2008-01-20 17:47:37 UTC
TASTY mozzarella cheese may be off the menu for millions of Britons as
production is being threatened by an infectious disease spreading
through herds of water buffalo.
Buffalo milk mozzarella is a favourite of celebrity chefs such as
Gordon Ramsay and Nigella Lawson and even Prince Charles is a fan. But
as a result of the Brucellosis infection, more than 32,000 buffalo
will have to be slaughtered causing a dip in production and
affecting exports, officials say.
Farmers in the Campania region around Naples are already comparing the
slaughter to the culling seen in Britain during the foot-and-mouth
crisis in 2001.
The Italian government has set up an emergency commission to try to
fight the spread of the illness and made more than 66 million (£42
Hundreds of dairy farms which produce the "mozzarella di bufala" face
closure with a third of the region's estimated 100,000 livestock being
Brucellosis is a contagious bacterial disease that leads to
miscarriage, infertility and reduced milk production.
It can also pass from infected milk to humans and there are 1,000
reported cases of transmission a year. Symptoms include fever,
vomiting and weight loss; however, the disease is killed off in the
milk pasteurising process.
Farmers fear that the Naples Mafia the Camorra will also siphon
off some of the money put aside to try and combat the infection.
The majority of the mozzarella-producing dairies in the Naples area
are controlled by the Camorra and some vets involved in vaccine
programmes have been threatened.
Some farmers have also been paid by the Camorra to hush up infections
and, as a result, the disease has spread unchecked.
Yesterday, Andrea Cozzolino, the Campania region's agriculture chief,
said: "This is a very serious problem and affects a third of the
"We will be offering affected farmers compensation but we have to try
and stop the spread. Undoubtedly production will be affected as more
than 30,000 animals will have to be put down.
"This will lead to a shortage of supply and speculation which will put
prices up mozzarella is not only a prime domestic product but it is
also one of Italy's main exports.
"This means that price rises will also be felt overseas and production
will be down as a result of the cull."
The full article contains 401 words and appears in The Scotsman
newspaper.Last Updated: 17 January 2008 10:20 PM