6 June 2001
BSE risk in 30-month abattoirs

By FWi staff

ACCIDENTAL contamination in slaughterhouses makes it possible for meat contaminated with BSE to enter the food chain, claims a new report.

Prions, which are believed to cause BSE, could survive abattoir sterilisation processes, warns the Royal Society and the Academy of Medical Sciences.

Cattle aged over 30 months – those most at risk from BSE – are slaughtered at abattoirs where meat for human consumption is prepared.

EU legislation forbids these two activities on the same day, an unverified US study suggests that prions could remain active even after heating to 159°F (79°C).

Royal Society vice-president Brian Heap said it was vital to establish that surfaces could not be contaminated after cleaning, reports The Daily Telegraph.

The Food Standards Agency said it would examine the risk, but said there were only eight dual-use abattoirs out of 394.

The Royal Society report also said that 430,000t of meat and bonemeal, possibly contaminated with BSE, and 200,000t of tallow were awaiting disposal.

Prof Heap suggested incineration without air at 290°F (161°C) to provide gases which could provide electricity.

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