UK Cattle Still Being Fed
Cannibal Diet! - New BSE
Case Confirmed
By Michael Lea - Political Correspondent
Many British cows are still on cannibal diets despite the BSE crisis, it was revealed yesterday.
They are eating 22,000 tons of cattle blood, fat and gelatin every year.
Meat and bone remains were banned from cattle feed in 1996 after being linked to BSE, or mad cow disease. But other waste including blood escaped the sanctions.
Now scientists are alarmed by the discovery of a BSE case in Devon in a cow born AFTER the 1996 ban. Tests are being carried out on another seven carcasses of animals under four years old that showed signs of BSE.
The Government yesterday played down fears of a new crisis.
But Professor John Collinge - who has advised Prime Minister Tony Blair on the disease - warned: "All cannibalistic recycling is potentially dangerous. I have said that repeatedly.
"After our experiences with BSE, we should be taking a much more cautious approach."
Earlier this year, agriculture minister Baroness Hayman said in a statement: "Gelatin and blood products are exempt from the feed ban in both EC and UK legislation.
"Such materials are not widely used in animal feed in the UK."
But the new figures reveal much wider use of cow parts.
Yesterday Harriet Kimble, who sits on the government advisory body on BSE, said: "We were assured that there is no infectivity in blood so we allowed renderers to use it in feedstuffs.
"If it is shown blood can transmit the infection, we will have to reverse that decision."
A Ministry of Agriculture spokesman claimed there was an "informal ban" on bovine blood. He said the Meat and Livestock Commission and feed producers had agreed to use only PIG BLOOD in a bid to reduce the risk.
The spokesman added: "There is only one confirmed case of BSE which was announced in July. It was suspected to be a case of maternal transmission. Our experts are looking at any number of other animals, but until they have been confirmed, they are not BSE."
Mad cow disease, first identified in 1985, was traced to feed containing cow parts and sheep brains infected with scrapie.
It crippled British agriculture for years and the industry is still reeling from the fall-out.
France and Germany still ban imports of British beef.
Some 175,000 BSE-infected cattle were slaughtered and another 4.8million killed as a precaution.
The ban on the use of cows' brains, offal, spines and bones has been rigorously enforced in the hope newborn animals would be free from the disease.
This year over 850 cows born before 1996 have been diagnosed with BSE.

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