Traces of bonemeal in flour prompt Swiss mad cow investigation

November 14, 2001 Agence France Presse
Traces of animal-based bonemeal have been found in flour destined for human consumption in Switzerland, prompting a major investigation by veterinary authorities amid fears about the spread of mad cow disease, officials said on Wednesday.

The Federal Veterinary Office said in a statement that reinforced checks introduced in summer 2001 to detect traces of meat and bonemeal in animal feed had "detected for the first time traces of bone in several samples of bran meant for animal consumption".

It added that the contaminated bran came from a mill in central or eastern Switzerland which also milled wheat for human consumption. Further checks at the mill had revealed the presence of a bone fragment in one sample taken from flour meant for human use. "Such traces should not exist because Switzerland has completely banned the use of flour of animal origin (bonemeal) in animal feed since January 1, 2001," Hans Wyss, a spokesman for the veterinary office said.

"Tests have not so far shown other elements that indicate the presence of traces of flour of animal origin," the veterinary office said, adding that it considered the risk to consumers to be very small.

Bran is separated from wheat destined for flour and is often sent to animal feed manufacturers.

Switzerland followed other European countries and outlawed the use of meat and bonemeal in animal feed on January 1, amid fears that animal residues could spread the fatal brain-wasting disease bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as mad cow disease.

The 65-tonne suspicious batch of flour was seized and sacks which had already been delivered were recalled as a precautionary measure, the veterinary office said.

"A major investigation is underway," it added.

Wys said 26 tonnes of animal feed had also been seized.

"The danger for the consumer is considered to be very weak," the veterinary office said. "It is nevertheless difficult to make an exact assessment of the risks."

The Swiss authorities said there were "clear signs that some wheat samples already contained some impurities at the time of delivery to the mill".

They also said cross contamination could have occurred during transport or packaging.

Wyss said the flour mill also produced animal feed until 1995 using separate machinery and silos.

Since the first case of BSE in cattle was discovered in Switzerland in 1990, there have been 398 cases of mad cow disease.

Home | News | Organics | GE Food | Health | Environment | Food Safety | Fair Trade | Peace | Farm Issues | Politics
Español | Campaigns | Buying Guide | Press | Search | Donate | About Us | Contact Us

Organic Consumers Association - 6771 South Silver Hill Drive, Finland MN 55603
E-mail: Staff · Activist or Media Inquiries: 218-226-4164 · Fax: 218-353-7652
Please support our work. Send a tax-deductible donation to the OCA

Fair Use Notice: The material on this site is provided for educational and informational purposes. It may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of scientific, environmental, economic, social justice and human rights issues etc. It is believed that this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have an interest in using the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. The information on this site does not constitute legal or technical advice.