While the local authorities yesterday added the Irish to their list of visitors who have to be disinfected and checked for food products and they awaiting developments from Germany, the Balearic Ministry for Agriculture announced that a second suspected case of “mad cow” has been detected in Minorca. While the final results from the Algete laboratory in Madrid have yet to be received, the Minorcan farm where the suspected case has been found has been sealed off. The first tests were carried out at the recently opened laboratory at the Balearic Animal Institute, but in accordance with the mad cow controls, tests have to be also carried out in Madrid. The suspect cow, a Fresion, was apparently born in 1991 and was ten-years-old and not destined for human consumption. The local Agriculture Ministry has isolated the farm and is now testing the rest of the herd in accordance with the Ministry's mad cow guidelines. The remains of the suspect cow have been exhumed and are being kept under strict controls. The first case of mad cow in the Balearics was detected in Minorca in January and confirmation of this second case will send the slowly rising sales of beef plummeting again and also force hotels and restaurants to reconsider their menus with Easter just around the corner. Market surveys carried out last month indicated that while a minority of Balearic consumers were gradually starting to purchase meat again, the most sceptical consumers were tourists from central Europe. The United Kingdom, in particular, is well aware of the dangers of “mad cow” - not to mention the foot-and-mouth outbreak.

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