British BSE expert warns on E.U. beef - "I wouldn't eat French sausages"

September 19, 2001 Deutsche Presse-Agentur
Beef from France, Germany and Spain is causing concern to British experts on mad cow disease, with that from France a particular worry, press reports in London said on Wednesday.

New controls on beef imports from European countries were urgently needed because of the rising incidence of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, Roy Anderson of the government advisory committee on the disease said.

Anderson said he would not eat French sausage at the moment because of the risk. His comments are likely to outrage meat producers and government officials in the countries concerned, which have in the past blamed Britain for introducing the disease into their herds. Anderson said risks from eating British beef were now very low but he predicted that in France next year there would be a significant BSE problem and that the country would overtake the number of cases in British cattle.

The professor of disease epidemiology also expressed concern about Italy and Greece, where an increase in the the number of new cases was expected.

Officials should be looking at the precise content of meat products, he said.

"The more suspect side is mechanically recovered meat used in sausages. You can never rely on people being honest, so you might need some spot testing," he said.

"I think that countries in the European Union have pretty high standards. But there are significant numbers of BSE-infected cattle in France. We know that brains are widely used in French cooking and sausages, and I personally would not eat them at the moment," he said.

According to British statistics, the number of cases in Germany this year is 95, up from seven last year. In France there are 152 cases so far this year, from 162 last year and 30 in 1999.

In Britain there have been 468 cases this year, down from 1,355 last year. The figure is estimated to fall below 300 next year.

Fears about a rise in BSE cases on the Continent are certain to incense E.U. states, which blame Britain for exporting the disease to them.

Anderson was optimistic about the number of people in Britain now likely to contract variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease - the human form of BSE. He said he would soon publish forecasts that the upper figure will be considerably lower than the 100,000 previously estimated.

New research showed that many vCJD victims worked in the catering industry. So far 101 people have died from the disease and another five are probable cases.

According to the British statistics, there has been one case in Ireland and four in France, where one victim is still alive.

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