London: Beef from cows that are infected with bovine tuberculosis could be being served in UK’s schools and hospitals, it has emerged.

The UK government has admitted that meat from 28,000 diseased cattle is sold every year to catering firms and some supermarkets. The Department for Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is believed to be making £10million a year selling the infected carcasses.

Officials claim the risk of catching the illness from eating infected meat is ‘extremely low’. But Tesco has refused to sell the beef due to public health concerns and Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Burger King and McDonald’s have also chosen to ban it.

Herds are checked for bovine TB every one to four years. Any infected cattle are slaughtered, and the Government pay farmers up to £1,700 per animal in compensation. DEFRA can then sell the meat on to catering firms, processors or supermarkets without providing any warning labels.

It is not clear what companies have bought the meat but Sodexo, Aramark and Compass - which supply food to hospitals and schools - could not deny serving it. Around 70 Britons become infected with bovine tuberculosis every year.

The symptoms are similar to the more common ‘human’ form, which causes a severe cough, loss of appetite and weight loss.–Daily Mail