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The BBC's James Coomarasamy in Paris
"Even before the scare there was rising concern"
 real 56k

Saturday, 21 October, 2000, 16:00 GMT 17:00 UK
Suspect beef triggers French BSE scare
cows
The suspect beef was sold in French supermarkets t
The authorities in France say one of the leading supermarket chains, Carrefour, has sold up to a tonne of beef which may be infected with Mad Cow Disease, or BSE.

The authorities say the beef came from a herd of 13 cattle which was slaughtered earlier this month.

Tests later showed that one of the animals had the disease, but by then meat from the other animals was already on sale in 39 Carrefour supermarkets.

A cattle trader, his wife and son and a farmworker were detained on Friday for questioning, a prosecutor in the western town of Bernay said.

The trader faces possible charges of selling goods liable to endanger health.

Eating beef infected with BSE - bovine spongiform encephalopathy - can cause a similar brain disease in humans.

Animal feed row

The French Green party has demanded an immediate ban on the feeding of animal products to other animals, after a report cast doubt on French efforts to stop transmission of the disease.

France banned the use of meat and bone meal in foodstuffs for cattle herds in 1990, amid fears that they played a key role in transmitting BSE.

But the Liberation daily said the state consumer fraud agency, which checks compliance with the 1990 law, had tolerated meat and bone meal in cattle feed for at least two years - albeit at less than 0.3%.

Unlike Britain, France - which refuses to lift its ban on UK beef imports in defiance of an European Commission ruling - does not bar all cattle over the age of 30 months from human consumption.

Under the 30-month rule, all cows in the UK over this age have to be slaughtered and their carcasses incinerated.

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See also:

19 Oct 00 | UK Politics
UK beef safer than French?
17 Dec 99 | BSE Inquiry
More questions than answers
17 Dec 99 | BSE Inquiry
Britain's bill for mad cow crisis
13 Sep 00 | Sci/Tech
BSE controls 'must remain'
16 Aug 00 | Middle East
Kuwait bans French beef
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