West Germany joined France today in banning British beef imports because of the "mad cow" disease that has killed thousands of cattle and prompted many Britons to shun the meat.
However, the European Community offered a helping hand to Britain's cattle industry by offering to buy 20,600 tons of meat.
British officials say the beef poses no threat to people who eat it. That country's Meat and Livestock Commission accused the Germans of responding to fears about a flood of cheap British beef, rather than concern for public health.
France, which normally purchases more than half of Britain's exported beef, imposed its ban Wednesday. French officials said some meat might be tainted by the so-called "mad cow" disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy.