- PARIS (AFP) - French cows
are still eating feed with low levels of meat in them, despite a ban imposed
in 1990 because of the risk of transmitting BSE, or mad cow disease, a
French daily reported Friday.
- The DGCCRF, the French body monitoring competition, consumer
affairs and fraud, acknowledged that it tolerated levels of up to 0.3 percent
meat in cattle feed, Liberation reported.
- It cited a 1998 ruling from the European scientific committee
based in Brussels, which allowed levels of up to 0.5 percent of contamination
in vegetable feeds to justify its position.
- Jacques Michard, deputy director of the DGCCRF's laboratory,
which analyses cattle feed, confirmed its position to AFP.
- "The European scientific committee allows up to
0.5 percent, but we are below that, since our quantitative limit is 0.3
percent," he said.
- The agriculture ministry refused to comment Friday, except
to repeat that the ban on feed containing meat was total so far as cattle
- Professor Jeanne Brugere-Picoux, a specialist in infectious
diseases, said the continuing presence of meat traces in cattle feed could
be explained by the delivery process.
- The contamination could take place when the feed was
being transported in lorries, where the transport had not been properly
cleaned, she suggested.
- "Theoretically, the flour used in France must be
prepared according to French regulations," she said.
- A spokesman for the SNIA, the national union representing
half of France's animal feed industry, stressed that the traces detected
came from meat that had been produced for human consumption.
- Consumer groups however called for the existing ban on
meat in animal feed to be extended from cattle feed to food for pigs, poultry,
trout and salmon.
- "We have always said that as long as animal feed
wasn't 100 percent safe, you had to eliminate it," said Vincent Perrot
of the CLCV consumer group.
- "We can't go on like this. Today, people are dying,
so let's stop playing with people's health," he added.
- Christian Huard, a spokesman for an alliance of seven
organisations grouped as Conso-France, asked: "In a farm that raises
cattle, pigs and chicken, how can you know if the famer is not giving the
same feed to them all?"
- He described the 0.3 percent tolerance level as a scandal.
- Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease,
can cause a form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a degenerative brain illness,
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