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Ticino bans beef from school canteens

The Swiss canton of Ticino has followed the city of Geneva in banning beef from school canteens. France and Italy recently took similar measures, amid growing fears about beef potentially infected by mad cow disease, or BSE.

Cantonal authorities issued a statement saying the ban was a precautionary measure. It applies to all secondary schools, but kindergartens and primary schools - which come under the jurisdiction of communal authorities - are not included.

Concerns over the safety of beef products has risen in the wake of the discovery in Britain of a number of new cases of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), the new human strain of mad cow disease.

Last Friday, the city of Geneva banned all beef from school canteens after parents raised concerns about infected meat. The municipal authorities said the suspension would last until they were assured of the quality of beef in Switzerland.

"The ban is a purely precautionary measure in response to the grave concern raised by parents," said Philippe d'Espine, a spokesman for the City of Geneva.

Kindergartens and primary schools in the city will not be serving beef to children until further notice. D'Espine said the decision affects between 10,000 and 20,000 children.

Last week, the Swiss Red Cross announced that people who have spent time in Britain are to be banned from donating blood in Switzerland. Again, the decision was prompted by fears that supplies could be contaminated with CJD.

Nearly 80 people have died in Britain of the disease.


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