The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has confirmed that a six-year-old cow born into a herd in central Scotland has contracted BSE.

The cow’s herd was accepted into the Beef Assurance Scheme (BAS) in January 1997, a scheme that implements stringent safeguards that are meant to ensure that the cattle have less risk of contracting mad cow disease than other herds. The scheme also allows meat from cattle up to 42 months to be sold for human consumption, rather than the 30 months threshold for all other cattle.

DEFRA has notified the UK Foods Standards Agency (FSA) of the case and yesterday the FSA Scotland stressed that the cow had not entered the food chain because it was sold to a non-BAS herd in November 1998 and therefore it poses no threat to food safety.

Dr George Paterson, Director of the FSA Scotland, told Food Navigator: “We have requested assurances that all BAS herds comply fully with the requirements of the scheme. We want to be satisfied that controls are working, as well as get answers as to what happened in this case.”