Japanese Mad Cow Test Positive

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's farm ministry said on Saturday that UK tests carried out on a Japanese cow suspected of having mad cow disease had proved positive.
This confirmed the first outbreak of the bovine brain-wasting disease in Asia.
A ministry spokesman told Reuters that the British laboratory that carried out the tests had informed Tokyo of the positive result a few hours earlier.
In a separate development, a farm in the Yamagata area north of Tokyo had been found to have given cattle meat-based feed that had originally been meant for poultry, the spokesman added.
Preliminary tests for mad cow disease on a five-year-old Holstein dairy cow at a farm in Chiba, bordering Tokyo, proved positive on September 10.
By last Wednesday the farm ministry had asked farmers not to ship cattle over 30 months old to slaughterhouses until a system to check for mad cow disease, or BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy), was in place.
The move, designed to soothe consumer concerns over food safety, was expected to further disrupt a meat market facing a sharp fall in retail demand following widespread news coverage of the BSE outbreak.
A meat industry expert said earlier this week that domestic beef sales, including imported beef, had fallen by about 20% in some supermarket chains.
BSE has been linked to a deadly human version of the disorder that has so far killed over 100 people in Europe.
The government on Tuesday banned the use of meat-based feed products for cattle. BSE is believed to be transmitted to animals via infected feed.
Since last week's discovery, the farm ministry has been investigating domestic plants producing compound feed for cattle to see if they are using meat-based ingredients, while some 5,800 animal health experts have been deployed to check 4.5 million cows nationwide.

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