"There are many good things about Barbados, not least that it is one of the few countries where McDonald's failed: the locals cite their predilection for healthy food and their preference for poultry and fish over beef as prime reasons why the first (and only) McDonald's hamburger restaurant in Barbados, just outside Bridgetown, closed six months after opening."
Mad cow disease is rife in Europe and is not just a British problem, according to a report by an international group of scientists to be published shortly. On statistical grounds alone, the very small numbers of cattle reported with the disease in France, Portugal and other European countries does not make sense, the report says.
It also questions the safety of meat and meat products throughout the European Union, where abattoirs and meat plants have not been compelled to comply with the rigorous public health safeguards imposed on slaughterhouses in Britain to protect consumers.
The report, which will strengthen Britain's case that the EU export ban on British beef is not only unjust but also illogical, is likely to provoke anger and indignation throughout the Community. One of its main authors is Bram Schreuder, one of Europe's leading experts on BSE, of the Institute of Science and Health at Lelystad, Holland. He said: "BSE cannot be considered a British problem alone. A European approach is required."
The report also involves scientists at Tybingen in Germany and John Wilesmith, the Ministry of Agriculture's top epidemiologist at the Central Vetinary Laboratory at Weybridge, Surrey. Mr Wilesmith is a key figure in the BSE eradication programme and is highly regarded in scientific circles around the world.
Mr Schreuder has said: "Based on the results to be submitted shortly, it is evident that not many countries can maintain claims that they have never had BSE or, at least, that they have never imported it." The findings are based largely on the fact that 57,900 pure-bred cattle were exported from Britain to Europe between 1985 and 1990 when the trade stopped. These animals were of an age that allows for infection during calfhood and early adolescence.
He said: "If these cattle were to represent a representative sample of the total British cattle population they should have produced, according to our calculations, 1,668 cases of BSE had they remained in Great Britain." In fact, only about 30 cases were reported on the Continent from this batch. He added: "These cattle, including those incubating BSE, were exported all over Europe. Only a proportion of these have been reported. These results clearly indicate that BSE cannot be considered a British problem alone and that a European approach is required."
The early findings suggest a cover-up of BSE cases in Europe. They do not take into account any cattle on the Continent which were fed the type of rations, containing the rendered remains of sheep and cattle, which were exported to Europe in large quantities ostensibly as pig and poultry food after they were banned as cattle food in Britain in 1988. Many British officials and farmers suspect that far more cattle fell victim to BSE on the Continent than has been admitted through eating this type of food.