The Japanese government is to temporarily place a total ban on the distribution of imported and domestically produced meat and bone meal (MBM), an animal feed suspected of causing mad cow disease, government sources said yesterday. The government will burn all MBM - a protein feed made from the crushed internal organs, skin and bones of cows - which is already in the market. The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry will announce the measure as early as Monday October 1, 2001, according to a Kyodo new report. The ministry made the decision to allay consumer concerns that MBM produced for pigs and chickens is being mixed with feed for cows, the sources said. Prefectural governments will buy MBM from distributors before burning it. The central government will cover either all or part of the costs. Since September 18, feeding MBM to cows has been prohibited to prevent a possible spread of the disease. This followed a 1996 ministry directive not to feed MBM to cows. In the first case of mad cow disease outside of Europe, the agricultural ministry said September 22 that a cow in Japan suspected of having the disease was confirmed infected. The infection was confirmed by neuro-pathologists at the Veterinary Laboratories Agency, a British government agency. The infected cow, a five-year-old Holstein born in Hokkaido and raised at a dairy farm in Shiroi, Chiba Prefecture, was first detected on August 6 with symptoms of mad cow disease. Mad cow disease was first detected in Britain in 1986. It is thought to cause the fatal human variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD).