- DUBLIN - An Irish firm has developed a new testing method which could
reduce from two weeks to two hours the time it takes to determine if cattle
carcasses are contaminated with BSE, the firm announced Saturday.
- Michael O'Connor, a vet and technical
director of Enfer Scientific, said field trials of the new testing procedures
were complete and they were now in a position to test 14,000 cattle a
day for BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy), otherwise known as "mad
- He said the test, which would cost about
$33 per carcass, takes two hours instead of the normal two weeks. It would
add about 10 cents to the retail price of meat.
- Samples from the slaughtered animals
in all 29 meat factories in Ireland could be delivered to Enfer and tested
within a maximum of 6 to 7 hours. The results would be faxed back, allowing
infected animals to be removed before they went through the 15 hour chilling
cycle in the plants and entered the food chain.
- The new test would mean meat could be
sold as guaranteed BSE-free, for the first time.
- O'Connor told Irish RTE TV that the development
could mean the end of the BSE problem. He said he had not announced the
completion of the company's trials until now as he wanted to be sure they
were completely successful.
- "I didn't want any false promises.
If the Agriculture Minister drops the flag on Monday morning, we could
start by Thursday," he said.
- He said that if the testing system was
implemented, Irish cattle would have "the highest status in the EU.
They would be prime stock."
- He said they tested for the prion infective
agent and a 10 digit bar code system had been developed to keep check on
each carcass tested. "We will know what day it was killed, what factory
is was in and what carcass number it was. End of story."
- Special safety procedures have been developed
and instruments designed to extract samples from the animals central nervous
tissue and the brain.
- Enfer is a seven year old high-tech company
which specialises in a variety of animal testing.
- It employs over 30 and has laboratories
in Dublin and Cashel. A third laboratory was set up for the BSE test field
- It is a private company set up by O'Connor,
a vet, and Louis Ronan, a meat factory owner.
- Enfer has tested over 300,000 cattle
carcasses for the presence of "Angel Dust" - the illegal growth
promoter Clembuterol - over the past three years and the new BSE test was
an adaptation of the technology they had been using.
- When the test was first developed earlier
this year, the Irish agriculture minister welcomed it as a "significant