A German air force plane carrying 15 tonnes of relief supplies for victims of hurricane Katrina was denied authorisation to land by US authorities, Der Spiegel and now the Associated Press are reporting.

The plane, bound for a Florida airbase was turned away because US authorities feared that the 9,000 NATO combat rations it was carrying could carry mad cow disease. The ban was later lifted, and the plane delivered its supplies.

According to Der Spiegel, U.S. authorities have also banned the distribution of Russian and British aid over BSE fears.

The magazine also reports the NATO rations are certified as BSE-free and are used by both U.S. and European forces in Afganistan.

(Incidentally, the German Air Force’s PR machine is in overdrive about their relief missions, likening their flights to the American “raisin bombers” of the Berlin airlift).