- Europe took a drastic new step to end the consumer panic
over the spread of mad cow disease yesterday, by proposing a destruction
programme for up to two million cattle and a ban on all bone and animal
- The draconian measures follow the widespread consumer
panic that has spread from France to Spain and Germany, which confirmed
its first cases of BSE last week. They mark a substantial extension of
European Union measures to try to eliminate the still spreadingepidemic.
- "BSE is an EU-wide problem which requires EU-wide
answers. Firm action is required. We have to restore consumer confidence,"
said the European agriculture commissioner, Franz Fischler.
- David Byrne, the European commissioner for health and
consumer protection, warned that BSE threatened every EU country and that
the disease "does not know borders".
- Yesterday's EU measures, which are expected to be approved
by agriculture ministers when they meet on Monday in Brussels, means that
all meat from cattle over 30 months will be removed from the food chain
unless they have been tested BSE free.
- Britain wants even tougher standards because BSE tests
only pick up the disease in its later stages. In Parliament yesterday,
the head of the Food Standards Agency warned that French controls may not
be sufficient to prevent BSE-infected beef reaching Britain. Sir John Krebs
told MPs that there was a risk that BSE-infected beef, particularly in
processed foods, such as salami, could be reaching the UK.
- He said that he did not believe that France's controls
were "100 per cent watertight". There was likely to have been
"under reporting" of BSE cases in France early on and that protection
of British consumers depended on "an element of trust" of France's
authorities, Sir John said.
- The new EU measures are expected to come into effect
on 1 January. From that point older cattle will either have to be tested,
after being slaughtered, or disposed of under the new scheme.
- Meanwhile, meat and bone-based animal feed, blamed for
spreading the disease, will be banned for use with all animals. A number
of countries, including Germany, resisted this until last week because
there is no evidence that it is harmful to poultry or pigs. However, most
governments now concede that it has been impossible to stop farmers ignoring
- The FSA will review its advice on the safety of French
beef after next week's five-day inspection visit by EU veterinary and scientific
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