- WASHINGTON (AP) - Fears that mad cow disease could cross the Atlantic Ocean prompted
federal officials to ban imports of all cattle, sheep and related products
from Europe until the risk is fully assessed.
- Previously, the Agriculture Department
had restricted imports of cattle, sheep and many products such as fresh
meat and bone meal, from nine European countries where the disease was
known to exist. The action announced Friday expands that ban to other
- In 1996, the United States imported about
381,000 metric tons of beef and veal from Europe and about 114,000 metric
tons of lamb and mutton, according to the American Meat Institute.
- ``We made this decision to protect human
and animal health, to protect the security of our export markets, and to
protect the safety and integrity of our food supply,'' said Michael V.
Dunn, assistant agriculture secretary for marketing and regulatory programs.
- No case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy
- the proper name of the neurological disorder fatal in cattle - has ever
been reported in the United States. Eating meat from cattle tainted by
the disease is believed to cause the brain-wasting Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
in humans, which has killed at least 20 people, mostly in Britain.
- Dunn said the decision to expand the
import restrictions came after two animals diagnosed with mad cow disease
in Belgium and Luxembourg went into the animal food processing system.
In addition, British scientists earlier this month discovered that the
disease can infect additional parts of the animals, including bone marrow.
- ``This import policy is science-based
and consistent'' with international guidelines, Dunn said.
- The Agriculture Department will lift
the import restrictions for any country that shows it has a mad cow surveillance
program that conforms to international standards and contains adequate
controls for imports, Dunn added.
- European Union officials in Washington
did not return telephone calls seeking comment Friday night.