20 December 1999
Police probe alleged BSE cattle sale
FARMERS and cattle dealers in the West Country are being investigated for allegedly trying to sell cattle at risk of BSE into the human food chain.
Police and trading standards officers are involved in the investigation, which targets mainly producers and dealers in Somerset.
They are alleged to have used false identification documents to pass off older cattle as animals below 30 months of age.
Cattle older than 30 months are banned from entering the human food chain because they are more likely to have contracted BSE than younger beasts.
The news comes as the department of health and the ministry of agriculture confirm that medical experts are investigating at least seven suspected new cases of new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (nvCJD).
This strain of CJD, which was discovered early in 1996, has already killed 48 people in Britain.
Last Friday Lord Phillip, chairman of the BSE inquiry in London, said that the current death toll from the new form of CJD could be “just the tip of an iceberg”.