Tons of beef to be destroyed in Germany after faulty BSE tests

February 4, 2002 Xinhua News Agency
Following the recent discovery that testing procedures in Bavaria designed to detect mad cow disease, or BSE, were carried out negligently, about 8,000 tons of beef will be taken off the market and destroyed, it was announced on Monday.

The Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture Ministry said that the meat of all animals over 24 months of age that had been tested for bovine spongiform encephalopathy in an unlicensed laboratory in Westheim would be declared unfit for human consumption and recalled. Authorities say the measure affects some two-thirds of the 39, 500 cattle tested in Westheim in central Franconia. Each animal contains about 300 kilograms (660 pounds) of meat.

The decision has not been made because there is an acute hazard to health, the ministry said, but "because last doubts concerning the safety of the tests that had been carried out could not be eliminated." The measure was agreed upon by the German government and the states. Even more embarrassing for the government is the fact that some of the meat in question was part of an aid shipment of beef to North Korea. That consignment will also have to be destroyed.

Bavaria's consumer protection minister, Eberhard Sinner, said the European Commission had earlier declared that most of the meat analyzed in Westheim was unfit for consumption, but added that the national government and the states agreed it posed no immediate health hazard to consumers.

Last year, significant quantities of beef that had been inadequately tested for the brain-wasting disease also came onto the market in Rhineland-Palatinate.

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