Germany and Italy are due to outline new measures to combat the spread of BSE in their countries this week.

Germany is to draw up a new set of measures to combat BSE following an inter-departmental row among ministers about plans announced last week, while ministers in Italy will meet on Tuesday to discuss urgent measures to destroy high-risk animals and animal feed in order to prevent the spread of mad cow disease.

The row in Germany ensued after the agriculture and environment ministries published a batch of reform proposals last Thursday for the German farm sector, including DM500m (US$240m) investment in ecological farming practices. Agriculture Minister Karl-Heinz Funke, however, did not give his approval to the plan and had proposed a separate plan that contained no such investment offers.

Funke has been criticised in the German media for falsely claiming the country was BSE-free until the first officially acknowledged case in November 2000. A newspaper at the weekend reported that a top zoology professor had informed him last January that a BSE victim had been found in Germany more than a decade ago.

Italy has ordered meat-based animal feed and leftovers of slaughtered cows to be burned in a bid to prevent the brain-wasting disease from spreading.

Only two confirmed cases of BSE have been detected in Italy. No German cases have been confirmed of new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), the disease in humans linked to BSE and which has killed over 80 people, mainly in Britain.

To read our new feature on the EU's response to BSE, click here.