12 December 2000
‘French farmers hid BSE cases’

By FWi staff

FRENCH farmers have concealed BSE cases by disguising the cause of their animals deaths as farmyard accidents, reports The Times.

A report from the French food agency said BSE in France could be three times more serious than thought.

Of 15,000 cattle tested in Western France between August and September, 32 were found to have BSE, a rate of 2.1 per 1000.

In Britain – where none of the animals tested was for human consumption – similar tests found a rate of 4.5 per 1000.

But the agency detected an abnormally high rate of BSE – 3 per 1000 – among cattle put down after an accident, reports The Times.

Commentators say French farmers may have been tempted to conceal a case of BSE, as this would mean the slaughter of the entire herd.

This anomaly raises fresh fears that BSE-infected meat may have entered the food chain. France exports 5000 tonnes of beef to Britain a year.