Germany confirms its first BSE case

Europe's mad cow disease crisis spreads
Click to follow
The Independent Online

A cow born and slaughtered in Germany has tested positive for mad-cow disease for the first time, authorities said today in a blow to longstanding German claims that home-grown cattle are BSE-free.

A cow born and slaughtered in Germany has tested positive for mad-cow disease for the first time, authorities said today in a blow to longstanding German claims that home-grown cattle are BSE-free.

The cow was tested after its slaughter in the town of Itzehoe on Wednesday, authorities in Schleswig-Holstein state said. The probability of error in the preliminary test on the animal, born in 1996, was between 5 percent and 10 percent, they said.

German testing had previously only detected the brain-wasting disease in animals imported from Britain and Switzerland. Scientists believe infected meat could be the cause of a similar ailment in humans, the usually fatal Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.

The announcement overshadowed a government bid to head off growing public alarm at the spread of the disease in Europe when it announced today it wants to ban the use of meat and bone meal in all animal feed.

A ban should be implemented "as soon as possible," said Sigrun Neuwerth, a spokeswoman for Agriculture Minister Karl-Heinz Funke. The new regulations must first be approved by lawmakers in the upper house of parliament, where Germany's 16 states are represented.

Germany outlawed the use of the meal in cattle feed in 1994. That ban would now be extended to feed for other animal feeds including pigs and poultry. Funke had previously insisted that Germany's stringent treatment of meat and bone meal for feeding to animals made it safe.

New cases of mad cow disease in countries including France, which banned the use of meat and bone meal in animal feed earlier this month, have made consumers across Europe concerned about possible health risks from eating meat, especially beef.

German officials have said they don't have any plans to ban the importation of beef from other countries, but have demanded clearer labeling on beef from Britain, where more than 80 people have died of the human form of the disease.

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy is believed to have originated in Britain when cattle were given feed containing the ground remains of sheep infected with a brain ailment. That practice is now banned throughout the European Union.

Comments