The French government is expected to adopt precaution measures before the end of July to protect consumers from the potential transmission of mad cow disease to sheep and goats, the French Agriculture Ministry said on July 9. These measures aim to reinforce current French legislation passed to fight scrapie, an ailment related to mad cow disease or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The measures are to follow an opinion issued in February by French food safety agency AFSSA, which recommended excluding certain sheep and goat organs and tissues from the food chain. This recommendation was based on findings by scientists who managed to infect sheep with BSE under laboratory conditions. There has never been a naturally occurring BSE case in sheep, although scientists have shown the brain-wasting cattle disorder could theoretically be passed to sheep and goats. Although scrapie in sheep is similar to BSE, it is not believed to be harmful to humans. Scientists believe that eating meat products contaminated with BSE may have been responsible for the spread of the deadly new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in people. For animals coming from herds where at least one case of scrapie was found, AFSSA recommended that the head, the spinal cord and all thoracic and abdominal viscera be prevented from entering the food chain. AFSSA also recommended applying the restrictions to imported animals, notably from Britain. AFSSA recognised that reinforcing current measures could lead to a "severe crisis" as it would point to a potential risk for consumers. Farm minister Jean Glavany expressed a similar worry when he recently declared he was conscious of the "panic effect" such measures could provoke in consumers' minds.