Beef Stunning Methods
Could Spread Mad
Cow Prions

LONDON (Reuters) - Abattoir methods can result in tiny bits of brain tissue being sent through cattle's bodies, increasing health risks if they are incubating mad cow disease (BSE), according to New Scientist magazine.
Haluk Anil and researchers at the University of Bristol in western England said the method of stunning cattle to immobilize them before slaughter meant brain tissue could get into an animal's jugular vein, and, in theory, move around the body in the few minutes the heart is still beating.
``This finding, which will renew fears about the safety of beef, comes at a bad time for the British government, which is currently battling to end French and German bans on the import of British beef,'' the magazine said.
The research has been presented to the government's Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee, which decided there was not enough evidence to change slaughterhouse practices, it added.
Anil and his team studied different stunning techniques. In a system used in the United States and Europe but not Britain, particles of brain tissue were found in the jugular veins of four out of 15 cattle.
In Britain most cattle are stunned in a different way and only one in 16 cattle had brain tissue in the jugular vein.
Britain has threatened to take its European neighbors to court over their continued ban on British beef. The European Union earlier this year lifted a ban imposed on British beef in 1996 after scientists said a new variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), the human equivalent of mad cow disease, might be linked to eating beef contaminated with bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE.