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From: TSS ()
Subject: Fears BSE MAD COW meat sold to the public
Date: March 17, 2005 at 12:01 pm PST

Fears BSE in meat sold to the public


MEAT which could have been infected with BSE or mad cow disease at a
Scottish abattoir has entered the food chain.

In August last year, 11 carcasses at a Wick abattoir were found to
contain thymus tissue - which must be removed under safety guidelines -
but one was sold on to the public.

The Food Standards Agency said today it did not alert the public because
the meat had probably already been eaten. The incident led to checks on
71 abattoirs and tighter inspections.

All cattle which go into the food chain must have specified risk
material removed to protect the public from contracting the human form
of mad cow disease. This includes the spinal chord, head and thymus.

An investigation by the FSA found that a vet and the Meat Hygiene
Service had failed to spot risk material on the 11 carcasses.

A carcass which might have been contaminated was bought by a butcher and
sold on to the public.

A spokeswoman for FSA Scotland said today: "It was suspected that a
carcass sold to the public still had thymus on it, which is part of the

"It was too late to withdraw it because it had probably already been

She added: "It is important to point out that thymus is a specified risk
material (SRM) on a precautionary basis."

She said the decision to make thymus an SRM was based on studies of
scrapie in sheep rather than on evidence of infectivity actually
existing in cattle thymus.

BSE experts in France claimed in January that safety precautions were
sufficient to protect humans against mad cow disease.

Banning brain, spinal tissue and older cattle from the food chain had
worked, a French team told the Lancet.

By studying monkeys, they estimated how much infected tissue a human
would have to eat to be at risk and said it would be more than anyone
could consume.

UK experts said the exact quantity remained unknown and recommended
continued surveillance.

In January, scientists claimed an explosion of deaths from BSE is
unlikely even though thousands of people may be infected.

Researchers used a computer model to predict the progress of the variant
CJD epidemic based on the level of infection and the number of recorded

Only about 70 more people were likely to become ill as a result of
eating infected beef in the 1980s, said the scientists.

But thousands more people could be carrying the disease, remaining "sub
clinical" and never developing into a life-threatening illness.

The research did not take into account secondary infection through blood
donations or surgery with contaminated instruments.

In 2003, the Wick abattoir closed as a result of falling throughput and
heavy investment needed to comply with new EU hygiene regulations.

But a local businessman saved the slaughterhouse from closure in August

The abattoir was the only one in the area after the closure of the one
in Thurso around the mid-1990s.

The UK no longer has the highest level of BSE in Europe, but is the only
country with limitations on exports.

The Wick discovery was the second domestic breach of SRM controls since
a health-marked carcass discovered in 2004.


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