Brit Mad Cow Contaminated
Feed Said To Have Reached
70 Countries

LONDON (UPI) - Animal feed protein contaminated with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (also known as BSE or mad cow disease) is estimated to have reached 70 countries through exports by a British company, press accounts reported Sunday.
London's Sunday Times said the protein, extracted from meat and bones, was exported despite a ban on its use in cattle and sheep feed as far back as 1988, when government scientists first identified it as the likely cause of BSE.
More than 80 people have died in Britain, and several are seriously ill after eating BSE-infected beef and contracting the ailment's human form, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease and its variant, known as vCJD. Britain slaughtered more than 4.5 million cattle suspected of carrying BSE, and still bans cows that are more than 30 months old from entering the food chain.
Official documents cited by the news media said the protein was exported to 70 countries as part of animal feed by Britain's largest processor of offal and carcasses unfit for human consumption. Prosper de Mulder, based in Doncaster in northern England, told the Sunday Times the animal feed was exported on the clear understanding that it would be used only for pig and poultry food. But it acknowledged that the material could be mixed up with cattle feed. "Twenty-twenty hindsight is a wonderful thing," Paul Foxcroft, a spokesman, told the newspaper. "In 1988, nobody had any idea of the seriousness of BSE."
The protein was banned for use in cattle and sheep feed in 1988, but it remained legal for export to supplement pig and poultry food right up to 1996, when the European Union banned all exports of the product British customs figures cited by the news media showed that more than 200,000 tons of pig and poultry feed, including meat and bone meal, was exported to 70 countries between 1988 and 1996. The statistics do not specify how much of the feed was meat and bone meal, but Prosper de Mulder estimated that it would have been up to half. Scientists have said that infected material the size of just one peppercorn can transmit BSE to a cow.
Importers of the feed outside Europe have included Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Lebanon, Malta, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Thailand. Andrew Speedy, a United Nations officer, warned that the Middle East, eastern Europe and north Africa had the highest exposure to mad cow disease. A statement from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization urged all countries that imported cattle or animal feed from western Europe, especially Britain, to be concerned about the risk of BSE, and vCJD.
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