While major meat retailers such as Tesco reject product from cows with bTB, the federal Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) sells the beef to some caterers and food processors who supply schools, hospitals and the military, reported the Times Saturday.
Defra confirmed that such meat is sold for human consumption, but said it is subject for further inspection first.
“All meat from cattle slaughtered due to bovine TB must undergo rigorous food safety checks before it can be passed fit for consumption,” said a Defra spokeswoman. “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.”
Tuberculosis bacteria is killed by cooking meat. However, evidence has shown that the bacteria can be transmitted to humans when handling raw meat.
“Cooking this meat would be an additional safety step, but we would emphasise the risk even before cooking is very low,” said the Defra spokeswoman.
The beef from cows with bTB sold in the UK is not marked to differentiate it from other beef, reported the Times.
The UK badger population is thought to contribute to the transmission of bTB among cows. Tens of thousands of badgers have been culled in an attempt to curb the spread of the disease.© Food Safety News