The latest results of BSE tests conducted on healthy cattle across the EU reveal that of the 1.7 million cattle slaughtered only 76 tested positive for the disease, Sir John Krebs, Chairman of the Food Standards Agency , said on Wednesday.
Sir Krebs said, "The EU programme of testing animals destined for the food chain shows a very low level of BSE cases. The figures are encouraging, and tend to indicate that there is no massive, hidden epidemic of BSE in Europe."
"But we cannot be complacent," he added.
The 76 healthy animals which tested positively were in Spain (22 positives from 73,859 tested); France (21 from 623,349); Germany (13 from 613,550); Belgium (10 from 97,311); Italy (7 from 64,351); Holland (2 from 97,794), and the Republic of Ireland (1 from 71,699). No positives were reported out of the 30 healthy animals tested in Great Britain.
Sir John said that a new leaflet being launched on Wednesday, entitled "BSE & Beef", - with Consumers' Association support - sets out to provide direct information to consumers.
The leaflet describes the BSE controls (which are designed to reduce the risks from BSE to an extremely low level) and lists the European countries that have reported cases of BSE and those currently thought unlikely to have BSE. Italso explains the various labels that can be found on beef, including the Health Mark, which shows that the beef has been processed in premises specially licensed for that purpose.
Copies of this leaflet and "BSE: a Food Standards Agency Guide", are available on the BSE website.