Tests on a ten-year-old cow in a large herd jointly owned by two kibbutzim in the Golan Heights have confirmed that it died of BSE. THis is the first incidence of BSE in Israel.

A brain biopsy was carried out by the World Organization for Animal Health in Bern, Switzerland. Israel's Veterinary Services plan to implement an emergency plan at a cost of NIS40m (US$8.1m) which calls for slaughtering every cow over the age of 30 months from the 1,300-head herd in the Golan Heights, considered to be one of the largest in Israel.

Trade sources in Tel Aviv commented that beef consumption in Israel is likely to decline. Israeli beef consumption amounts to 80,000 tonnes per year, of which 40,000 tonnes are imported, mostly from Latin American countries.

The plan also calls for stopping sales of cattle for slaughter to the Palestinian Authority. Dr Oded Nir, Head of Israel's Veterinary Services, was quoted in Haaretz saying that "even if the cow was infected, the Veterinary Services did not intend to order a cull all the herd."

An injunction issued this week by the Veterinary Services suspended the slaughter of cattle over 30 months "until final results of the tests are received." A spokesman for the Veterinary Services asserted that the disease is transmitted only through consumption of beef and internal organs "and not by drinking milk or through contact with the cattle".

By Aaron Priel, just-food.com correspondent