Japan’s Health Ministry has said it is waiting for final results of tests for a possible eighth case of mad cow disease.

If the tests prove positive for BSE, it would be the third case discovered in Japan in less than a month, bringing the total to eight since the disease was first uncovered in the country in September 2001.

The first few cases of mad cow disease in Japan hit the country’s food sector hard, causing earnings at restaurants and meat packers to fall, and destroying consumer confidence. Meat consumption and public confidence in the meat industry had recently begun to return to normal.

The Japanese government has allocated ¥207bn (US$1.73bn) to tackle BSE in the fiscal year to March, reported Reuters.