BSE Four Times Worse
Than Believed In France
By Ian Sparks in Paris
A national programme of BSE tests on French cattle has revealed mad cow disease is up to four times more prevalent than had been previously thought.
However, a French agriculture ministry spokesman said: "Just because we have BSE in France, it does not make British meat any safer.
"We will comment when the entire programme is completed. Whatever the results, it does not mean we will be lifting our import embargo on British beef."
Early findings of France's nationwide survey have found between 1.5 and two cows per 1,000 are infected. It could mean more than 1,000 of the three million cows eaten in France every year are contaminated.
The programme, which began in June, will see 48,000 cattle tested by December. The preliminary findings were leaked to a French newspaper by vets connected with the project. A source revealed: "The early results basically suggest beef is not as safe to eat in France as we lead ourselves to believe."
France banned nerve tissue, ground bone and other organs from being used in French cattle feed in 1990, hoping a diet of uncontaminated meal would eventually eradicate the disease.
They also introduced tough culling measures in 1996, killing the whole herd if a single cow caught BSE.
France is facing prosecution in the European court after refusing to obey a Brussels ruling to lift its embargo on British beef a year ago.
This Site Served by TheHostPros