- LONDON (Reuters) - European
mad cow disease experts have criticised Slovenia for labelling a case of
the brain-wasting illness as a rare spontaneous type, with one scientist
saying the explanation was "complete garbage".
They dismissed Slovenia's statement that its first reported case of mad
cow disease, in a five-year-old cow, was a type that occurred spontaneously
in nature, saying the cow most likely ate contaminated animal feed imported
"It's complete garbage. They will have caught it from Britain,"
Dr Stephen Dealler, a microbiologist who has worked on mad cow disease
since 1988, told Reuters on Thursday.
"It will have come from exports from the UK either of the material
which is used to feed the cow, or from making feed from the remnants of
another cow which was slaughtered before...They shouldn't have said it."
Officials in Slovenia said the diseased cow had never been fed with meat-and-bone
meal -- feed made from crushed up animal carcasses which has been blamed
by scientists for spreading mad cow disease or BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy).
The director of Slovenia's Veterinary Office said the cow was also from
a Slovenian breed and not imported from Britain, which first detected the
disease in 1986 but continued to export live cattle and animal feed to
Europe and other countries.
But European Union officials said it was most likely that the cow had eaten
feed contaminated with the disease.
Beate Gminder, spokeswoman for EU food safety commissioner David Byrne,
said there were other theories about how BSE was transmitted but most scientists
believed it was carried in meat-and-bone meal and was related to an disease
in sheep, called scrapie.
"There are other theories but all the scientific evidence points to
contaminated meat-and-bone meal as being the likely cause of BSE,"
she said at a conference in Brussels called "From farm to fork".
But she said there was no risk to humans as Slovenia was adhering to European
Union measures, which ensure the most risky cattle parts -- specified risk
material (SRM) -- are removed from consignments destined for supermarket
"There is no problem because all the imports into the EU have to conform
with our BSE legislation," she said.
"The best possible protection for the consumer is the removal of all
- Copyright © 2001 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.
Republication or redissemination of the contents of this screen are expressly
prohibited without the written consent of Reuters Limited