The UK’s Food Standards Authority (FSA) said that sheep could have been infected with BSE by the same feeds that introduced the disease to cows, the BBC reported.

A statement from the FSA said the preliminary results of tests “could be compatible” with BSE having been in sheep at the time.

Suzi Leather, deputy chair of the FSA, said there was “theoretical risk”, but added: “We are not saying people should stop eating lamb.

“But we are keeping consumers fully in the picture regarding the risk of BSE and sheep; they have a right to be kept informed, not kept in the dark.”

Tests are being carried out on the brains of 156 sheep killed in the early 1990s that were affected by scrapie.

So far, none had shown any signs of BSE, but it was difficult to distinguish BSE “unequivocally” from the many sources of scrapie, the FSA said.

Scrapie and BSE, along with the human form of the condition Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease, are called “spongiform encephalopathies”, because they all reduce the brain to the same spongy appearance. They are untreatable and fatal.

Contaminated feed was banned in 1996. And the FSA says, because sheep do not live as long as cows, any sheep which had eaten contaminated feed would already have died.

To view related research reports, please follow the links below:-

Meat & Meat Products

Meat Hygiene – New Edition

Handbook of Meat Product Technology