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Brits selling cattle with tuberculosis for human consumption

July 1, 2013 at 2:50 PM   |   Comments

LONDON, July 1 (UPI) -- British government officials Monday admitted they've been selling cattle slaughtered after becoming infected with bovine tuberculosis for human consumption.

The infected meat is banned by restaurants and most major supermarkets but the government, which pays farmers if their cattle have to be slaughtered, has been selling the carcases to hospitals and the nation's military, The Mirror said.

A spokesman for the British Department for Environment, Food and Rural affairs said the meat poses little to no risk for human consumption if properly prepared. The bovine TB virus can survive at up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit so thoroughly cooked meat poses no risk of infection.

Only about 40 Britons a year are diagnosed with the bovine strain of TB, where about 9,000 are diagnosed with the human strain.

"All meat from cattle slaughtered due to bovine TB must undergo rigorous food safety checks before it can be passed fit for consumption," a government spokesman said. "The Food Standards Agency has confirmed there are no known cases where TB has been transmitted through eating meat and the risk of infection from eating meat, even if raw or undercooked, remains extremely low."

Conservative Member of Parliament Anne McIntosh, chairwoman of the Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs select committee, said people shouldn't be kept in the dark.

"People need to know what they are eating," she said. "We need to know why this meat is being released on the market." 

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