that in October 1995 he had been alarmed to learn that bans on potentially infective material - including offal and spinal cord from cattle - might not be working because of lax practices at slaughterhouses.
In written evidence to the inquiry, published on Friday, he said he received a letter on October 23, 1995 from Chief Veterinary Officer Keith Meldrum saying that on four occasions inspectors at abattoirs had found spinal cord still attached to cattle carcasses. Sir Kenneth's statement said: "These findings were referred to by him (Mr Meldrum) as `disappointing' and in my opinion in so doing he understated the importance of this information." But at today's hearing Sir Kenneth insisted his comments were not meant as a personal criticism of Mr Meldrum. He said: "Mr Meldrum and I always had a very close relationship and some of the comments in the press over the weekend have been unhelpful."
Nonetheless, he said he had been extremely worried, because the Government's health advice going back over more than five years had been based on the assumption the ban was working effectively. "The impression I had during that time was that the ban was in place and being properly policed," he said. "If I had had any concerns I would have acted in the way I did in 1995 and drawn it to the attention of ministers."
In November 1995 Sir Kenneth told the then Agriculture Minister Douglas Hogg he could no longer give assurances that banned material had not entered the human food chain. And he clashed with MAFF officials over advice given to ministers on how any public statement should be worded. "For me it was important the public were given all the information," he said.
In his written evidence Sir Kenneth said farmers and slaughterhouse operators had taken an "astonishing attitude" towards safeguards imposed to stop potentially infective material entering the human food chain. Their attitude, he told the inquiry today, was in marked contrast to the speedy way the pharmaceutical industry had acted to remove bovine material from its products. He said: "The farming industry, and perhaps the slaughterhouse industry, didn't quite realise just how serious this might be for them, let alone public health."
He told the inquiry that the identification by scientists of "new variant" CJD in a cluster of patients under the age of 42 in March 1996, had been a "very difficult time". He said: "This was always a possibility and it was very, very difficult when it happened because we realised just where we were at that stage, particularly with the families, we were always concerned for them, and not knowing what the scale might be - we still don't.
"At that time there were numerous concerns, a very real anxiety about developing something we could tell the public which would give them the information that would allow them to make choices for themselves about beef."
Giving evidence alongside Sir Kenneth was Sir Graham Hart, permanent secretary at the Department of Health from March 1992 until November 1997. Sir Kenneth, who is now vice chancellor and warden at the University of Durham, and Sir Graham, both told the inquiry they had not altered their diets as a result of what is now known about BSE/CJD.
Tue, Oct 13, 1998 By Brendan Carlin, Political Correspondent, PA NewsThe Government today faced fresh pressure not to shelve plans for a new food watchdog. There have been reports that legislation to create the proposed Food Standards Agency will be delayed for at least a year. But the Liberal Democrats today turned up the heat on the Government to deliver.
And the party's rural affairs spokesman, Charles Kennedy, highlighted the claims from former Chief Medical Officer Sir Kenneth Calman at the official inquiry into the BSE affair yesterday. Sir Kenneth told the inquiry that Ministry of Agriculture officials had tried to play down fears over the potential threat posed by so-called "mad cow disease". Mr Kennedy today insisted that his evidence made a strong case for the Government to legislate on the new food body in the next Parliamentary year.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that Sir Kenneth's evidence "even standing alone, makes very strongly the case for ensuring that the Food Standards Agency legislation does appear in this year's Queen's Speech". He said there were currently "turf wars going on within Whitehall which at the end of the day are unlikely to be serving either the agricultural interests or the wider consumer interests".
Sir Kenneth yesterday also said that official advice during the early 1990s that British beef was "safe" to eat had not meant it posed no possible risk to human health. As Chief Medical Officer for England from 1991 until he stepped down last month, and before that Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, Sir Kenneth had repeatedly assured the public that British beef was safe to eat.
And he yesterday justified that advice to the BSE inquiry by saying "safe" did not necessarily mean "zero risk". Scientific evidence available at the time did not suggest a significant danger from eating beef, he added. But Sir Kenneth was today accused by Consumers' Association director Sheila McKechnie of playing games with words. She told the Today programme: "When you say to people something is safe, one takes it to mean there is a very, very small risk or no risk. "At that point in time, we had an unknown risk and nobody should have been reassuring the public that beef was safe." She also alleged that the farming industry and the Ministry of Agriculture had "put their interests before people's health".
The Chief Medical Officer's role needed looking at in the "widest constitutional sense because I don't think we can have this kind of secrecy, of people talking to other Departments, knowing there is a problem and actually not doing anything about it", she said. She added: "If we had a decent Freedom of Information Act and accessible government, we wouldn't be having this kind of problem."
PA News Tue, Sep 29, 1998 By Martha Linden, PA NewsThe Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food was encouraged to take legal action against abattoirs which were flouting the legislation on disposal of offal from cattle - but refused to do so, the BSE inquiry will be told today.
Don Curry, chairman of the Meat and Livestock Commission, says in written evidence that he suggested in 1995 that then Agriculture Minister Angela Browning made a "highly visible" example of an abattoir infringing the rules on disposal of offal. He tells the inquiry in his evidence, that he feared that if the rules were not properly enforced there could be a further loss of consumer confidence as investigative journalists highlighted the breaches.
He says his fears about the implementation of the offal ban - which included removing spinal cord and spleen - first surfaced in 1994 when he said rumours began to surface that abattoir practice "was not all it should be". He said: "As 1995 progressed I became concerned that persons found infringing abattoir hygiene regulations, including the specified bovine offal ban, were not being prosecuted.
"I encouraged Angela Browning, the Parliamentary Secretary of MAFF, in several private conversations to make a highly visible example of an abattoir operator infringing the requirements. It was my understanding that MAFF were reluctant to take legal action."
Mr Curry's views on the importance of the offal ban will be backed up in evidence from Colin Maclean, director general of the Meat and Livestock Commission. He says in written evidence that the MLC believed that there were "substantial" variations in the implementation of hygiene controls and charges by different local authorities. He said the MLC believed the ban was of "fundamental importance" in reassuring consumers about the safety of beef.
The MLC evidence comes after Peter Carrigan, a consultant meat technologist, told the inquiry yesterday that many abattoirs had failed to implement the offal ban properly throughout the period from its introduction in November 1989 to the creation of the Meat Hygiene Service in 1995.
PA News Tue, Sep 22, 1998 By Michael Greenwood, PA NewsMeat at risk of infection from BSE may have been allowed to enter the food chain as recently as 1995, according to a former senior government vet. Andrew Fleetwood reported in July 1995 that there was "widespread and flagrant infringement of the regulations". He also accuses government inspectors of failing to clamp down on the problem which, he says, continued after ministers had been warned.
In written evidence to be given to the BSE inquiry tomorrow he claims slaughterhouses and meat rendering plants ignored laws which required the removal of specified bovine offals, SBOs. These offals, believed to carry the BSE infective agents, were required to be removed from carcasses, stained to show they were not for consumption and disposed of.
Mr Fleetwood reports that because of concern that unscrupulous abattoirs were cheating SBO legislation a surveillance operation was set up. "My conclusion was that there was widespread and flagrant infringement of the regulations requiring staining of the SBOs," he says. "There were also problems of separation which, although less extensive, involved high-risk tissue and were of serious concern. "The result of most concern ... was the emergence of evidence that SBO was not being separated adequately from material for human consumption at slaughterhouses.
"My minute of 3 August 1995 sets out examples of this. The most concerning was a finding that spinal cord had not been fully removed from a carcase. This obviously had implications for human health. "Apart from the problems with removal of spinal cord, the second round of surveillance uncovered 81 instances where staining and separation was unsatisfactory. "I continued to receive reports, even after the intense programme of surveillance, that the industry was not complying with the SBO regulations.
"In a minute of 22 November 1995 ... I recorded information about a Dorset meat company where bins of fat had included bovine intestines. It was suggested that this had been done deliberately."
Reuters World Report Wed, Sep 30, 1998BRUSSELS - The Agriculture Ministry said on Wednesday a sixth case of mad cow disease had been confirmed in Belgium, at a dairy farm in in the northwest of the country. Agriculture Minister Karel Pinxten said in a statement the diagnosis of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was confirmed on Tuesday.
A veterinarian at the farm in Wervik in western Flanders near the border with France notified the ministry on September 14 of his suspicions, which were confirmed by subsequent tests. The Agriculture Ministry said it had notified the European Union and meanwhile the diseased five-year-old animal and the other 81 cows from the farm had been destroyed. The diseased cow had been born at the Wervik farm.
Two weeks ago Belgium confirmed the discovery of its fifth case of mad cow disease. The outbreak of BSE in Europe has been concentrated in Britain, where the fatal brain disease has been linked to the use of high-protein cattle feed. The European Union banned British beef exports after the government in March 1996 acknowledged a possible link between BSE and its fatal human equivalent, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
correspondence 4 Oct 98The Belgian minister of griculture made public that a sixth case of BSE was found. It was a dairy cow of 6 years old from a farm in Wervik. End August the farmer, Dirk Vannevele 37, contacted the vet because 1 of his 81 cows had a limp. Because the symptoms remained after an intervention of the vet he contacted the veterinary service of the Ministry of Agriculture 14 days later. This collected the cow, brought it to a destruction company where the brains were taken out for research and the rest of the cow was burned. Laboratory tests proved that BSE was the diagnosis.
AFP September 28, 1998
Agriculture Minister Nick Brown said: "This is a milestone for the British cattle industry." He added: "This new system will make it easier to trace cattle if there is a disease outbreak, and give greater assurance to those buying cattle about an animal's history. It is also a milestone for consumers, improving confidence in the food chain."
A Ministry of Agriculture spokeswoman said: "This is part and parcel of giving assurances to Europe that the national herd is safe and that all the conditions asked for have been met." A Limousin bull calf called Eddie was the first animal to be registered by the British Cattle Movement Service, which now employs 250 staff.
The European Union banned worldwide exports of British beef in March 1996 after the government admitted that there was a probable link between "mad cow" disease, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, and Creutzfeld-Jacob Disease, a fatal brain-wasting condition in humans. So far 27 people have died in Britain of the human variant of BSE, which was particularly prevalent among cattle in Britain.
Comments (JR Blanchfield):
"The wire agency and the journalist got the story completely garbled.
Compulsory Cattle Passports were introduced on 1 July 1996 in Great Britain and are required for all cattle (male and female, beef and dairy) born, or imported, from that date whether they stay on the farm or are sold. They are now compulsory under EU law.
5, 757, 319 cattle passports had been issued in Great Britain by 25 July 1998. Additionally, by 31 July 1998 there have been 1, 190, 498 calves moved off farms to slaughterhouses on special calf passports under the Calf Processing Aid Scheme.
What was inaugurated on 28 September 1998 was not cattle passports but a computerised Cattle Traceability Scheme (CTS). This was introduced under The Cattle Database Regulations which were laid before Parliament on 27 July 1998. Not only was such a CTS one of the conditions included in the Florence Agreement for the lifting of the ban on British beef but it is also an EU requirement for every Member State to have a CTS in place by December 1999. Tthere is a lengthy FAQ about cattle passports and the CTS scheme on the MAFF Website."
Andrew Fleetwood gave evidence on 23 September. The transcript does not yet appear on the Inquiry Web site, but his Statement of 15 September 1998 is there, and includes, in paragraph 65 onwards, the "inside story" of the SBO controls during 1995
109. A minute from a veterinary officer in the SVS, Leicester, of 6 November 1995 (YB 95/11.6/7.1) indicated continuing problems with failure to remove spinal cord, and, particularly, the stamping of carcases before the spinal cord is removed.
It means applying a stamp of approval applied to the actual carcass, which should, of course not have assumed anything, but have been done only after inspection and approval.
What became of spinal cords left in? They presumably entered the food chain. You may recall that at a later stage than Fleetwood is describing I reported here the results of Birmingham local enforcement authority's inspection of local retail butchers' shops when they found some instances of adhering bits of spinal cord.
In early 1996 there was a huge shake-up of the Meat Hygiene Service, and from July 1996 there have been monthly public BSE Enforcement Report and monthly Meat Hygiene Enforcement Report, with detailed statistics and the "HAS" scores under the Hygiene Assessment System of every individual named slaughterhouse. The August 1998 BSE Enforcement Report records that no cases have been found of spinal cord attached to bovine carcases since March 1996 -- 27th successive month.
But are some slaughterhouse operators browbeating inspectors into turning a blind eye? Your guess is as good as mine, but it is interesting to note that the August Reports include among the prosecutions a director of a slaughterhouse company found guilty of assaulting an Official Veterinary Surgeon while the latter was carrying out his duties; and on the same day in the same magistrates' court the same company was charged with offences under the SRM Regulations 1997, and was committed for trial. The was also another report of a slaughterman elsewhere assaulting and obstructing an OVS.
BTW it is interesting to note, from Fleetwood's documented account, that Keith Meldrum (Chief Veterinary Officer) was aware of the state of affairs described in 1995. I imagine that in the later phase of the Inquiry, Counsel Patrick Walker may inquire how possession of that knowledge.was reflected in his public pronouncements in that period."
David Brown, Agriculture Editor UK News Electronic Telegraph Tuesday 8 September 1998SCIENTISTS knew 10 years ago that BSE could have spread from cattle to sheep but research on suspect cases was not pursued, a senior veterinary researcher claimed yesterday.
Mad Sheep may also be infected with BSE
Dr Anthony Andrews, a former senior lecturer at the Royal Veterinary College in London, said he saw an unusual pattern of brain damage in four sheep from a farm in Essex around 1988. He concluded that mad cow disease could have passed into sheep - possibly through contaminated animal food.
Dr Andrews was speaking after the Government tried to play down a warning from one of its BSE advisers that the disease in sheep could pose a new "national emergency". The researcher said he felt that he was not encouraged to follow up his theory. He said: "I am not trying to blame anyone. It may be I was right at the time and we were seeing BSE in sheep. Or it could have been a novel strain of scrapie. I have since left the college and have no knowledge of what happened to the laboratory slides and the reports."
Dr Andrews left the college in January 1997 to become an independent consultant. His claim came after Prof Geoffrey Almond raised new fears over mutton and lamb yesterday.
Prof Almond is chairman of the sheep sub-committee of the Government body SEAC - the Spongiform Encephalopathies Advisory Committee. He said: "There is a distinct possibility that BSE is out there in the sheep population.
"But there are several ways of viewing that. One is to say it's been out there all the time and it could be that BSE has been in sheep for hundreds of years and does not cause a problem because it doesn't transmit from sheep to humans. If, on the other hand, it's sort of gone back into sheep from cows and then is behaving somehow differently from sheep scrapie then that could pose a risk to humans." He told BBC Radio 4's Farming Today: "If we found BSE in sheep it would be a national emergency."
As farmers responded angrily to the new BSE scare, Sir Kenneth Calman, Chief Medical Officer, issued a statement saying the SEAC had discussed the "theoretical possibility" of BSE in sheep at its July 30 meeting. As a precaution, the SEAC had previously recommended that certain tissues from the lamb carcass should be removed from the food chain. It concluded that "no further action to protect the public or animal health was necessary".
So far 27 people have died from a new form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease which has been linked to BSE. Until now, it has been assumed that cattle were to blame if indeed the victims did contract the fatal disease from eating meat. Now there is a question mark over the safety of mutton and lamb.
BSE, first recognised as a fatal, new brain disease in 1986, is believed by many scientists to have been caused when cattle were fed rations containing the remains of sheep infected with a similar disease called scrapie. But sheep were also fed rations containing meat and bone meal - a practice now banned in the UK.
Dr Andrews said: "The case on the Essex farm about 1988-89 was unusual. We were not looking for BSE or for scrapie. We were trying to find out what was making these sheep ill. Post-mortem tests showed they had scrapie-like lesions in the brain. But the pattern of these lesions was not what you would expect from scrapie.
"In addition, the sheep did not display normal scrapie symptoms when they were alive. They were not rubbing themselves against something in the way scrapie-affected sheep often do. They stood, trembling. I now believe that we are talking about yesterday's problem.
"I wish more notice had been taken of these findings at the time but subsequent control measures on cattle and sheep taken by the Government in the wake of BSE have ensured that the risk to humans from eating UK sheepmeat is infinitesimal. We are now five generation of sheep on since we made these findings. I would have expected any major health problem to have surfaced by now."
He has submitted written details of his work to the public inquiry into the BSE epidemic which resumes in London tomorrow. But Prof Lance Lanyon, principal and dean of the Royal Veterinary College, said neither he nor colleagues at the time could remember any research by Dr Andrews showing unusual brain lesions in sheep.
28 August 1998: Disease could be spread by surgical tools 18 July 1998: £70m plan to screen blood for CJD 8 July 1998: BSE bill expected to top £3.5bn by 2000 19 June 1998: Ministry had plan to use BSE 'spies' 27 December 1997: Survey to see if BSE has infected sheep 11 December 1997: New danger is lamb on bone, say scientists 25 July 1996: Controls on sheep to be tighter after BSE scare 23 July 1996: Lamb chops threatened by BSE ban
PA News Tue, Sep 8, 1998 By Elisa Crawford, PA NewsThe BSE inquiry was resuming today amid fresh fears that the disease may have infected sheep as well as cattle. Top civil servants, private sector industries and relatives of new variant CJD victims are due to give evidence during the next phase of the hearing in Lambeth North, London, this autumn.
The witness list includes the Government's chief medical officer, Dr Kenneth Calman, who in 1994 attacked "irresponsible" newspaper reports claiming 16-year-old girl might have caught CJD after eating a contaminated burger. Other high ranking officials due to appear are former chief medical officer Sir Donald Acheson, former permanent secretary at the Department of Health, Sir Christopher France, and former chief veterinary officer, Mr Howard Rees.
The inquiry, which was set up to review the emergence and response to BSE and CJD, will then hear from government ministers, who served during the height of the crisis, in November and December. Consumers have been hit by further confusion this week after government BSE expert Professor Jeffrey Almond warned there was a "distinct possibility" that BSE existed among Britain's flock of 42 million sheep.
The warning came as EU ministers moved to step up safety measures and after the Consumers' Association called for Government advice against young children eating lamb and other sheep meat because of fears. But the Government has stressed there is no scientific evidence of BSE in sheep.
The inquiry, which started in March under the chairmanship of Appeal Court judge Sir Nicholas Phillips, was resuming today after a four week break. Two top government scientists from the Agricultural and Development Advisory Service, Professor Ronald Bell and Dr Peter Bunyan, were due to speak today. Former chief veterinary officer William Rees will give evidence tomorrow.
Opinion piece submitted by Robert Roussel, 15 Oct 98"Following my son's death to CJD, I have researched the subject of cadaveric dura mater transplants to great lengths as a vehicle to transmit CJD. The products use is widespread and I was surprised to find out it was used a lot in other kind of surgeries. Lyodura, which is a brand name, has the worst track record for their production of cadaveric dura mater. The medical community has found the product unsafe, have theoretically tied the product to many CJD victims. The manufacturer, B. Braun Melsungen in Germany, claims it has never been proven yet in a court of law, or by the medical community, their Lyodura product carried the prion and has transmitted CJD. I think their statement is accurate. Proving it without a doubt is no small feat and the medical community has never taken the steps to do that. CJD is still a big unknown. On the other hand, the company cannot prove their facilities and products are free of prions therefore apart from the Lyodura itself, it also raises other possibilities of IATROGENIC TRANSMISSION BY SURGICAL INSTRUMENTS."
"One of the things that really bother me is they produced dura mater from 1969 to 1996. Up to 1987 they had a pooled manufacturing process. According to their figures, they sold a million units worldwide. We all read about prions, how you cannot destroy them through autoclaving, they withstand heat, they withstand time, there are no chemicals found so far to destroy them. You have this company which had all kinds of instruments and personnel come into contact with prions, which also manufactures numerous other medical devices most of them that comes in direct contact with the central nervous system. They are the 14th largest suppliers to hospitals and clinics around the world, a major portion of their sales are in North America."
"I am not a rocket scientist but read the definition of IATROGENIC. If you ever worked in a manufacturing facility, equipment, instruments, gets move around. I don't know if the FDA/Health Canada among others, has ever questioned this, sometimes the obvious gets passed them. I know they have questioned themselves in FDA TSE Committee Meetings. I don't know if they ever asked this manufacturer, of instruments they still import, to give some kind of statement to the effect they never moved a single piece of equipment from the dura mater manufacturing location of their facilities to another. Maybe they made a major discovery on how to decontaminate instruments. Maybe it is time government agencies do their jobs properly and protects their citizens. You be the judge of how safe instruments are before they use them on you SEE LIST BELOW. In the future, I for one will not count on government agencies to protect myself and will ask the famous question, who manufactured these instruments you are going to use on me or my family. I hope you will also take the necessary steps to protect yourself."
"To all of you which has lost somebody to CJD and it was classified under SPORADIC, and are so afraid that it was familial, look at my example in the paragraph above and maybe you have grounds to continue trying to come up with answers. You rightly deserve answers to your questions by the organizations that are there to protect us.
"Here is a list of products they advertise on their web site:
"Abdominal Surgery, Administration Set, Anaesthesia, Regional, Anaesthetics, Angiography, Arthroscopy, Arthroscopy, Aspiration, intraoperative and postoperative, Bandage materials, Biopsies, Bioreactors, Bladder Drainage, Blood administration Set, Blood Bank, Blood coagulation, Blood taking equipment and laboratory supplies, Blood tubing systems, Cannulas. cardiological peripheral urological, Cardiology, Cardiovascular Surgery, Catheterization of the Vena Cava, Catheters, Catheters central venous, Central Venous Catheterization, Central venous catheters, Chronic wound treatment supplies, Clinical nutrition, Coagulation therapy, Connective tissue implants, Continuous epidural and caudal Anaesthesia Sets, Continuous interpleural Analgesia catheter Sets, Craniofacial Surgery, Customer-specific Sets, Cystometrie, Dental, Dental Instruments, Dermatology, Diabetic care, Dialysis, Dialysis concentrates, Dialysis technology, Dialysis units, Disinfectants, Disinfection and hygiene, Drainage, Electrophysiology, Emergency systems, Endoprosthesis, Endoscopy, Engineering and process technology for bioreactors, ENT, Enteral feeding, Epidural Anaesthesia Sets, Extracorporeal blood treatment, Fermentation and peripheral equipment, Fibrinolytic agents, Filter products, Fine Dosage, Fine-Dosage Syringe, Flexible Organization and Communication System for Infusion Therapy, General Surgery, Gynaecology, Haemostasis, Haemostatic felt, Hand Surgery, Hemodynamics, Hemofiltration solutions, Heparin , HF Surgery, Hip- and knee-joint prostheses, Home care products, Hygiene supplies, Hypodermic Needles, I.V. Administration Sets, I.V. Cannulae, Incontinence care , Infusion pumps and equipment, Infusion solutions, Infusion therapy, Infusion units and equipment, Initial Puncture, Injection paraphernalia, Injection solutions and concentrates, Insulin Syringe, Interpleural Analgesia, Irrigation solution, Irrigation Syringe, Laboratory and blood-taking equipment, Laboratory equipment for microbiology and chemistry, Laboratory supplies, LMW heparin, Local hemostyptic agents, Long-term Infusion, Microsurgical sutures, Minimally-Invasive Surgery, Miscellaneous, Monitoring Sets (CVP), Motor Systems, Multilumen Catheter, Neddles for Epidural Anaesthesia, Neddles for Spinal Anaesthesia, Neddles, hypodermic, Nerve Stimulator for Plexus Anaesthesia, Nerve Stimulators, Neurosurgery, Nutrition (enteral/parenteral), Oncology, Opthalmology, Orthopaedics, Osteosynthesis, Ostomy care, Outpatient infusion therapy, Oxygen therapy, Pain therapy, Patient Controlled Analgesia (PCA), Percutaneous Liver Biopsy, Percutaneous Liver Biopsy Set, Percutaneous Nephrostomy, Percutaneous Nephrostomy Sets, Peritoneal dialysis Peritoneal lavage, Plasmapheresis, Pleurocentesis and pleural drainage, Plexus Anaesthesia Products, Port catheter systems, Portable Syringe Pumps, Practice supplies and hygiene products, Pressure Monitoring, Process automation, Retrograde or Antegrade Ureteric Stent Sets, Retrograde Urethrographie, Sets for Combined Spinal / Epidural Anaesthesia, Skin closure, Special products for outpatient surgery, Spinal column implants and instruments, Spine, Spine Surgery, Sterilcontainer System, Sterile supply and disposal containers, Stopcock Systems, Suprapubic Bladder Drainage Sets, Suprapubic Urine Drainage, Surgical instruments, Surgical Instruments and Special Disciplines, Surgical suture material, Syringes, Tissue glue, TIVA, Transfusion Therapy,Transfusion Units and equipment, Transurethral Kidney Drainage, Traumatology, Ultrasonic guided Fine Needle Biopsy Set, Ureteral Stent Sets, Ureteric Stenting, Urine Drainage, Urology, Vascular grafts, Vascular prostheses, Venipuncture Vessel replacement, Veterinary, Veterinary and equipment for vascular surgery, Volume replacement therapy, Wound care, Wound closure , Wound drainage."
"Please note I might have made a typo mistake on some of the products
mentioned above, the proper names are identified on their web site."
Electronic Telegraph, by David Brown, Wed 23 Sep 1998Emergency BSE controls designed to prevent people and animals [from] eating infected beef and offal were flouted for years by the meat industry, according to a former senior Government vet who investigated working practices in abattoirs. A statutory ban on Specified Bovine Offals [SBO] - -- the term for the highest risk materials including brain, spleen and spinal cord -- from the human and animal food chain was treated "as a joke" by some in the meat industry, Andrew Fleetwood, a former Ministry of Agriculture expert in animal diseases, claims in a statement to the BSE inquiry.
Yet these controls, which were introduced in 1989, together with a ban on using rendered ruminant animal protein in animal food, were regarded by the Government as its "first line of defence" against the spread of BSE, which has since been linked to the deaths of 27 people from a new variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
The former vet says that instead of removing and staining SBOs for destruction to prevent them being eaten by mistake, some abattoirs allowed them to leave the premises either attached to carcasses or in unmarked batches of waste destined to be processed into meat and bone meal. The importance of these controls was reinforced in the light of experiments in 1996-97 indicating that rendering processes for animal waste were not potent enough to kill the BSE agent.
Mr Fleetwood, who will be questioned at the inquiry in London today, tells how one meat industry consultant warned MAFF in June 1995, nine months before the beef crisis broke, that "unscrupulous abattoirs had cheated and would continue to cheat the SBO legislation and that it was little better than a joke in certain quarters of the industry." On the basis of his own inquiries and knowledge, that "there was likely to be deliberate evasion of the SBO controls in the industry".
He also tells how, by late 1995, ministers and senior MAFF staff, including Keith Meldrum, the chief veterinary officer, were becoming "greatly concerned" that the SBO restrictions were not working properly despite efforts to tighten them. They were also worried about lack of enforcement by the Meat Hygiene Service.
He said he was "puzzled" why "widespread and serious breaches" of the SBO controls had not been picked up earlier in spot checks by Government vets. Mr Fleetwood said: "My suspicion was that staff from the State Veterinary Service inspecting slaughterhouses were often quite junior and easily browbeaten by the slaughterhouse managers. I also had doubts about the extent to which these visits were truly unannounced, as they were supposed to be."
He was concerned about incidents where offals were not stained properly - -- sometimes because the wrong kind of dye was used. An older type of black dye could perish and disappear after 48 hours, making it impossible to identify which offals had been marked. But when the ministry, at his instigation, prescribed a more efficient blue dye -- known as Patent Blue V -- some abattoirs did not use it.
Despite tighter surveillance further breaches of the regulations continued to come to light, which he set out in a report to the Government in October 1995. The report said: "This showed a continuing high failure rate at slaughterhouses which I found very disappointing. Although I was largely satisfied with the way in which the SVS staff were carrying out surveillance, I was concerned about the attitude of the industry and also the effectiveness of enforcement by the Meat Hygiene Service."
Mr Fleetwood left MAFF in 1996 to take up a post in research and development in the pharmaceutical industry.
October 5, 1998 Food Regulation Weekly Volume 1, Number 46The analysis of USDA's measures to detect and prevent bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), being conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, should be broadened to include all transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), according to Consumers Union.
Representing CU at a Sept. 28 public meeting on the issue in Arlington, Va., Dr. Michael Hansen urged the department not to restrict the work to "British-style BSE," but to characterize the hazards of BSE and other TSE agents to human and animal health. He noted that a number of TSEs, including scrapie in sheep, chronic wasting disease in mule deer and elk, and transmissible mink encephalopathy (TME) are known to occur in the U.S.
In addition to the known TSEs, the non-profit group urged that the study look at the indirect evidence suggesting that an undiagnosed TSE occurs in U.S. Hansen urged that the study look at the indirect evidence that a TSE may have occurred in pigs in the U.S.