Prepared Foods January 31, 2005 enewsletter

Mad cow disease has been found in a goat, the first time the brain-wasting affliction that ravaged European cattle herds and killed at least 100 people has been diagnosed in another animal, the European Union (EU) said.

"A suspected case of BSE in a goat slaughtered in France in 2002 has been confirmed by a panel of European scientists," the EU Commission said in a statement.

Scientists initially thought the animal, born in 2000, had scrapie, a disease from the same family as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), the formal name for mad cow disease.

The commission underlined there was little risk of humans catching the disease due to strict food hygiene and animal feed rules.

"Precautionary measures to protect consumers from this eventuality have been applied in the EU for several years... Any possible risk to consumers is minimal," it said.

The EU's food safety authority said it was too early to analyze the risk from goat meat and further checks were needed.

"Important information gaps do not allow at this stage the quantification of BSE-related risk with regard to the consumption of goat meat," it said.

The 25-nation bloc has approximately 11.6 million goats, with the largest herds found in France, Spain and Greece.

Until now, the risk of mad cow disease jumping species has focused on sheep, not goats.