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Saturday, 20 October, 2001, 09:36 GMT 10:36 UK
FSA admits error over baby food
Baby being fed
Many parents remain concerned over baby food ingredients
The Food Standards Agency has admitted its chairman wrongly asserted that British sheep were not used in baby food production.

Sir John Krebs said lamb from the UK was not being used in baby food.

He suggested there was a voluntary agreement by the food industry to use lamb only from countries like New Zealand.

The risk of BSE in sheep remains theoretical and the FSA is not advising against the consumption of lamb.

FSA spokeswoman
Sir John hoped the assertion would be reassuring for those who feared sheep might harbour BSE.

But a spokesman for the baby food industry, Heather Payne, told the BBC manufacturers are still using British lamb.

"The lamb that baby food manufacturers use comes from a number of different sources. But it includes the UK, New Zealand, France and Germany.

"We had a meeting earlier this year with the Food Standards Agency and we explained all our procedures and all our operations to them.

"They advised us there was no need to change our source of lamb."

There have been fears that BSE could be present in the national flock, sparking fears of a mass slaughter.

'Not advising not to eat lamb'

BSE-infected meat is widely believed to be the source of the lethal vCJD illness in humans

The FSA issued a statement on Saturday which said: "The risk of BSE in sheep remains theoretical and the FSA is not advising against the consumption of lamb.

"This advice applies to all consumers and all age groups.

"The agency was advised earlier this year by major baby food manufacturers that they are choosing to purchase lamb from scrapie-free sources, eg New Zealand.

"While we understand that not all baby food products necessarily fall within this category, this does not give the agency any new cause for concern, nor should it alarm consumers."

There have previously been concerns, fiercely denied by the baby food industry, that mechanically-recovered meat from heavily infected areas of cattle could have been used in the 1980s.

The FSA has joined in the chorus of criticism after it was revealed on Friday that scientists investigating whether BSE was in sheep had actually been examining the brains of cattle.

The BBC's Anna Hill
"They do use British lamb in their products and the FSA had told them there was no need to stop"
See also:

19 Oct 01 | Sci/Tech
Inquiries launched into BSE blunder
17 Jul 00 | Health
Baby food firms deny mad cow risk
19 Jan 00 | Health
CJD 'will not be an epidemic'
16 Jul 00 | Health
School meals link to CJD deaths
28 Apr 00 | Health
CJD: Anguish of a victim's family
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