Abattoir fraud could bring BSE back to Britain

UK - Meat contaminated with BSE may be on sale throughout Britain because of widespread fraud at abattoirs, according to inspectors.
calendar icon 21 November 2006
clock icon 2 minute read

Slaughterhouses are accused of swapping samples from carcasses to stop them failing tests to detect the disease.

The brain stems of all cattle more than 30 months old should be checked for contamination, but some abattoir owners are suspected of substituting the brains of younger animals to ensure the meat is sold.

Earlier this month, beef was removed from supermarket shelves across Britain because of the failure to test just one cow's brain for BSE.

People eating products infected with BSE can develop the incurable degenerative neurological disorder variant-CJD, which attacks young people in particular.

Inspectors believe that fraud is most likely when the animal sample is damaged during removal. Such material is regarded as untestable and the carcass and those that might have come into contact with it must be destroyed. This can cost the companies involved up to £4,000.

Inspectors say the alleged fraud means meat is entering the food chain without being properly checked.

Inspectors belonging to the public service union Unison have reported the alleged practice at two British slaughterhouses, but believe the fraud may be widespread.

A union spokeswoman refused to name the plants concerned because abattoir managers "routinely attempt to intimidate inspectors for doing their job".

A third case is also under investigation in Northern Ireland, where a laboratory reported after DNA testing that samples taken from two cows could not come from animals more than 30 months old.

Source: news.independent.co.uk

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