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From: TSS ()
Date: March 3, 2005 at 8:02 am PST

-------- Original Message --------
Date: Thu, 3 Mar 2005 09:03:41 -0600
From: "Terry S. Singeltary Sr."
Reply-To: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy

##################### Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy #####################

CJD deaths linked to school meat

Mar 3 2005

Martin Shipton, Western Mail

SCHOOL dinners eaten by three young people in Wales may have resulted in
their deaths from the human form of mad cow disease, a previously secret
report has revealed.

The three Welsh cases of CJD have been linked to a meat scandal of the
late 1980s.

Tonight the ITV Wales current affairs programme Wales This Week will
tell how an official report obtained under freedom of information
legislation linked the deaths with possibly contaminated meat eaten by
the victims in school dinners.

The victims all lived within 25 miles of each other: two came from the
Tenby area and the other from Carmarthen. Because they lived so close to
one another an investigation was launched to see if they had anything in

The families of Marianne Harvey, Richard Cole and Richard Roberts were
denied a copy of the inquiry report, but the TV programme got it after
making a request under the Freedom of Information Act, which came into
force in January.

The report, by the National Public Health Service for Wales, discovered
that all three ate school meals in 1987 and 1988. Marianne Harvey and
Richard Cole attended Tenby's Greenhill School where they regularly ate
school dinners. Richard Roberts was also eating school dinners at
Johnstown primary school in Carmarthen.

These schools used meat from a wholesaler who was based at an abattoir
in Llanelli. The investigators found the wholesaler and the abattoir
operated legally and supplied high quality meat but that a West Wales
cattle dealer who was also using the abattoir may have been a possible
source of infection.

The dealer, Philip Murrell of Blaenau Mawr Farm near Cross Hands in
Carmarthenshire, was slaughtering older animals at the abattoir. This
was legal and acceptable practice at the time but what was not known
then was that older animals may have had a greater than usual risk of
having BSE which risked contaminating healthy meat on the same premises.

Mr Murrell was the subject of complaints throughout the 1980s. These
included allegations that he was slaughtering animals without vet
certificates to say they were fit for human consumption.

In 1983 a neighbouring local authority warned that Mr Murrell was paying
higher prices for these animals than local knackers' yards could afford.

One of his drivers was successfully prosecuted for transporting dead
animals with live cattle, which is illegal.

In the late 1980s a consignment of his meat was intercepted by a local
authority in England and condemned as unfit. Some of this condemned meat
was stamped as fit by the local authority's meat inspector, Bethan
Cannings, who was based at the abattoir. She had previously been warned
about the standard of her work and a disciplinary panel had demoted her.

In 1990 the local authority brought in the QC Desmond Keane. He produced
a damning report and Llanelli's environmental health department was
overhauled. Ms Cannings was fired and her boss, the council's chief
environment health officer, demoted. Ms Cannings later won an unfair
dismissal case against the council.

Mr Murrell moved his business to an abattoir near Swansea.

The team investigating the cluster of three CJD cases concluded that
they could not rule out the possibility that cross-contamination from Mr
Murrell's meat was the source of the infection.

The team, led by consultant epidemiologist Dr Brendan Mason from the
National Public Health Service for Wales, said in their report, "If some
of the alleged illegally processed animals were in the early stages of
BSE, then there is the possibility that a relatively large proportion of
prime carcass meat was cross-contaminated with the BSE agent and went
into the local food supply, including the supply to schools."

The report added, "It should be noted however that there are no records
to show that BSE-affected animals were illegally processed."

It also adds that the rate of CJD in West Wales is no higher than the UK

What caused the infection of the three victims may never be known and
the report sought only to identify risk factors. The report also made it
clear that the occurrences could be a chance event. None of the
practices carried out were known to carry a risk of CJD infection at
that time.

In 1997 Philip Murrell was jailed for a year after admitting two counts
of tax evasion. It was estimated that he had failed to pay £153,000 in tax.

The abattoir in Dafen, Llanelli is still operating but under new
management. It is one of the most modern slaughterhouses in Wales and
has a clean bill of health from the Meat Hygiene Service, the government
watchdog which now polices the meat industry. It was never involved in
Mr Murrell's business. Mr Murrell did not respond to letters sent to him
by the programme makers.

'Of all the age groups to hit, this is the cruellest'

THE mother of one of the Welsh CJD victims last night spoke of her anger
at the way the case had been handled as she recalled the heart-rending
experience of her daughter's illness.

Rae Harvey, whose daughter Marianne died five-and-a-half years ago and
who lives with her husband Terry in Pembrokeshire, said, "I don't trust
the authorities any more. Marianne was treated very badly in my view.
She was the 28th person to be diagnosed with CJD in the UK, and there
was a lack of knowledge about how to treat it.

"We had nobody to help us - these days there is a proper care package
once CJD is diagnosed."

Mrs Harvey said one medical professional was very unpleasant to her
daughter before she was diagnosed.

"When she was very depressed at her condition, he told her to snap out
of it," she recalled.

And she says in her mind she is convinced about a link between the
illnesses and school dinners. "From where I stand, it's the only link
between the three cases. Of all the age groups to hit, this is the
cruellest - it's the young who are getting it.

"Seeing a child go through this is absolutely heart-rending.

"I wish those responsible for food safety could see more than just a
piece of footage on a TV programme or a picture in a newspaper. They've
no idea about the suffering."

Mrs Harvey said, after being interviewed by an investigator for the
report subsequently produced by the National Public Health Service for
Wales, she had assumed she and her husband would be sent a copy.

But one never came, and it is only now that Wales This Week has been
able to get access to it by the Freedom of Information Act.

"It's terrible that we weren't given these details," she said.

"But for a long time we have suspected the link with the school dinners.
We heard rumours years ago.

"For obvious reasons, it was painful for us to co-operate with the TV
programme. But we decided to do so because we didn't want Marianne just
to be forgotten, like another old story.

"I would like to think what happened to her won't happen to anyone else,
but I'm afraid I can't believe that."

The victims

Marianne Harvey, a potter from Stepaside, near Tenby, who died in August
1999 at the age of 25.

Richard Cole, 30, a musician from Reynalton, near Tenby, who died in
January 2001.

Richard Roberts, a sixth former from Carmarthen, who died in September
2002. At 18 he was the youngest of the three.


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