The federal veterinary office has asked the government to widen a ban on the use of bone meal in animal feed. The proposal follows the discovery of two new cases of mad cow disease in cattle born after the current restrictions were introduced.
The discovery of the latest cases have galvanized the authorities, who thought a ban on animal rests in cattle feed introduced in 1996 would be enough to wipe out mad cow disease, or BSE, in Switzerland.
After two days of emergency talks between experts and representatives of the parties concerned, the veterinary office on Friday recommended extending the ban to chicken and pig feed as well.
The proposal follows fears that farmers or food producers have not been separating the food for different farm animals stringently enough. A recent British report on BSE suggested that as little as one gram of infected tissue was enough to infect a cow.
The veterinary office said it now felt that little more could be done to protect consumers.
The use of certain organs in animal feed was banned in 1990, but a ban on feeding cattle with animal rests was only introduced in 1996. At the time, Switzerland had the highest incidence of mad cow disease on mainland Europe.
The public health scare over BSE is related to fears that it can be transferred to humans in the form of the deadly Creuzfeldt Jakob Disease (CJD). The scientific evidence is not conclusive, but the fact that the two have surfaced in the same areas and at the same time has strengthened the thesis that they are linked.
So far, 80 people have died of CJD in Britain, which has had by far the highest number of cases of mad cow disease. Three people have died in France and one in Ireland, which have both had a BSE problem.