TOULOUSE, France (AP) _ Amid spiraling fears about mad cow disease, France's environment minister said Saturday that she had asked the government for an immediate ban on animal feed containing meat or bone meal.

Dominique Voynet's request to Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, made at the opening of the Green Party's annual congress in the southern city of Toulouse, follows other precautionary measures taken this week around Europe to prevent spread of the disease. Mad cow disease has been linked to a variant strand of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which affects humans.

After tons of potentially tainted meat wound up on supermarket shelves several weeks ago, schools across France have taken beef off the menu in cafeterias. And on Friday, the Agriculture Ministry announced a one-year ban on sweetbreads, a delicacy widely served in French restaurants, which is made from a cow's thymus gland.

Also Friday, the Swiss Red Cross announced it would be severely limiting blood donations from people who spent time in Britain, where the beef scare exploded in 1996.

Earlier this week, French President Jacques Chirac also said that animal feed with meat or bone meal should be outlawed immediately, instead of waiting for the results of a government-ordered study by the country's food safety agency

In contrast, Jospin has favored awaiting the study's results _ intent on calming down public concern.

The feed is feared to transmit mad cow disease, and was banned for cattle in 1996. Voynet's request applied to other animals, such as pigs.

In a survey by to be published Sunday in Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper, 70 percent of French people said they were worried about mad cow. Twenty-three percent of people said they were not. Still, 54 percent said they had no intention of changing their eating habits.

The number of cases of mad cow disease tripled in France to 90 this year. French authorities say the increase is due to the implementation of special detection tests.

Two people are known to have died in France from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease _ compared to 81 people in Britain.