Mad Cow Fear Sweeps France

France Bans T-bone Steaks
Nov. 14
c The Associated Press

PARIS (AP) - Amid spiraling fears about mad cow disease, France's
government on Tuesday announced it was banning the T-bone steak, the
second specialty to be slashed from the nation's menus in a week.

Prime Minister Lionel Jospin told reporters the government was also
implementing a temporary ban on all livestock feed containing meat -
including fish, chicken and pork.

A decision on a full ban would be made once the French agency for food
safety assesses risks associated with such feeds, which could take three
to four months. Jospin said the temporary ban takes effect Wednesday.

Concern about France's beef also heightened in Italy, where Agriculture
Minister Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio threatened to halt most beef imports
from France if the European Union failed to block the exports.

Rome, Milan, Florence, Genoa and other Italian cities have dropped beef
from school menus. Italy says its own beef is safe.

An Italian consumer group, Codacons, demanded that Italy's ministers of
health and agriculture issue decrees banning beef imports from France.

Fears about mad cow disease surged in France after an announcement last
month that potentially infected meat had made it to supermarket shelves
before being withdrawn. After that announcement, many French school
districts banned beef.

Jospin said the T-bone, a cut of meat that harbors potential risks
because it is so near the bone, would be banned immediately. On Friday,
France said it was banning sweetbreads, a delicacy made from a cow's
thymus gland.

The temporary ban on animal-based livestock feed is part of a series of
measures to protect the food chain from bovine spongiform
encephalopathy, or mad cow disease. The brain-wasting ailment is
suspected by scientists to be linked to a similar human malady, variant
Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.

Two people have died of variant CJD in France, compared to more than 80
in Britain.

Jospin has been under growing pressure to take tougher measures since
President Jacques Chirac called last week for a ban on all livestock
feed made of meat, feared to transmit mad cow disease.

France banned the use of animal-based feed for cows in 1990 and other
ruminants six years later. Since then, only chicken, pork and farm-
raised fish were allowed to be given animal-based feeds.

With the new measure, the government is seeking to eliminate cross-
contamination of feeds for cows.

The government's move means that 870,000 tons of feed must be stocked
and incinerated. It also means that France must increase imports of soy
to replace the protein-rich product being banned.

The number of cows in France found suffering from mad cow disease has
jumped from 31 last year to more than 90 this year.

AP-NY-11-14-00 1559EST

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