The Government was last night forced to defend its plans to use plasma from America for young children as a precaution against the human form of mad cow disease.
Blood safety campaigners - whose relatives were infected with HIV and hepatitis from US blood products - say they are worried by the announcement and have little confidence in Department of Health assurances.
The product is intended for children born after 1995 as they would not have been exposed to BSE through the food chain, a DoH spokesman said.
Critics do not believe the United States imposes tough enough restrictions on the blood collection which means that although American blood may be less likely to be contaminated with vCJD it may be more likely to contain viruses like HIV than British blood.
Many American blood donors also receive payments - which has in the past meant that a high proportion of drug abusers and people with health problems have been donors.
The Government still rejects a simple urine test for vCJD, developed by the controversial North-East scientist Harash Narang, which he says will beat the problem. Last night a spokeswoman for the Department of Health insisted the US blood was the safest option for children aged six and under who have not been exposed to vCJD in meat.
This move follows research last month which proved it was possible to contract vCJD through a blood transfusion.
She said: "We cannot give 100pc, cast-iron guarantees but we have made our decision based on the best possible advice from experts in the field - we want to make blood products as safe as we possibly can."
However, this reassurance was no comfort to Carol Grayson, from Jesmond, Newcastle, whose partner Peter Longstaff was infected with both HIV and hepatitis C from American blood products used to treat his haemophilia.
She has set up Haemophilia Action to campaign on behalf of infected haemophiliacs and has fought a long battle for a public inquiry into the infected blood scandal.
She said: "I was horrified when I heard the Government plans to use American blood for children. I know that regulations on blood collection are supposed to have been tightened up since the 70s when so many haemophiliacs were infected, but I just don't believe it.
"The whole collection of blood in America is tainted by the fact that people are paid to give blood...
"I also know of British and French people giving blood in America in the last year - which is supposed to be totally impossible and against the law. I'm not even convinced that US blood is vCJD free."
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: "We are not going to be using any blood which people have been paid to donate.
"Babies and young children born after January 1, 1996 will be given fresh frozen plasma obtained from the US as a precaution against the theoretical risk of vCJD transmission, there has only been one death from vCJD in the US and that case was probably contracted in the UK.
"We are aware there are more viruses in US blood so as an extra precaution we will use an extra treatment to reduce the risk of blood born viruses."
Doctor's test 'ignored'
Dr Harash Narang, former microbiologist with the Public Health Laboratory Service in Newcastle, opposes the plan.
Author of Death on the Menu, a book on vCJD, Dr Narang has been battling for recognition of his work on the link between BSE and the fatal brain disease.
He now works in Durham supported by North-East frozen food magnate Ken Bell. Long before the Government admitted links between CJD and BSE in 1996 Dr Narang was warning of the risks of eating contaminated meat and he has developed a simple urine test which he says indicates whether a person is likely to develop vCJD.
The test is soon to be piloted in America, Japan and France.
He said: "American blood has far more viruses than British blood. If the Government would use my test they would be able to screen British blood for vCJD very accurately and these people would not be able to give blood."