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Thailand bans European beef over mad cow scare
The Associated Press
BANGKOK, Thailand (December 28, 2000 10:06 a.m. EST http://www.nandotimes.com) - Thailand's government has imposed a ban on imports of beef from seven European nations in order to prevent the spread of mad cow disease.
Thailand has blocked imports of British beef since 1996 when the epidemic started. The additional countries from which beef imports are now banned are Portugal, France, Ireland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium, according to an agency statement.
The new ban was imposed after the government learned of the latest outbreak of mad cow disease - formally known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE - in several European countries spread by cows who ate infected feed, the statement said.
The ban, however, doesn't include dairy products and beef byproduct gelatin which are provided with certificates confirming that the products are free from the disease, the statement said.
Thailand's Food and Drug Administration has sent official letters to inform traders not to import animal meat and products that are from areas where there is a risk of mad cow disease, the statement said.
Last week, the government announced it would soon ban livestock products and livestock-related raw materials used for feedmeal production from the European Union.
Ravipong Wongdee, chief of the Department of Livestock Development, said a regulation governing imports of livestock products from the EU had been revised and would soon be made official.
The original regulation, issued in 1996, requires that any such imports be accompanied by official certification guaranteeing feedmeal is free from the disease.
Mad cow disease is thought to spread to humans as the brain-wasting variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. BSE wasn't identified until 1986, but by the mid-1990s, Britain was seeing tens of thousands of cases a year.
The European Union banned exports of British beef and feed in 1996, and millions of British cows were incinerated. But the disease later appeared on the European continent and has reappeared in recent months in Germany after an increase in France.
-- Rachel Gibson (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 28, 2000