Are Czechs threatened by mad cow disease?
On Monday the Czech Republic banned the import of French and Portuguese beef, in light of new reports of BSE, or mad cow disease as it's commonly called. So far, the experts say and the people feel, the Czech Republic is safe from the threat of BSE. But precautions are being taken and awareness of the threat is, it seems, increasing. Olga Szantova went to her local butcher shop, to find out just how aware people really were:
So that, it seems, is the attitude of Czech consumers towards beef. And what about the authorities? There is no tradition of feeding bone meal to cattle in the Czech Republic, in fact the practice is forbidden. But it has been used for pork and poultry feed. So, can anybody rule out any exceptions?
Agriculture minister Jan Fencl says he doesn't believe there are any. But, just to be on the safe side, he has promised clemency for anyone who comes forward and admits to having broken the rule. As for the future, much stricter controls are to be introduced. And beef imports from France and Portugal have now been banned, following a similar ban on beef from Britain and Switzerland, which was imposed in 1994. Meanwhile, the Czech market seems unaffected. As one of the ladies at the butcher's told me: