21 December 2001

FSAtaken to task

GOVERNMENT advisers have criticised the Food Standards Agency for prematurely releasing information about bungled tests for BSE in sheep.

The BSE advisory committee said the agency was wrong to warn that the results could be compatible with BSE in sheep before tests were completed.

The committee now wants to interview food agency chairman, Sir John Krebs, to discuss his organisations "commitment to openness".

Government departments should stop publishing incomplete work that could not be reliably interpreted, the advisory committee said. &#42

The agency raised expectations of the results by publishing the information early, revealing minutes from a meeting of the committee in November.

This forced ministers to go public immediately after scientists checking samples found that cattle brains had been used instead of sheep brains. "Data would normally be subject to peer review before being made public," say the minutes, which were published on Monday (Dec 17).