Central and east European agriculture ministers agreed at a meeting on Thursday to harmonise efforts to keep their countries free of mad cow disease. Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) has not been discovered in any state belonging to the Central European Free Trade Association (CEFTA), which includes Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic.But CEFTA has agreed to step up testing of high-risk animals, aiming to restore consumer confidence in beef. The ministers issued a joint declaration stating that their countries intended to prohibit the feeding of ruminants with meat and bone meal. There would also be selective regulation of imports from BSE-affected countries. CEFTA states will follow European Union procedures, "assuming that they apply the principle of preliminary precautions." They expected to be fully informed by the EU and to receive full observer status, the declaration said. CEFTA states will also intensify testing of high risk animals. CEFTA farm ministers will next meet in Sofia, Bulgaria between May 3 and 5.