UK farmers, retailers and consumers were alarmed this weekend as fears emerged that BSE, commonly known as mad cow disease, could enter the human food chain by other animals, including chicken, sheep and pigs. It is being postulated that animals with no outward sign of ill health could be carriers for the disease, which decimated the UK cattle farming industry when it first broke out in 1996. Scientists at St Mary's Hospital, west London, found that the so-called "species barrier" which prevents the spread of BSE from one species to another may not be as watertight as previously belived.However, scientists and government are urging calm, with Hugh Pennington, professor of bacteriolology at the University of Aberdeen confident that "we are now in the end game for BSE."