BSE Case Raises More Fears over Spread of Disease; Cow Born after Tight Controls Brought In
Crofts, Rachel, Mason, Trevor, The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland)
THE discovery that a cow born after the introduction of controls to eradicate BSE was found to be suffering from the disease has sparked new worries about transmission of the condition.
Food safety experts fear the disease could have had been passed on by the animal's mother - a method of transmission not previously proven.
Dr Tim Lobstein, co-director of the Food Commission, said: ''Either the food controls for cattle have not been adequate or there is maternal trans- mission.
''It raises alarming possibilities that new methods or forms of transmission have yet to be fully appreciated by Government scientists.''
The disclosure was made by Agriculture Minister Nick Brown who told the Commons that a special investigation into the case would now be carried out by the state veterinary service.
The Government and farmers' leaders were quick to stress that the discovery posed no risk to food safety but their claims failed to reassure consumer groups.
The Consumers' Association said last night: ''There needs to be a thorough and transparent investigation as to how the cow became infected and any implications for public health.
''This again reinforces the fact that many uncertainties still remain regarding BSE.
''We need to ensure that vigorous and effective controls are in place.''
But Mr Brown insisted that the discovery proved the effectiveness of controls already in place.
He told Parliament: ''The case does not change in any way our view that we have the toughest rules in place to protect public health and eradicate the disease.'
And he added: ''There is no risk to food safety as a result of this case.
"The cow involved - 44 months of age at the time of slaughter - would not have entered the food chain because of the rules which prevent animals aged over 30 months from getting into the food chain.
''The animal has one offspring, which has been traced, and that is not going to enter the food chain either.
''Experts have always foreseen that a few cases of BSE could be confirmed in animals born after August 1 1996. …