26 May 1995

Clash over BSE control policy

READING University scientists have clashed with MAFF over BSE research and control policy.

The scientists say MAFF should investigate the possibility of screening cattle brains at slaughterhouses for early signs of the disease. They fear many infected animals may have been slaughtered and entered the food chain before they developed symptoms.

A live test, which could identify these cattle has not yet been developed. "The real significance of such a test, of course, is that it would enable the detection of infected cattle going for human consumption rather than just as an aid to clinical diagnosis," say the scientists in a letter to the Veterinary Record .

MAFF scientists, responding in the same issue, point out that there is no evidence BSE can be passed to humans under any circumstances. But for control purposes it has been assumed that it can.

"In view of all the preventative measures which apply to cattle we see no purpose in screening the brains of cattle at slaughter." &#42