PA (PA News)

Fri, Mar 22, 1996; By Nick Robinson, Consumer Affairs Correspondent

People who want to avoid the risk of catching the human form of Mad Cow Disease should stop eating beef and beef products completely, a top watchdog warned today.

'Consumers who want to avoid the risk of BSE have no choice but to cut out beef and beef products from their diet," said the Consumers ' Association.

"There is currently an unquantifiable risk in eating beef," said association director Sheila McKechnie.

"Some consumers will decide that the risk is acceptable, and our advice to them is that they can reduce the risk by only eating muscle' meat."

She added: "There is no scientific information available that can predict the level of the risk with any security. This poses consumers with a very difficult choice."

The Government should make more information available to the public "as a matter of extreme urgency", the association said.

It said the Government and industry should join forces to identify those products which are not obviously beef and are already in the food chain.

All products containing mechanically recovered meat - MRM - should also be identified, it said.

MRM is the remaining edible tissue of an animal which is used in pies, burgers, soups, stews and pates. It has been claimed that these products pose a greater threat of BSE.

Ms McKechnie said the association had asked for a meeting with Health Secretary Stephen Dorrell and Professor John Pattison, chairman of the Spongiform Encephalopathies Advisory Committee, "to clarify exactly where the risks lie and how we can best advise consumers .

She went on: "Further research must be carried out into BSE and the results made public.

"Clearer information from the experts is the only way to cut through the current confusion.

"But until we know that BSE is eliminated from all stages of the food chain, no one can guarantee that beef is safe."
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