WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Pentagon is barring thousands of military members and their families from donating blood, starting next week, as a new precaution against mad cow disease.

The Pentagon said Friday the restriction is in line with guidance from the Food and Drug Administration. It will disqualify an estimated 18 percent of the active-duty force, or about 250,000 people.

Dr. J. Jarrett Clinton, the acting assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, said that starting Sept. 14, several new categories of people will be barred from donating blood. They are:

_ Anyone who has traveled or lived in Britain from 1980 through 1996 for a cumulative period of three months or more.

_ People who have been stationed in Europe from 1980 through 1996 for a cumulative period of six months or more.

_ Others who have traveled or lived in Europe from 1980 to present for a cumulative period of five years.

_ Anyone who has received a transfusion in Britain since 1980.

_ Anyone who has received bovine insulin produced in Britain since 1980.

Clinton said these were precautionary measures against ``the very small theoretical risk'' of the human form of mad cow disease.

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Pentagon: http://www.defenselink.mil