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BSE: expert voices fears over sheep risk

BSE: expert voices fears over sheep risk

August 28, 2001 Press Association by Nick Mead

Current safeguards to protect consumers from the risk of sheep carrying BSE were condemned as "illogical, inconsistent and inadequate", by a leading authority on the disease today.

Former government adviser Richard Kimberlin said the Food Standards Agency was playing a potentially dangerous "waiting game" by holding on for firm evidence that the disease had passed to sheep before tightening a ban on certain types of sheep offal. Writing in the Independent newspaper, Dr Kimberlin, who sat on the government's Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee for eight years, said: "Why play this waiting game?

"Because there is no simple test it may be years before we know if BSE is spreading in sheep and it could be difficult to prove it is not.

"The longer we have to wait for positive evidence, the greater the number of consumers that could be exposed."

BSE has never been detected in sheep but Dr Kimberlin said the disease may have been passed to the animals in the late 1980s.

It might have continued to spread since then, masked by thousands of cases of the brain disorder scrapie, which is harmless to humans.

Current restrictions ban the brain, spinal cord and spleen of sheep from all human and animal food.

But Dr Kimberlin called for the ban to be extended to include sheep intestines, tonsils from animals under one year old and large lymph glands, which are known to have carried the BSE agent.


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