- GIESSEN, Germany (AFP) -
Some German cooked meats contain brain or spinal cord, raising questions
about the country's potential exposure to tissue types blamed for transmitting
the human form of "mad cow" disease, a scientist said Thursday.
- Ernst Luecker, a veterinary researcher at Giessen University,
said he had conducted more than 500 tests of local products, using artificial
antibodies to detect the presence of specific proteins found in the brain
and enzymes found in the spinal cord.
- Brain or spinal matter showed up in nine percent of liver
sausage and 15 percent of Mettwurst, also known as bologna, although blood
sausage and nearly all frankfurters were brain-free, he said.
- "We were surprised by how much brain and spinal
cord is used in sausage," Luecker told AFP. His research was reported
in Thursday's issue of the British weekly New Scientist.
- The discovery raises questions about food safety in Germany
in the light of the scare about bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE),
as "mad cow" disease is formally called, Luecker said.
- Food from cattle infected with BSE has been found to
be transmissible to humans, infecting them with a fatal brain disorder
known as new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
- Luecker stressed his study "does not mean that there
is now a BSE scare in Germany," and he noted that the tests were unable
to detect whether the tissues came from pigs or cows.
- Cow brains and spinal cord are banned from human food
products in many European countries because these are the tissues most
likely to carry BSE.
- Germany has refused to follow suit, insisting that its
cattle do not have BSE and contending that its meat goods do not make widespread
use of brain.
- It is not illegal to use brain in Germany. But Luecker,
in comments to New Scientist, said he also found brain in cooked meats
carrying the top-quality rating, which is supposed to be conferred only
on the finest ingredients.
- He also noted that Germany imports some of its sausage
meat from abroad.
- Use of brain tissue is "unacceptable with regard
to the development of new-variant CJD," he told the magazine. "If
there is any brain when the label says there should be none, we should
- Luecker said he devised the test method after discovering
that no-one had come up with a way to see if cooked meat product contained
- SIGHTINGS HOMEPAGE
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