A herd of Surrey beef cattle are due to be slaughtered this week, following the discovery of meat and bonemeal in some of their feed, according to a report on BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today programme on Tuesday (16 January).

The farmer, based near Guildford, was found to be inadvertantly feeding the ingredient when government vets visited the farm last year to check on cattle registartions, says the programme.

The vets noticed some strange looking feed in the troughs that turned out to be pet food, intended for rabbits, acquired from a local supplier.

Subsequent testing revealed that the food contained meat-and-bonemeal, thought to be responsible for the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and first banned in UK cattle rations in 1988.

Accordidng to Farming Today reporter Tom Heap, incorporating MBM into pet food is still legal, as a vital source of protein.

He says the farmer believed there was nothing wrong with the feed and it would benefit his cattle.

But now the herd has to be slaughtered as a public safety precaution.

It is believed that no meat from the cattle has enetered the human food chain, as the farm has been under movement restrictions since the investigations began.