9 August 2001
Food industry ‘blocking CJD effort’

By FWi staff

THE governments BSE adviser SEAC has accused the UK food industry of thwarting its efforts to calculate the vCJD risk for the public.

The committee has been trying to determine how much meat potentially contaminated with BSE could have entered human food supplies.

But it says discovering how much mechanically recovered meat (MRM) went into school dinners is impossible because of a lack of information from companies.

Three SEAC members told the BBC Radio 4 Todayprogramme that they had been “continually thwarted” in their efforts to extract information.

Professor John Collinge said: “We have repeatedly asked the government for this information.

“The government has asked on more than one occasion to get this information.”

“Both have been given feedback that there is reluctance from the industry to provide full information about this.”

Committee chairman, Dr Peter Smith, told the BBC that it was frustrating because the information was so important.

“Its a potentially important route by which the human population was exposed to the BSE agent.”

The meat industry said it was not true that they were unwilling to hand over information. In many cases records were not kept, it claimed.

Officials are keen to find out how much MRM was included in school meals because it could explain why so many vCJD sufferers were young people.

The Food Standards Agency is investigating if it can get the information needed by SEAC by interviewing people who worked in the industry.

CLICK HERE to receive FWis FREE new daily email newsletter to keep up-to-date with the latest news of foot-and-mouth and other farming-related stories