Food Standards Agency plays down TB meat risk

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

The food safety watchdog said that eating meat from TB-infected animals posed 'a very low risk' to human health
The food safety watchdog said that eating meat from TB-infected animals posed 'a very low risk' to human health
The Food Standards Agency Scotland (FSAS) has reassured the public that meat infected with bovine tuberculosis (bTB) poses little risk to human health, after a newspaper revealed tens of thousands of diseased cattle, slaughtered after testing positive for the disease, were being sold for human consumption.

The meat from about 28,000 diseased animals a year is sold without warning to processors or consumers of its origin, according to a report in The Sunday Times. ​Such meat is banned by most supermarkets and burger chains.

But Charles Milne, director FSAS, insisted that the meat was safe to eat. “We can never say the risk is zero,” ​Milne told BBC Radio 4’s The Today​ programme. “But this has been looked at by a number of committees over the years, and all of them have concluded the risk is very low.”

Human food chain

Carcases were inspected for bTB at abattoirs and the meat released into the food chain if TB was found to be localised or within only one organ, he continued. When TB was found in more than one organ, the meat was diverted from the human food chain.

“There is no requirement to label these animals​ [infected with bTB] and all meat that comes from abattoirs is safe for human consumption,” ​said Milne.

Meanwhile, about 40 people test positive for bovine bTB each year, compared with 9,000 who contract TB.

Last month, an outbreak of TB hospitalised four workers at 2 Sisters Food Group’s site at Dial Lane in the West Midlands. But there was no suggestion the outbreak was linked to bTB.

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