Fears have been raised that BSE, or mad cow disease, is on the increase in France. Last year, the French Agricultural Ministry reported 31 cases. This year, a recent discovery of an infected cow in the Rhone region brings the total number of incidences to over 40.

In keeping with policy instituted after the EU ban on British beef in 1996, both the cow and its surrounding herd were slaughtered.

The increased tally of cases is probably a result of the official attempt to clamp down on BSE, linked to the fatal brain-wasting human disease, vCJD, which has meant that authorities are routinely checking more animals than before. They expect that new cases will appear for another two years to come.