Mad cow scare

Published: Friday 15 October 1999

saudi arabia has banned the import of beef from South Africa because of concerns over "mad cow" disease, despite assurances from South Africa that its beef is safe, reported the daily Asharq al-Awsat . The South African government says the country has never been affected by the disease, which came to prominence in 1996 when beef from the uk was banned globally after an outbreak of the disease. Saudi Arabia, where meat is the staple diet for the 18 million population, imposed a ban on British beef in 1996.

South Africa's director of food safety and veterinary public health, Gideon Bruckner, strongly denied the Saudi Arabian claim that South African beef could be infected with the disease. "I don't know where this claim comes from. It is utter nonsense. We are free from mad cow disease. There are no scientific reasons why they should refuse our exports," he said. The Red Meat Producers' Organisation said South Africa had been conducting World Trade Organisation-approved tests to confirm its beef was not infected with the disease.

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