Mad Cow Checks Find Banned
Tissue In UK Carcasses

LONDON (Reuters) - Veterinarians monitoring Britain's tough anti-BSE measures found three cases last year of banned material in cattle and sheep carcasses which had been passed fit to eat, a national food safety watchdog said on Friday.
The Food Standards Agency said sections of spinal cord, one of the most potentially infective parts of cattle, even if signs of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) are not visible, was discovered in two cows and one sheep carcass.
Anti-BSE measures have been applied to British sheep because of the theoretical risk that, like cattle, they too could be infected with ``mad cow'' disease.
A spokesman for the agency said the cases were the only such incidents in Britain since 1996, when the probable link between BSE and the human brain wasting disorder variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease (vCJD) was revealed.
``Investigations into the breaches show these are isolated incidents,'' he said. ``In each of the cases there was no risk because the carcasses did not enter the food chain.''
Other safety measures, such as the banning of meat and bone meal in cattle feed and rules preventing cattle over 30 months old getting into the food chain, greatly reduced the risk to humans, he added.
Over 80 people have died of vCJD in Britain and two have died in France. Cases of BSE, which surfaced in Britain in 1986, have now been confirmed in France, Ireland, Portugal, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain.
The Guardian newspaper quoted representatives of British victims as saying the breaches showed there was no room for complacency.
``I have always thought there was scope for BSE-infected material to enter food and this goes to show that any attempt to let the industry regulate itself would be beyond belief,'' a victims' spokesman, Malcolm Tibbert, told the paper.

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