Ministers risked 'new BSE' in pigs

April 26, 2001 Daily Mail (London)

MINISTERS have ignored expert warnings to ban the use of contaminated pig swill for four years, despite fears of a 'new BSE'.

Scientific advisers said back in 1997 that turning pigs into cannibals by feeding them swill containing pork waste had the potential to create 'a major epidemic'.

It was exactly this practice which triggered the BSE outbreak in cattle.

Swill catering waste from kitchens, restaurants and food factories still routinely contains up to 12 per cent porcine material and is fed to tens of thousands of pigs across the UK.

Contaminated pig feed is thought to have triggered the current foot-and-mouth crisis.

The Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee said in 1997 that pork products in swill could lead to a BSE-style disease in pigs.

Jack Cunningham, then Agriculture Minister, declared soon after that 'processing certain types of waste containing porcine material and feeding it as swill to pigs . . . will have to end'.

But although a ban was imposed on the use of pig waste from slaughterhouses and unprocessed pet food, the use of catering waste containing pork was never stopped.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Agriculture said last night: 'As far as catering waste goes, we consulted with the pig industry. It was felt that it should continue to be allowed but under very strict controls.' Yesterday Sky News broadcast pictures from a pig farm in Staffordshire which showed salami floating in swill destined for pig troughs.

Peter Jinman, a vet and SEAC member, said the issue had been raised at the committee's meeting yesterday.

He was surprised that a ban was only now being considered, he said [The practice continues unabated in the United States--BSE coordinator].

He added that he was assured yesterday that the Government was now 'actively pursuing a ban'.

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