A marathon sixteen-hour session between EU agricultural ministers in Brussels has finally resulted in agreement that only cattle aged over 30 months and "at risk" from BSE contamination should be including in a Europe wide testing programme, due to start on 1 January. Despite being designed to combat flagging consumer confidence, the new disease control measures are actually less stringent than those expected. Since testing began in France, dozens of unexpected cases of mad cow disease have been uncovered and, backed by the European Commission, the country had demanded the implementation of a wider testing programme, to include over six million apparently healthy cows across Europe.