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Tuesday, 14 November, 2000, 13:00 GMT
France acts on BSE
Beef carcass inspection
Sales of beef have dropped recently
French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin has announced a ban on T-bone steaks and a moratorium on the use of animal products in livestock feed.

The measures are intended to calm public fears in France over the rising cases of BSE, or mad cow disease.

Several countries have already banned imports of beef from France, where sales of the meat have plummeted.

Lionel Jospin
Mr Jospin had previously said no decision would be made until January
Mr Jospin has previously been accused of failing to respond to the growing public concern in France about the true extent of BSE.

Mr Jospin told a news conference the ban was intended as a precautionary step pending investigations by the national food safety agency.

French restrictions in force since 1990 ban the use of meat and bone meal in cattle feed, but the new temporary ban will apply to all livestock fodder.

The new ban has been prompted by fears that feeds containing cattle products have been accidentally or deliberately fed to cattle, despite the existing ban.

T-bone ban

Other measures announced by Mr Jospin include:

  • random tests on cattle entering slaughterhouses
  • more funds for research into BSE

The ban on T-bone steaks is intended to eliminate from the food chain the vertebrae of cattle, where the BSE infection is believed to reside.

BBC Paris correspondent James Coomarasamy says the move represents something of a climb-down for the French prime minister, who has warned against stoking consumer fears.

He had previously said that no decision would be taken about meat and bone-meal until scientific experts gave their opinion in January.

But he has come under increasing pressure to act after it was revealed last month that beef from a BSE-infected herd had been sold in several French supermarkets.

Last week Agriculture Minister Jean Glavany rejected a proposal by farmers to slaughter of millions of cattle in an attempt to wipe out the disease.

Mr Glavany said it would be too costly and would only create more "psychosis" among consumers.

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See also:

10 Nov 00 | Europe
BSE alarm spreads across Europe
07 Nov 00 | Europe
Chirac demands CJD action
27 Oct 00 | Europe
More suspect beef sold in France
25 Oct 00 | UK
BSE: The spectre spreads?
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