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EHOs CONCERNED ABOUT RISKS FROM BSE WASTE

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Environmental health officers are concerned that infection from BSE-infected carcasses could get into the food chai...
Environmental health officers are concerned that infection from BSE-infected carcasses could get into the food chain unless regulations on disposal are changed, reported BBC Radio 4's Today programme. The BSE inquiry heard evidence from Staffordshire yesterday that liquid - called 'condensate' - from the boiled carcasses had been spread on fields in the county, with consequent risks to watercourses, grazing animals and other wildlife.

This morning Graham Dukes, of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, told the Today programme: 'What we are concerned about, and what was said at the BSE inquiry, is that because the govenrment have taken extraordinary measures to protect public health from BSE, that there seems to be a loophole here which is being exploited. My colleagues at the inquiry yesterday explained the link between the spreading of this condensate on land and the potential dangers should the causative organism for BSE finally be proven, there's going to be a danger to public health'.

He added: 'The argument is that the condensate doesn't contain protein. Well, we've now had tests carried out which prove that it does contain protein and it is not killed off by the process. If - and there is a big if here - the causative organism is based around a protein then we are putting that proteneous material back to the field that is grazed by crows'.

Mr Dukes said there were ways in which the material could be teated, but it cost a lot of money. The rendering industry argued the costs must be borne by someone or some organsiation. It needed to be treated as a special waste and then dumped in the appropriate way. It would be less dangerous and certainly would not get back into the food chain.

He continued: 'And the regulations, we believe, can be altered quite simply by changing the definition of 'condensate' to something that cannot and should not be spread on fields. Call it a waste and then it can be dealt with, it can be treated and then it can be controlled.

'The government seem to be fairly intransigent, which surprises me in view of the lengths they've gone to protect us - bone in beef, for example. It seems to be a very strange attitute that's being expressed and one we are concerned about'.

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