Italy registers first mad cow case in two years
Italy has registered its first case of mad cow disease in two years, an official at an animal health institute said yesterday, and consumer groups said they were concerned about food safety.
The animal, a 13-year-old beef cow, came from a dairy farm in the northern region of Lombardy, said the official from Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale di Torino.
Mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), is believed to spread when cattle eat protein rendered from brains and spines of infected cattle or sheep.
"The new case of BSE has been found in a bovine... born in 1995, when feed contaminated with bone meal was still in use," Maria Caramelli, the head of the institute's national BSE centre, said.
The previous BSE case was registered in Italy in 2006 and 142 cases have been registered since 2001, she said.
Italian consumer groups Codacons and Adoc called for tightening controls on farms and taking measures against those who breached animal feed regulations.
"Citizens' security should not be threatened," Adoc said in a statement. The human form of BSE, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, is believed to be caused by eating meat from infected animals.
Italy's biggest farmers' association, Coldiretti, rushed to calm food safety concerns, saying in a statement that strict animal health controls in Italy had led to a drastic reduction of BSE cases. Confederazione Italiana Agricoltori, another farmers's association, said the case was a one-off incident.
"It is an isolated case and completely ring-fenced. It was discovered straight away and so it just confirms that the controls put in place straight after the alarm in 2001 are still very efficient," CIA said in a statement.