Bovine spongiform encephalopathy  (BSE) should not be dismissed as just a European phenomenon, with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warning that the problem could spread to as many as 100 countries across the globe.

“Our research suggests that at least 100 countries are at risk from BSE because of cattle or meat meal imported from Europe during the 1980s,” said Jacques Diouf, director-general of the FAO, yesterday (February 8th)

The FAO urged countries that have imported meat and bone meal (MBM) or cattle from the EU to ban the feeding of MBM and increase surveillance to try to eradicate the disease.

Eastern Europe and Asia imported large quantities of meat meal from Britain during this and should not discount the risk that the problem may now pose. The FAO is reluctant to spell out the individual countries that might be at risk but countries like Egypt, Iran, Iraq and India imported MBM from the UK during the 1980s.