- The Chief Medical Officer at the height
of the BSE crisis has accused officials from the Ministry of Agriculture
of misleading the public over the safety of eating British beef.
- In evidence submitted to the BSE inquiry,
Sir Kenneth Calman accuses officials of failing to understand the nature
of the crisis.
- Sir Kenneth, who issued many assurances
about the safety of beef, said officials knew as late as 1995 that contaminated
offal was being illegally processed in Britain's abattoirs.
- He said that if he had known that such
activity was taking place he would never have assured the public that British
beef was safe to eat.
- Douglas Hogg, the agriculture minister
during the period Sir Kenneth says safety procedures were being flouted,
refused to comment on the evidence.
- He said: "I have not seen his [Sir
Kenneth's] statement. I am not in a position to comment."
- BSE has subsequently been linked to new
variant CJD, a human form of the disease, which has claimed increasing
numbers of lives.
- Safety measures flouted
- Measures to prevent contaminated tissue
such as brain and spinal column passing through abattoirs and into the
human food chain were introduced in 1990.
- But Sir Kenneth told the inquiry that
the chief veterinary officer Keith Meldrum told him that, as late as 1995,
instances had been recorded of contaminated tissue passing into the human
- Sir Kenneth also told the inquiry that
just nine days before the then Health Secretary Stephen Dorrell told the
House of Commons of a link between BSE and a human form of CJD, the Ministry
of Agriculture had produced a leaflet saying British beef was safe to eat.
- Sir Kenneth said he had to stop publication
- In his evidence, Sir Kenneth said he
found the attitude of those responsible for removing contaminated tissue
from the human food chain "astonishing."
- Gerry Callaghan, whose 30-year-old brother
Maurice died of new variant CJD, condemned the fact that the public was
- He said: "At what stage in all of
this do we get an admission from individuals in goverment departments or
from government departments themselves that they are responsbible for these