Skip to main content

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy

Volume 173: debated on Thursday 24 May 1990

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what research and inquiries his Department is undertaking in respect of bovine spongiform encephalopathy symptoms in (a) cats, (b) mink and (c) other animals.

Following is the reply:

  • (a) The clinical symptoms of spongiform encephalopathy in cats are being recorded by veterinary clinicians to whom possible cases are presented for examination. The Ministry can provide histopathological diagnosis if requested to do so.
  • (b) Studies of the transmissibility of BSE to mink are being planned in collaboration with researchers in the USA. The clinical symptoms of the disease in mink will be recorded, should transmission occur.
  • (c) The Ministry is undertaking research into the clinicopathology of BSE. Information describing the clinical symptoms of the disease has been published.
  • To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) if he will take urgent steps to ban the removal of cattle brains from crania by means of a modified paint spray gun that mixes water and compressed air; and if he will make a statement;(2) if he will take urgent steps to ban the removal of cattle brains from crania by means of a high-power water jet; and if he will make a statement.

    Cattle which show signs of BSE, or are suspected of having the disease, are slaughtered and do not go for human consumption. The ban on brains and other specified offal is an ultra-precautionary measure applying to clinically healthy animals.Nevertheless, we are aware of concerns about particular methods of brain removal. Wherever possible, head meat should be removed before the skull is opened. We have conducted studies into the methods employed for removing brains where this is not feasible. These indicate that high-pressure water and/or air jets should not be used as other, more satisfactory, techniques are available. I have asked the Tyrrell committee to review our findings before guidance is issued. I shall consider whether any further action is desirable having regard to the committee's advice. In the meantime, the state veterinary service is ready to give advice if needed.

    To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has instigated any research into the possible connection between bovine spongiform encephalopathy and the chemical reaction between aluminium and organophosphates in the soil; and if he will make a statement.

    Epidemiological studies conducted by the Ministry have found no connection beween BSE and the use of treatments or agricultural chemicals.

    To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the manufacturers that his Department have discovered have supplied contaminated food products to farmers that could cause bovine spongiform encephalopathy in their cattle.

    Epidemiological studies have shown that the most likely cause of BSE is the feeding of ruminant rations which included material derived from scrapieinfected sheep.All such feed used prior to the ruminant feed ban must be considered as a potential vehicle for the agent which caused the disease.