Britain to offer BSE test assurance?

5 November 1999

Britain to offer BSE test assurance?

BRITAIN is preparing to offer extra guarantees on its beef quality by providing tests for BSE on cattle carcasses, reports The Guardian.

It says the move would enable British cattle exporters to give added assurance to European customers that their beef was safe.

British scientists are working with their French counterparts to develop the tests, according to the report.

The newspaper implies this is why Nick Brown, the agriculture secretary, has been taking a conciliatory approach with the French in the dispute.

The published opinion last week of European Commission (EC) scientists on French allegations about British beef called for urgent work on tests for both carcasses and live animals.

Their report suggested that other countries might follow the example of Switzerland, which has already begun using carcass tests for BSE.

During the summer, the EC verified three tests for identifying BSE in cows that had already shown signs of the disease.

The EC scientists believe the tests hold promise for pre-clinical screening programmes.

At present, the only way to confirm cattle affected by BSE is a time-consuming examination of the brain.

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