Britain Seizes Polish Beef
Over 'Mad Cow' Risk


LONDON (Reuters) - British inspectors have discovered that some beef imported from Poland breached rules designed to fight the spread of "mad cow" disease, officials said on Thursday.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said two batches of beef from cutting plants in Poland had spinal cord attached--parts of the carcass most likely to carry mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).
Britain has discovered 26 consignments of potentially risky beef from other countries in the European Union since January 1, 2001. The Polish cases were the first from a country outside the European Union, the agency said.
The EU, hit by an increasing number of BSE cases, has agreed to remove certain cattle parts--called specified risk material (SRM)--from beef. It also began to test older cattle for the disease.
"Any find of SRM is illegal and a serious matter. There is no risk to public health, as the affected meat has been removed from the food chain," FSA veterinary director Debby Reynolds said.
Britain, which first detected BSE in herds in 1986, has been blamed for exporting the disease and triggering consumer panic in other European countries over the spread of the disorder and its deadly human form, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD).
More than 100 people, mostly in Britain, have died or are believed to be suffering from vCJD, which is thought to be caused by eating contaminated meat products.
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