Mad Cow Panic Spreading
Throughout Europe
By Pamela Sampson

PARIS - Panic over mad cow disease swept Europe on Wednesday, with French chefs abandoning beef specialties, Italian schools cutting beef from menus and French leaders convening emergency meetings.
The European Union even stepped in, warning European governments to intensify safety controls so infected beef does not make its way to stores, restaurants and kitchens.
To help allay the spreading concern, EU Health Commissioner David Byrne proposed extending testing for the disease to include millions of older animals. The EU already has a plan in place to extend annual testing to some 170,000 animals next year.
"The public needs reassurance that controls already in place are effected," Byrne told the European Parliament in Strasbourg. "Extensive testing now appears to be the most effective means of providing such reassurance."
The EU also attempted to restore consumer confidence by saying the rise in confirmed cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, among French herds was largely due to improved testing rather than any spread of the fatal brain-wasting ailment.
Scientists suspect BSE is linked to a similar human malady, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. Two people have died of variant CJD in France, compared to more than 80 in Britain.
Public anxiety has taken a firm hold in France, where chefs abandoned gastronomic favorites like boeuf bourguignon. On Tuesday, the government banned the T-bone steak - just days after banning sweetbreads, a delicacy made from a cow's thymus gland. According to the EU, beef consumption is down as much as 40 percent.
Outside France, the scare has stirred not only fear but resentment in countries whose beef has been boycotted by France because of mad cow disease.
About 200 farmers in Lausanne, Switzerland, angrily protested a policy that allows cows from France to be imported, then slaughtered and sold as Swiss beef.
"Four years ago, when we were affected by mad cow disease, France boycotted us," protest organizer Philippe Curchod was quoted as saying by the daily Le Matin. "Now ... the French can export hundreds of cows without any problem."
Britain, too, has a bone to pick with the French: While an EU ban on British beef was lifted last year after a raft of safety measures, France has continued to bar British beef.
Conservative Party lawmaker Tim Yeo urged the British government to ban French beef.
"The agriculture minister's refusal to stand up to his French counterpart shows once again that he is more interested in protecting French farmers than British consumers," Yeo said.
Gian Paolo Angelotti, president of an Italian butchers organization, said Wednesday that beef sales had decreased 10 percent in Italy, the ANSA news agency reported.
By Wednesday, over 30 Italian municipalities had banned beef from school menus, and the government issued a ban on livestock feed containing meat. Spain has banned imports of French breeding cattle.
Some 90 cases of BSE have been found in France this year compared to 31 cases in 1999. Increases have also been detected in Ireland and Belgium, although at a lower rate, the EU said.
The French cases pale in comparison with the mad cow outbreak in Britain, where some 180,000 cattle were affected, causing the EU to ban British beef exports in 1996.
France stepped up its safety controls Tuesday with a ban on the use of animal-based feed for all livestock.

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