BSE - The Problem that Won't go AwayWednesday, Dec 13, 2000
BSE has been a continuing threat to the consumption of red meat in Europe since the outbreak of human
CJD was connected to the consumption of beef some ten years ago in Britain.
The real and perceived threat of BSE has had a long incubation in the minds of the public and authorities
have to bear the grave responsibilities of their neglect and cover up of the outbreak. But even
worse is that even with seemingly clear scientific evidence of the cause and mechanism for transfer
of BSE Britain and latterly France, Germany and Spain are reluctantly managing the growing evidence
of their continuing outbreak.
Evidence of French farmers sending infected animals to slaughter and processing under the guise of injured
stock shows the insidiousness of the attempts to cover up a disease that has the potential
to devastate the red meat markets of the world.
Yesterday's announcement that a death in South Africa from CJD may be linked to the consumption of BSE
infected hamburgers produced in South Africa indicates that no country can claim to be safe.
South Africa appears to have continued importing potentially infected stock feeds from Britain up until
1998. Could the same conditions have happened in NZ? Perhaps not with feeds - but from some other
Personal observation of Australian customs detection of OXO cubes carefully wrapped in a toilet bag
carried by a seemingly intelligent middle-aged Aussie traveller shows the extent of the dangerous
'game' played by travellers to break the rules that protect our livestock industry.
Can we be smug in feeling NZ will only be a beneficiary of the problems created by BSE for European
farmers? I think not. We are at risk from contamination ourselves as shown by the apparent CJD death
in South Africa but even more concerning is the markets perception that beef and perhaps lamb consumption
is not now an acceptable health risk.
Have we placed the right expectation on our authorities to ensure that BSE does not appear in NZ