Reading Scientific Services Ltd has gained UKAS accreditation for its BSE testing service - the first and only commercial testing service for BSE in the UK.

The accreditation comes just a couple of months after RSSL first launched the service.

The equipment and testing methodology used by RSSL was developed by Bio-Rad. It is considered to be the most sensitive and reliable test for detecting the BSE prion in brain stem material taken from the animal carcass. It is the prion protein that is thought to cause BSE in cattle, and is considered by some to be the causative agent of new variant CJD in humans.

In addition to offering a test for the BSE prion, RSSL also offers alternative methods to screen for the presence of specified risk material such as CNS tissue and brain.

"We anticipate that a test for the BSE prion will become a necessary part of the 'due diligence' process in the meat industry," says Dr Gibson of RSSL.

"It offers the possibility of setting up a positive release system for all carcasses entering the food chain."