Health agency rules out risk to food safety as case of mad cow disease hit Somerset farm

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A single case of BSE – an infection commonly known as “mad cow disease” – has been confirmed on a farm in Somerset, reports stated today (18).

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (Apha) said the infected animal was dead and had been removed from the farm, therefore, there is “no risk to food safety” though “precautionary movement restrictions” were in place to stop the movement of livestock in the area while “further investigations continue to identify the origin of the disease”.

The chief veterinary officer, Christine Middlemiss, said the deceased animal was tested as part of “TSE surveillance controls”.

She added: “This is further proof that our surveillance system for detecting and containing this type of disease is working.

“We recognise this will be a traumatic time for the farmer and we are on hand to offer advice through this difficult period.

“The UK’s overall risk status for BSE remains at ‘controlled’ and there is no risk to food safety or public health.”

Apha said it will launch a “thorough investigation of the herd, the premises, potential sources of infection and will produce a full report on the incident in due course”.

It added that there have been five cases of confirmed BSE in the UK since 2014, all of which have been in animals not destined for the human food chain and posed no risk to the general public.

A spokesperson for the Food Standards Agency said: “There are strict controls in place to protect consumers from the risk of BSE, including controls on animal feed, and removal of the parts of cattle most likely to carry BSE infectivity.”