EU criticizes Sweden's sloppy mad cow testing: report

EU criticizes Sweden's sloppy mad cow testing: report

June 28, 2001 Agence France Presse

The European Commission has criticized Sweden's mad cow testing procedures as so sloppy and insufficient that authorities would probably be unable to detect the disease, Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet said Thursday quoting an as-yet unpublished EU report.

Two inspectors from the European Union's food and veterinary committee visited Sweden for five days in February to see how Sweden had followed up new EU legislation aimed at preventing the spread of mad cow disease during the years 1998-2000, the paper said.

"In their report they wrote that undetected cases of BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease) may have passed through the slaughterhouses to the food and fodder chain," Svenska Dagbladet wrote.

"The ban on fodder has not been implemented in an efficient manner," it added.

Sweden has yet to record a single case of mad cow disease, a feat Swedish authorities have attributed to years of tough regulations.

Since 1986, Swedish law has forbidden feeding animal bone meal to any livestock that humans may later eat. Mad cow disease spreads when animals eat infected meat.

According to the newspaper, the EU inspectors found that cattle showing classic symptoms of mad cow disease were not examined even though no other clear diagnoses had been established.

Cattle that had been fed fodder containing meat and bone meal were not tested either, it said.

The report also criticized the Swedish Agricultural Board for carrying out too few and random BSE tests, and said certain high-risk organs, such as eyes, brains and bone marrow which are considered to be highly contagious if infected, were handled sloppily.

Paulo Kisekka, a veterinary inspector at the Swedish Food Administration, confirmed the picture painted by the EU inspectors to the newspaper, and said veterinarians had received extra instruction after the inspection.

New EU-wide regulations on BSE testing go into effect on July 1.

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