View of a cow's head on a hook in an abattoir

View of a cow's head on a hook in an abattoir

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Credit: JAMES KING-HOLMES/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Preventing BSE contamination. View of a cow's head on a hook in an abattoir. The head has been removed from the carcass to prevent the possible transmission of BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy), or mad cow disease, through the food chain. BSE has been linked to the fatal human condition vCJD (new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease). Both these diseases are caused by abnormal virus-like forms of the prion protein PrP gradually destroying the brain. The head will be sprayed with dye to prevent further use. The neck, spinal cord and thymus are also removed from cow carcasses to prevent food contamination. This abattoir is in the Cotswolds, England.

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Keywords: abattoir, bse prevention, cjd prevention, cow, cow head, food industry, head, head on spike, head removal, hook, industrial, on spike, processing

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