The raw meat, from around 28,000 diseased animals a year, is banned by most supermarkets and burger chains. Tesco, for example, does not take it due to “public-health concerns surrounding the issue of bTB and its risk to consumers”.
However, it is being sold to some caterers and food processors, and finding its way into schools, hospitals and the military, or being processed into products such as pies and pasties. Some may also go into pet food.
Defra, which makes about £10m a year from selling the infected carcasses, says the risk of infection is “extremely low”
In my Leading for Nature blog I stress the need for our scientists to be able to express their opinions freely. Prof Boyd and Mr Gibbens are senior officials within DEFRA. It is difficult to make sense of this story when both officials have recently been stressing the risk of bovine TB to human health; if this is true how can unlabeled meat from bTB reactor cattle be allowed freely to enter the human foodchain? Are these views those of senior scientists or senior public servants following their minister’s whims?
Some clarity is urgently needed. Defra should publish its overdue Bovine TB control strategy as a matter of urgency and Mr Paterson should remove the restrictions that have been placed on the freedoms of our top government scientists to say what they think. Perhaps then the public’s (and Mine) faith in DEFRA pronouncements might be restored.
See on www.thesundaytimes.co.uk