MAD COW DISEASE FACTOIDS INDEX
cow disease is important today, not just as a deadly food-borne
illness, but also as a powerful symbol of all that is wrong
the industrialization of farm animals." ( Eric
Schlosser, "Fast Food Nation," Afterword: pg. 272)
FACTOIDS/INFO OF NOTE
FINDS 8TH CASE OF BSE: (08/23/06): "Canada has identified
its eighth case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE),
cow disease, just a few weeks
after the seventh case. The illness was found in an Alberta
beef cow estimated to be between 8 and 10 years old, the
Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) announced. Given
the cow's age, it was probably exposed to the disease either
before or shortly after Canada banned the feeding of cattle
protein to cattle and other ruminants in 1997, the agency
said. The cow was tested in the course of Canada's BSE
surveillance program, which targets high-risk cattle."
STILL PREVENTING ONE OF NATION'S LARGEST MEATPACKERS FROM
TESTING ITS CATTLE FOR
DISEASE: (09/13/06): " ... [the] USDA can
no longer ignore the overwhelming public support for allowing
such as Creekstone Farms
to voluntarily test all of its production. Testing will
give consumers at home and abroad added confidence in U.S.
beef and improve America's trade status with countries
such as South Korea and Japan. At the same time, USDA must
apply its trade policy fairly and reasonably, enabling
facilities to export beef even while those that fail inspections
are held back temporarily. It is the right thing to do;
it will create U.S. jobs, grow our economy and help us
regain global market share.
John Stewart is the chief executive officer and founder
of Creekstone Farms Premium Beef in Arkansas City."
11/16/06]: MAD SHEEP -- THE USDA'S WAR ON
SMALL FARMERS & CONSUMERS: (09/15/06): " Foreword to the Book by Ronnie Cummins...
What we are confronted with
Sheep is a government conspiracy. A politically inspired ritual of fabricated
charges, manipulated science, and doctored evidence. A modern witch-hunt to sacrifice
the innocent in order to protect the massive profits and scandalous practices
of the guilty. A diabolically orchestrated, media-scripted search and destroy
operation in the Vermont countryside, designed not just to murder some innocent
sheep and thereby exorcize mounting consumer fears about food safety and mad
cow disease, but also to turn us all into sheep, to fan the flames of fear and
ignorance, and to foster our continued dependence on an abusive Big Brother government
that has promised to protect us from the contemporary terrors that lurk, well,
...Armed with $90 billion in taxpayer money each year, the USDA is waging war
against all of us consumers, family farmers, farm animals, and the environment.
The direct and collateral damage of this war includes rampant water, air, and
food pollution; an epidemic of cancer, birth defects, obesity, and hormone disruption;
pollution by genetically engineered crops; an unsustainable, massive venting
of climate-destabilizing greenhouse gases; pesticide and antibiotic contamination;
proliferation of junk food; systematic exploitation of small farmers, farm workers,
and slaughterhouse workers; and the dumping of millions of tons of subsidized
crops and meat at below the cost of production on developing nations, thereby
destroying the livelihoods of millions of small farmers and rural communities."
[The full foreward is well worth reading for more behind-the-scenes descriptions
of what Mr. Cummins, and to a similiar degree Howard, have been through addressing
[Posted 11/16/06]: CASE OF MAD COW DISEASE FOUND IN FRANCE: (09/18/06): " A
cow in central France has tested positive for mad cow disease, the country's
fifth detected case this year, local authorities said. Local veterinary chief
Dominique Chabanet said Monday it was probably infected by eating animal-based
flour, before its use as cow feed was banned in 1996. France has recorded a total
of 15 cases of the human form of the disease, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease,
since it first appeared in 1996..."
[Posted 11/16/06]: SCRAPIE PROGRAM ON HOLD
IN VERMONT: (09/24/06): "
...Scrapie, which only affects sheep and goats, and mostly black-face breeds,
such as Suffolk and Hampshire, is not transferred to humans. A sheep from a flock
that has scrapie is safe to eat. The disease destroys the animal's brain, but
it often takes more than five years to surface after exposure. There is no cure.
The disease gets its name from the sheep's attempt to "scrape" its
fleece off its back, as part its dementia from the debilitating brain disease.
Other symptoms include hopping like a rabbit, shaking, stumbling, lip smacking
and frequent itching. Scrapie is in the "mad cow" class of diseases.
But scrapie and bovine spongiform encephalopathy are different diseases, according
to USDA literature, and scrapie poses no risk to human health.
The USDA and the sheep industry have been trying to eradicate sheep scrapie since
1951 with limited success. A renewed effort, launched in 2001, called for a Sept.
30, 2006, deadline for states to have scrapie flock certification programs in
place. Vermont is not yet in compliance with the federal regulation. Vermont
Agriculture Secretary Stephen Kerr said last week that Vermont will not be in
compliance because of the state's now-shelved "premises registration" program.
Kerr said he had hoped to use the premises registration program which
ran into sustained public opposition during a series of public hearings this
summer to satisfy the federal requirement for the scrapie certification
program. But the registered flocks account for only a fraction of Vermont's estimated
[Very edited from:
[Posted 11/16/06]: US BEEF MAKING TENTATIVE RETURN
TO NORTH ASIAN MARKET: (09/24/06): " American beef is back
in the Japanese market and slated to return to South Korea
soon. But for America's beef exporters, who lost two of
their three largest
in 2003 after a few cases of mad cow disease were discovered in the United States,
it is going to be an uphill struggle to rebuild their north Asian business. Despite
consumer fears in north Asia about possible bovine spongiform encephalopathy,
more commonly known as mad cow disease, American beef is returning to shops and
restaurants in this region with ceremonial flourish. Staff at Tokyo's popular
Yoshinoya restaurant chain welcome patrons back to sample dishes made with American
beef. Some diners waited as long as 12 hours to make sure they would get a taste
- as supplies are limited for now.
Ambassador Thomas Schieffer has been heavily promoting U.S. beef to help American
exporters rebuild their nearly $1.5-billion annual business in Japan. Amb. Thomas
Schieffer being served American roast beef Amb. Thomas Schieffer being served
American roast beef. The ambassador, leaving another beef promotional lunch in
downtown Tokyo, joked that his cholesterol count must have soared in recent days
after eating American beef for nearly every meal. But he says what is important
is Japan's appetite for U.S. meat..."
[Very edited from:
[Posted 11/16/06]: EXPERT
SAYS U.S. NEEDS TO BEEF UP PROTECTION OF FOOD SUPPLY: (09/25/06): "
The United States needs to continue taking steps to protect its food supply from
terrorism just as it would its buildings, airports and other elements of its
infrastructure, FBI deputy director John S. Pistole said Monday. "The threat
from agroterrorism may not be widely recognized, but the threat is real and the
impact could be devastating," Pistole said. "The recent E. coli outbreak
in California spinach has captured the public attention even without a terror
nexus. Pistole, keynote speaker at the second International Symposium on Agroterrorism,
pointed to a nonterrorism example, a single case of mad cow disease in the United
States in 2003, to illustrate the potential impact.
Days after the discovery, 53 countries banned U.S. beef imports. The economic
loss to the U.S. cattle industry from the loss of beef imports just to Japan
was more than $2 billion a year," Pistole said. "Almost three years
later, countries have reopened their borders to U.S. beef, but exports still
have not reached 2003 levels." He said while there was no "specific
communicated threat at this time," the "absence of a communicated threat
does not prove the absence of a threat." The U.S. food and agriculture industry
employs about one in eight Americans and is important not only to Americans,
but because of its massive exports, to much of the world, as well, Pistole said. "The
bottom line is that agriculture, just like buildings, bridges and tunnels, is
a critical infrastructure in need of defense," he said.
Barry Erlick, president of BJE Associates, a scientific and technical consulting
firm, said the U.S. food supply faces threats from livestock diseases around
the world... Because of the high concentration of livestock in various sections
of the country, one infected animal could conceivably infect scores of other
animals, he said."
[Posted 11/16/06]: U.S. BEEF GROUP SPENDS
ON ADS, BARBECUES TO WOO JAPAN CONSUMERS:
The U.S. Meat Export Federation is running full page ads in Japanese newspapers
that cost as much as 79 million yen ($681,000) each to convince consumers American
beef is safe to eat. The biggest supermarket chains don't buy it. Repairing the
image of U.S. beef after it was banned in Japan because of mad cow disease has
fallen to Philip Seng, the chief executive officer of the U.S. Meat Export group,
which has Tyson Foods Inc. and Cargill Inc. among its members. He said in an
interview the U.S. industry may have lost $5 billion since Japan first imposed
the ban in December 2003. The ad spending, along with barbecue events and a new
website are part of Seng's strategy to convince Aeon Co. and Seven & I Holdings
Co., Japan's two biggest supermarket chains, to put U.S. beef back on the shelves
after the government lifted the ban in July. He says demand is growing and supply
shortages are a problem.
The U.S. Meat Export group will run a series of consumer and trade campaigns
running up to Christmas and into spring 2007 to regain Japanese customers lost
to Australian beef suppliers. The group said the newspaper ads are "only
a beginning of the campaigns.'' Seng declined to say what his spending budget
[Very edited from:
[Posted 11/16/06]: JAPAN IMPORTS OF U.S.
BEEF SLUMP AFTER BAN LIFTED: (09/28/06): " Japanese
imports of U.S. beef totaled only 105 tonnes in August, the first full month
of shipments since Tokyo reopened the market to meat from the United
government data showed on Thursday. That figure marks a plunge from the 22,000-25,000
tonnes of U.S. beef that industry officials say Japan was importing each month
in 2003 before it imposed a ban following the discovery of a case of mad-cow
disease in the United States. Tokyo briefly lifted the ban at the end of last
year, but closed its borders again about a month later in January when inspectors
found forbidden meat parts in a U.S. shipment. Industry officials have said that
U.S. beef will only make a gradual return to the Japanese market partly due to
the lack of sufficient volumes of meat that meets Tokyo's requirements.
Philip Seng, president of the U.S. Meat Export Federation, said on September
20 that Japan's purchase of U.S. beef will likely be a modest 15,000 tonnes this
year. Japan was once the top importer of U.S. beef, buying 240,000 tonnes valued
at $1.4 billion in 2003. That accounted for nearly 30 percent of total beef supplies
in Japan. Tokyo agreed to resume imports of U.S. beef in late July on condition
that the meat only comes from cattle aged up to 20 months. All specified risk
material must also be eliminated. Washington is pressing Japan to relax the rules
so that it is in line with an international standard that allows trade in boneless
beef from animals aged up to 30 months."
[Posted 11/16/06]: JAPANESE CONFIRM 29TH CASE OF MAD COW DISEASE: (09/28/06): " Japanese
authorities... have confirmed the country's 29th case of mad cow disease. The
Agriculture Ministry said tests had confirmed that a 75-month-old
cow from a farm on the northern island of Hokkaido had been infected with mad
cow disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). 'The cow will
be incinerated so that it will not be used as fodder or food for human beings,'
the ministry said in a written statement. The authorities run mad cow tests on
all animals to be slaughtered for consumption."
[Posted 11/16/06]: MAD COW BURGERS 'KILLED
MY SON': (09/29/06): " The mother of a man who died
from the human form of mad cow disease said she believes
burgers caused her son's illness. Margaret Marshall was
after an inquest into the death of her 30-year-old son Stephen which concluded
he contracted variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) through eating contaminated
beef. Mrs Marshall, from Richmond, North Yorkshire, said the father of one had
probably become infected 10 years before, when he used to eat burgers regularly.
She said: 'I think it was from when he was about 18 or 19, when he was
travelling about a lot. He used to live on burgers.' She added: 'It's
a devastating illness, I would not wish it on anybody.' Mr Marshall was
diagnosed with vCJD last December. He died in March.
Doctors believe exposure to mad cow disease (BSE) could be widespread in the
UK despite there being only 160 vCJD cases so far identified. Earlier this year,
British scientists said the number of people infected could be far higher than
originally thought because of a longer incubation period. They believe the time
between infection with BSE and developing vCJD could be more than 50 years."
[Posted 11/16/06]: SCHWARZENEGGER SIGNS BILL THAT ENDS SECRECY
ABOUT MEAT RECALLS: (10/02/06): " California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
has signed a bill, SB 611 (Speier), that allows California public health officers
to notify the public of the names
of retailers that receive USDA-recalled meat and poultry, so that consumers can
better protect themselves from food-borne illnesses. In 2002, California's
Department of Health Services (DHS) signed a secrecy agreement with USDA, agreeing
not to release the names of the stores and restaurants where tainted, USDA-recalled
beef and poultry have been shipped and sold. Federal and California state agencies
maintain that secrecy is necessary in order to protect the proprietary interests
of the beef and poultry industries. But eighty percent of Californians believe
that the public should be told the names of retail stores and restaurants that
receive and sell potentially contaminated, USDA-recalled beef and poultry, according
to a 2006 Field Research Corporation survey. Greater than eight in ten Californians
(84%) favor mandatory recalls when unacceptable levels of contaminants are found
in beef and poultry products, compared to just 11% who favor the current system
of voluntary company recalls.
In 2004, California was one of seven states that received a shipment of beef
products subject to a USDA recall because it included meat and bones from the
first U.S. cow that tested positive for mad cow disease (the country's
third confirmed case of mad cow disease was discovered on March 10, 2006 in Alabama).
But California consumers had no way of knowing which grocery stores and restaurants
received the products because the state had agreed with the USDA to keep that
information secret. The state's secrecy agreement covers all recalls of
unsafe beef and poultry not just those that involve mad cow disease. The
names of retailers selling recalled beef and poultry products tainted with other
hazards, such as E. coli and listeria, are also kept secret from the public under
the current agreement."
[Very edited from:
[Posted 11/16/06]: ELK EQUIVALENT OF "MAD COW DISEASE" A CONCERN IN IDAHO: (10/02/06): " Fish
and Game officials are looking for four domestic elk believed to be ear-tagged
and roaming near the town of Chubbuck, Idaho. It's not known where
the elk came
from, but it's raising more questions about the security of farm-raised elk and
what could happen should they come into contact with wild elk. This latest case
comes on the heels of another high-profile escape last month. When more than
100 domestic elk took off from a hunting reserve in Eastern Idaho, Gov. Jim Risch
ordered that they be shot on sight. The fear was that they might pollute the
wild elk gene pool and possibly spread disease, most notably the deer and elk
equivalent of mad cow disease.
There is still a lot unknown about Chronic Wasting Disease, the brain disorder
that kills deer and elk. Researchers still don't know what causes it or exactly
how the disease is transmitted among animals. It hasn't shown up in Idaho yet,
but because of the severity of the disease, state wildlife officials aren't taking
any chances. "It's a situation where the state needs to remain vigilant.
We have never found the disease here and we need to make sure we take all steps
necessary not to have it enter Idaho," said John Chatburn, Department of
Agriculture. Since about 2002, Chatburn's department has required that all domestic
elk be tested for Chronic Wasting Disease when they die. There are also rules
against allowing elk into the state that come from ranches where CWD has occurred
in the last five years. To date, there is no proof that any humans have been
infected by CWD. However, scientists still do not understand the potential risk
it poses to public health."
[Posted 11/16/06]: SIMPLE EYE TEST COULD SPOT ALZHEIMER'S EARLY ON: (10/02/06): " Scanning
the eyes with lasers could help detect signs of Alzheimer's even
symptoms of the disease appear in the brain. These laser tests could improve
patients' chances of starting Alzheimer's treatments earlier, before the onset
of irreparable damage to the brain....In 2003, Goldstein [an interdisciplinary
neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School] and his colleagues discovered that
the exact same malformed amyloid beta proteins that are hallmarks of Alzheimer's
disease are also found in the eye's lens and its surrounding fluid.
Last year, they revealed a pair of noninvasive tests
that scan the eye for these telltale molecules to potentially
detect the disease in its earliest stages.
Both tests very briefly shine a low-power near-infrared laser into the eye.
The light is safe, not visible to the patient, and
does not cause any discomfort.
The tests are slated to enter phase III multicenter human clinical trials over
the next year. In the end, the tests might cost less than $300 per patient.
Goldstein hopes they can become a routine part of an
annual physical exam starting in middle
age. He is cofounder of Neuroptix, which is developing these tests for clinical
use, although Goldstein is not receiving any sponsorship from the company.
Goldstein will present his team's latest findings on
Oct. 9 at the annual meeting of the
Optical Society of America in Rochester, N.Y."
[Posted 11/16/06]: STUDY: BRITISH CATTLE GIVE TB
TO BADGERS: (10/03/06): " The controversial practice of killing
wild badgers to prevent tuberculosis in cattle is unlikely
to succeed, a U.S. study claims. The research was led by
Woodroffe, an ecologist at the University of California-Davis, and a member of
Britain's Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB. In Britain, farming interests
and badger protectionists have battled for 30 years concerning the merits of
culling badgers to fight cattle tuberculosis, a disease which can occasionally
be transmitted to people.
Woodroffe examined the outcomes when badgers were culled as part of a 7-year
British experiment. Conventional wisdom suggested that should have reduced transmission
among badgers, as well as from badgers to cattle. Instead, after four years of
culling, Woodroffe found infection rates in badgers had doubled. The report also
provides the first evidence of widespread TB transmission from cattle to badgers.
The study appears in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences."
11/16/04]: 100 YEARS LATER, FOOD MAKERS
RESIST OVERSIGHT: (10/03/06): " It took a book called ``The Jungle,''
a grim assessment of work inside slaughterhouses, plus
a campaign by labor unions, medical professionals and consumer
pressure the U.S. Congress to pass the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection
Act on the same day in 1906. The food industry was opposed to legislative and
regulatory oversight of its business then, as it still is in many instances today.
That is despite periodic instances of bad publicity, such as that accompanying
the recent discovery of fresh spinach contaminated with E. coli bacteria.
The increased complexity of growing and distribution systems, the influx of foods
from all over the world, and threats to the meat supply such as "mad cow''
disease haven't shaken the resistance of most producers and sellers to major
modification of the U.S.'s food-safety system. In particular, the industry and
Congress have no stomach for giving federal regulators the power to order recalls,
fine transgressors, or unify the sprawling regulatory authority. That authority
is now shared by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees meat, poultry
and eggs, and the Food and Drug Administration, which is responsible for everything
else, or about 80 percent of the food supply... More recently, Senator Richard
Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, has introduced several bills to establish a
single Food Safety Administration and authorize mandatory federal recalls.
Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat, has been carrying the banner in the House. "They
can't even get a hearing. These public-interest, good-government issues -- there
is no hearing,'' said Caroline Smith DeWaal, director of food safety for the
Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington-based consumer-advocacy
[Very edited from:
[Posted 11/16/06]: MEXICO EASES MAD-COW BAN TO ALLOW U.S. DAIRY HEIFERS: (10/04/06): "
Mexico is resuming imports of U.S. dairy heifers, lifting a ban imposed in December
2003 when the U.S. found its first case of mad-cow disease, Agriculture Secretary
Mike Johanns said... Under the agreement, exported animals must be under 24 months
of age, the Agriculture Department said in a statement. The heifers will be individually
identified as they leave the U.S. as part of Mexico's mad-cow surveillance program... "My
goal is to restore the once-vibrant live cattle commerce between the U.S. and
Mexico and to do so in accordance with science-based international guidelines,''
Johanns said in the statement. He called the agreement on dairy heifers a "first
step'' in that process.
[Posted 11/16/06]: MAD DEER DISEASE MAY
SPREAD WITH SALIVA/BLOOD: (10/05/06): " Deer
probably spread a brain-destroying illness called chronic wasting
through their saliva, concludes a study that finally pins down a long-suspected
culprit. Chronic wasting disease is in the same family of fatal brain illnesses
as mad cow disease and its human equivalent. There is no evidence that people
have ever caught chronic wasting disease from infected deer or elk. But CWD is
unusual because, unlike its very hard-to-spread relatives, it seems to spread
fairly easily from animal to animal. Scientists were not sure how, primarily
because studying large wild animals is a logistical nightmare. The sheer stress
of researchers handling a deer caught in the wild could kill it.
Is it spread through shared salt licks? Or by drooling onto grass or into streams?
Studying environmental contamination by infectious proteins, called prions, that
cause CWD is among Hoover's next steps. "It's very likely they could be
shedding a lot of saliva" shortly before death, noted Richard Race, a veterinarian
who studies CWD at the National Institutes of Health's Rocky Mountain Laboratories. "Saliva's
a good bet."
[Very edited from:
[See also: "Scientists Find Blood, Saliva Can Be Common Channels For Infection
[Posted 11/16/06]: IOWA COMPANY INSISTS
MEAT RECALLED FOR POSSIBLE E. COLI IS
SAFE: (10/07/06): " The owner of an Iowa meat company says the federal government
has needlessly requested that he recall 5,200 pounds of meat that he claims is
safe and has
likely already been consumed by thousands of people across seven states. Jim
Goeser, owner of Jim's Market and Locker Inc., said tests have negated the government's
claim that his meat may have the same E. coli strain responsible for three deaths
in the recent outbreak of contaminated spinach. Goeser said he voluntarily issued
the recall Friday after federal inspectors questioned the testing methods used
by a slaughterhouse in Omaha, Neb. No illnesses have been reported and none likely
will, he said.
We are absolutely confident as we can be that the meat is as clean as it can
be," Goeser told The Associated Press on Saturday. E. coli lives in the
intestines of cattle and other animals and typically is linked to contamination
by fecal material. It's believed responsible for about 60 deaths and 73,000 infections
a year in the United States."
[Posted 11/16/06]: TAIWAN HALTS CANADIAN
BEEF FROM U.S.: (10/09/06): "
Taiwan is no longer accepting imports of Canadian beef products from the United
States, according to a news release from R-CALF USA. The Billings, Mont., advocacy
group said the U.S. Department of AgricultureÕs Food Safety and Inspection
Service on Tuesday issued updated export requirements for Taiwan regarding fresh
and frozen boneless beef derived from Canadian cattle under 30 months of age.
Effective Monday, Oct. 9, beef products derived from cattle imported from Canada
for immediate slaughter are not eligible for export to Taiwan, according to the
news release from the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers
R-CALF USA is among groups that have pushed USDA to keep Canadian beef and cattle
out of the U.S. because of the number of mad cow disease cases in Canada. Mad
cow is known scientifically as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE. Earlier
this year, South Korea asked that no Canadian beef be commingled with its imports
of U.S. beef, according to Bull Bullard, chief executive of R-CALF USA. USDA
has not reported any sales of beef to South Korea this year, he said. R-CALF
also said that because a recent discovery in Canada of a 4-year-old BSE-positive
cow, the USDA should stop imports of Canadian cattle less than 30 months of age.
The animal was born five years after Canada imposed its ruminant feed ban, which
is aimed at stopping the spread of BSE."
[Posted 11/16/06]: DENMARK REPORTS FIRST
CASE OF LETHAL SCRAPIE ANIMAL DISEASE: (10/12/06): " Denmark reported
its first case of scrapie, a lethal disease
and goats which is related to mad cow disease. A crippled animal in Kjellerup
in Viborg County was confirmed to have died of an atypical form of scrapie last
month, Preben Willeberg, Denmark's chief veterinary officer, said in a report
to the World Organization for Animal Health. The report didn't say whether a
sheep or goat was infected. The animal was more than 10 years old and the source
of its infection is unknown, according to the report, which was received by the
Paris-based organization this week. Another 17 animals were susceptible to infection
and the affected property has been quarantined, it said. Scrapie is a degenerative
disease that affects the central nervous system. Scientists believe that the
feeding of rendered scrapie-infected livestock in the form of meatmeal to cattle
in the U.K. in the late 1970s and 1980s caused the emergence of bovine spongiform
encephalopathy, or BSE. The disease, also known as mad cow disease, has been
linked with the fatal brain-wasting disease, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob, in humans."
[Posted 11/16/06]: US SENATOR SEEKS OKING
BLANKET BSE TESTS FOR EXPORTS TO JAPAN:(10/12/06): "
U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., has sent a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary
Mike Johanns urging him to allow beef producers to conduct blanket testing for
mad-cow disease for their exports to Japan and other countries, according to
a copy of the letter made available Thursday, Kyodo News reported. "This
is vital to regaining U.S. market share in Japan, South Korea and other markets
critical to U.S. beef suppliers," Bunning said in the letter dated last
Friday. The U.S. Department of Agriculture restricts testing to its own program,
banning voluntary testing despite repeated requests for permission from some
American meat processors so they can test all cattle for beef exports, especially
to Japan to satisfy consumers there. Japan conducts blanket testing on all slaughtered
cattle. But the U.S. tests only a small proportion of the total cattle herd because
the USDA program is designed to statistically check the prevalence of the disease."
[Posted 11/16/06]: RESEARCHERS DETECT CWD
IN HEART MUSCLE OF ELK AND WHITE-TAILED
DEER: (10/13/06): "
Chronic wasting disease for the first time has been found in the heart muscle
of white-tailed deer and elk, according to researchers in the University of Wyoming's
College of Agriculture. The finding is important to wildlife managers, hunters
and scientists because the cardiac muscle -- which comprises meat -- of big-game
animals susceptible to CWD is consumed by humans. Hunters, however, should not
be alarmed, said Jean Jewell, a research scientist in the UW Department of Veterinary
Sciences. "There is a tendency for people to become alarmed when they hear
something that makes them think their health might be at risk, but at this stage
there is no evidence to suggest humans are susceptible to CWD," Jewell said.
That does not mean hunters shouldn't take precautions, according to the Wyoming
Game and Fish Department (G&F). They are advised not to kill or eat animals
that appear sick, and it is recommended they wear long, disposable rubber or
latex gloves when field dressing animals. This will help protect them from not
only CWD but other diseases. Meat should be removed from bones when butchering,
according to G&F.
CWD is a chronic, fatal disease of mule and white-tailed deer, Rocky Mountain
elk and moose. It belongs to the group of diseases called transmissible spongiform
encephalopathies (TSEs), which are thought to be caused by prions."
[Very very edited from:
[Posted 11/16/06]: JAPANESE RULES PROMPT
CATTLE ID TAG USE: (10/15/06): "
Japanese consumers aren't just asking, "Where's the beef?" They want
to know: "Where's the beef from?" That question is proving to be a
good opportunity for cattle businesses to test a new national system for tracking
animals that federal officials hope to have operative on a voluntary basis by
2009. The Japanese government is making sure that any U.S. beef it imports can
be traced to its origins and comes from cows not more than 20 months old. The
strict protocol stems from the December 2003 find of a Washington state cow that
tested positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as mad cow disease.
As a result, 52 countries, including Japan, banned U.S. beef. That cow eventually
was traced to Canada.
In the United States, the tags are part of the first phase of a National Animal
Identification System the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Florida Department
of Agriculture and the livestock industry are developing. The program, which
will allow tracking of animals through the system from farm to feedlot and slaughterhouse,
is slated to be implemented on a widespread voluntary basis by 2009.
Groups such as the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Center for Science in the
Public Interest have called for a mandatory system to be implemented as soon
as possible. It would give consumers more confidence that illnesses such as mad
cow disease are not in the food supply. "The animal ID system also would
be enormously helpful in pinning down causes of food-borne illnesses caused by
bacteria, which routinely kill thousands of people annually," the center's
food safety director, Caroline Smith DeWaal, said.
Livestock industry fears about pinpointing blame for a disease outbreak, as well
as concerns about costs, have slowed the program's implementation."
[Posted 11/16/06]: QUEBEC FARMER SEEKING
PERMISSION FOR CLASS ACTION OVER MAD
COW CRISIS: (10/16/06): " Ottawa and a multinational feed company knew how
to prevent the spread of mad cow disease a decade before BSE showed up in Canadian
cattle but they
says a Quebec farmer who is trying to initiate a class action lawsuit against
both. Their negligence and inaction led to the crisis that saw international
borders closed to Canadian beef, costing Quebec farmers between $6 billion and
$7 billion and Canadian farmers overall up to $20 billion, alleges the lawsuit
filed by Donald Berneche. Berneche was in Quebec Superior Court on Monday asking
a judge to approve the class action suit against the federal government and Ridley
Inc. (TSX:RLC) on behalf of all Quebec farmers.
The respondents are responsible for the present mad cow crisis due to their inaction
and negligence," says the suit. "Since the end of the 80s, the beginning
of the 1990s, worldwide its been known how BSE is spread, which is basically
through ruminant meat and bone meal," Berneche's lawyer, Gilles Gareau,
told reporters outside the courtroom. "Stop feeding (it) to cows. It's as
simple as that."
Great Britain banned ruminant meat and bone meal, or animal parts, in its cattle
feed in 1988. "Here in Canada we waited until 1997 to do that," Gareau
11/16/06]: MAD COW DISEASE FOUND IN RUSSIA NEAR THE EU BORDER: (10/18/06): "
A case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or mad cow disease has been
discovered in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad between Poland and Lithuania,
the Federal Control Service for Consumer Rights said. "A case of mad cow
disease was detected in the town of Razdolnoye in the Nesterovski region," near
the Lithuanian border, it said in a press release. "The two people who had
contact with the animal have received vaccinations," it added, saying that
authorities are "taking measures designed to eliminate the source of the
disease." In July 2005, Moscow announced it had found around 10 cases of
mad cow disease in four farms in Mordovia, in the eastern European area of Russia."
11/16/06]: EU WILL COMMENT ON HUMAN
RISK FROM PRION DISEASE: (10/18/06): "Europe's top
food safety agency will give its views next month on whether
a fatal brain-wasting disease, similar to mad cow disease, might threaten human
if transmitted form sheep and goats, its executive director said on Wednesday.
Earlier this year, two sheep in France and one in Cyprus, were suspected of being
infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) infection, also known as
mad cow disease. A final series of tests is continuing and should be completed
The sheep were initially tested for scrapie, which is similar to BSE, and known
to exist in sheep for more than 100 years. That followed on from a similar ordeal
that France faced in 2005, when mad cow disease was confirmed in a goat that
had been killed three years earlier --- the first case of BSE in a goat. Scrapie
belongs to a family of diseases known as TSEs (transmissible spongiform encephalopathy)
and characterised by a degeneration of brain tissue giving a sponge-like appearance.
While no case of BSE has ever been confirmed as naturally occurring in sheep,
there are fears that some sheep diagnosed as having scrapie -- not known to be
harmful to humans -- might be carrying the other brain-wasting disease."
11/16/06]: FATE OF 1,000 TONS OF U.S. BEEF STUCK IN CUSTOMS
LIMBO: (10/21/06): "Fate of 1,000 tons of U.S. beef stuck in customs limbo
to be decided soon... Japan will soon decide whether to allow into its market
U.S. beef that arrived
before Tokyo reinstated an import ban on U.S. beef in January, Agriculture, Forestry
and Fisheries Minister Toshikatsu Matsuoka said Friday. The ban was lifted in
July, but the beef has yet to clear customs at ports and other areas in Japan.
We have been planning to make a judgment after watching (U.S. beef imports) for
about three months (following the resumption of imports)," Matsuoka told
reporters after a Cabinet meeting. "We intend to carefully consider this
in order to make a final decision." The beef in question amounts to about
1,000 tons. It has been kept on ice since Japan reinstated its import ban on
U.S. beef in January immediately after a veal shipment from the United States
that arrived at Narita airport was found to contain spinal cord, a risk material
banned under a bilateral agreement on beef trade."
11/16/06]: CJD LINK TO GRAN'S MYSTERY DEATH: (10/22/06): " A Melbourne
grandmother who died this week from suspected Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease was a
blood donor for 25 years. Valerie Powell, 68, died on Tuesday.
Ron, 70, said his wife was a regular blood donor until a year ago. But he said
doctors had told him the type of CJD his wife had could not be transmitted by
blood or blood products. The Australian Red Cross said there had never been a
reported case of classical CJD being passed from a blood donor anywhere in the
world. CJD expert Prof Colin Masters, head of the Department of Pathology at
Melbourne University, said Victorians who may have received blood from Mrs Powell
should not be alarmed because there was no evidence classical CJD was passed
through the blood. But he said in the past year there had been three cases, all
in Britain, of variant CJD -- more widely known as mad cow's disease -- passed
from blood donors."
11/16/06]: TO SLEEP, PERCHANCE TO SURVIVE: (10/23/06): " In his new
book The Family That Couldn't Sleep: A Medical Mystery, science writer D.T. Max
explores the strange world of prions and their connections to
fatal insomnia and hamburgers. Max talked about his findings with Wired News.
WN: What makes prions go bad in the first place?
Max: There are three ways. One is through an infection: If you ingest a misformed
prion, it will probably make other prions in the body misform. That's Variant
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease -- mad cow disease in humans. The second way is through
genetic mutation, such as in fatal familial insomnia. There's a mistake in your
DNA, and your genes are making misformed proteins all the time. Those proteins
are commingling with other healthy prions in your body and causing them to misform.
The third way is sporadically (or randomly), although there are some respectable
scientists who don't believe in this.
WN: Some people thought the British mad-cow outbreak would potentially kill hundreds
of thousands of people. But only about 150 people have gotten sick. What happened?
Max: Fortunately, the bovine protein was just different enough from the human
protein that it isn't a very efficient infector. If we'd been closer to them,
nobody would be alive in England except vegetarians. It's an extraordinary piece
of luck from a human experience point of view. Certainly the British government
didn't know (the truth) and to some extent it didn't want to know.
WN: What do you make of food safety in the United States when it comes to prion
Max: The USDA does as poor a job as you could imagine. I've never seen an organization
that seems more determined to not find what it's in charge of exploring..."
WN: Are you a vegetarian?
Max: I don't eat cheap hamburger. When I learned it was comprised of hundreds
of thousands of body parts and when I learned how it was blown off the bones
of the cow and steer, I just decided I didn't quite have the stomach for it anymore."
[Very edited from:
11/16/06]: OHIO EXPANDS TESTS OF DEER FOR DISEASE: (10/24/06): "Ohio
is changing its method of testing white-tailed deer for a deadly neurological
disease. The state
will test 1,500 Ohio deer this fall for chronic wasting disease
and for the first time will include deer killed on roads, said Dave Risley of
the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Wildlife. That's a boost
from 2005 when Ohio tested about 700 deer from both hunters' check-in stations
and deer-processing facilities. That testing effort will cover the entire state
although it will be more intense in eastern Ohio where deer concentrations are
higher and the chronic wasting disease threat are greater, Risley said.
" It's a serious problem that's not going away and it's something that we
to stay on top of... and keep an eye on it,'' he said."
11/16/06]: SCIENTISTS WARN OF 'MAD HONEY DISEASE': (09/10/06): "Mad
honey disease is among the rarest afflictions in the world, but it appears to
be on the increase. Only 58 cases have been reported worldwide, but
people were treated in 2005 alone. The trend towards eating more natural products
may be driving a rise in cases of the disease, whose symptoms can include convulsions,
low blood pressure, fainting and temporary heart problems, according to a new
report. "Mad honey disease has the potential to cause death if untreated," say
the researchers. "Because of the increasing preference for natural products,
intoxication induced by consumption of honey will increase in the future."
Just a spoonful of the wrong honey can cause problems, according to researchers,
who report their findings this week in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine.
Mad honey poisoning is most prevalent in honey from the Black Sea region of Turkey.
Compounds called grayanotoxins, found in the nectar of rhododendrons, mountain
laurels and azaleas, are thought to be responsible for the disease. Though harmless
to bees, they are psychoactive and poisonous to humans. Affected honey is said
to have a very bitter taste.
[Very edited from:
Cow Tests Go To Industry Before Public: (06/15/04): "The
U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to notify industry
officials of positive mad cow test results at least one
hour before informing the public, according to a meat
industry newsletter obtained by United Press International.
The revelation comes as government officials are being
investigated for possibly leaking information about the
first U.S. case of mad cow in December to commodity traders
prior to telling the public.
A statement on NMA's [National Meat Association] Web
site says, "Generic information concerning the inconclusive
result will be publicly released after the market closes
for the day, after the plant and other key personnel or associations
have been notified, with at least an hour between the two
notifications." The statement goes on to say USDA officials
told industry representatives in a private meeting, "No
establishment information will be publicly released, including
the city or town of the slaughtering facility."
In January, various consumer groups, including GAP, Public
Citizen and the Consumer Federation of America, requested
the USDA hold a public hearing on the mad cow issue. The
groups reiterated their appeal just last month. So far,
their requests have gone unanswered."
[Very edited from:
: Japan's BSE Demands Dividing U.S. Cattle Industry: (06/21/04): "Japan's
continued insistence that the U.S. test all cattle for
bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) at slaughter is
creating a divide in the cattle industry. Scientists agree
that BSE, commonly called mad cow disease, doesn't develop
in cattle until about 30 months of age. Therefore, testing
all slaughter cattle for BSE is scientifically unjustified
and cost prohibitive, Greg Doud chief economist for the
National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) told Farm
Bureau county vice presidents at last week's Midyear Conference
in West Des Moines.
"There is a fundamental misunderstanding between the
U.S. and Japan about beef safety because of differences
in the production system," Doud said. He said most
cattle slaughtered in Japan are 30 months old or older.
U.S. slaughter cattle are generally 15 to 18 months old,
well before BSE infects the animal."
[Very edited from:
in 21-month Holstein in Japan" - mentioned
in MC Newsletter #32:
: Florida Woman With Human Form Of Mad Cow Disease
Dies: (06/21/04): "A Florida woman suffering
from the only known case in the United States of the human
form of mad
cow disease has died, her family said on Monday. Charlene
Singh died on Sunday at her home in Fort Lauderdale after
being ill for several years with variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob
disease, which is fatal and incurable. Her family believe
she contracted it by eating contaminated meat in Britain
more than a decade ago. Singh, 25, was born and raised
in Britain, where an outbreak of the disease hit tens of
thousands of cattle in the 1980s and 1990s. Most of the
more than 150 cases of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob worldwide
have been reported in Britain."
Given Grade Of "D" At Anniversary Of Mad Cow
Finding: (06/22/04): " The Bush administration received
a letter grade of "D" today for its efforts to
prevent mad cow disease during the six months since a mad
cow was found in the United States. Seven public interest
organizations with more than 5 million members released a
report card rating the administration's performance. The
groups assessed 10 key actions needed to prevent the disease
including testing, feed restrictions, animal identification
and tracking, prevention of the human version of the disease
and whether the administration has been following its own
Groups rating the Bush administration include the Center
for Food Safety, Consumers Union (the publisher of Consumer
Reports), the Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Foundation, Friends
of the Earth, the Government Accountability Project, Institute
for Agriculture and Trade Policy - Action, and Public Citizen."
: USDA Warns Canada, Mexico Of Rapid Mad Cow Test: (06/24/04): "Canada
and Mexico should not shut their borders to U.S. beef if
a new U.S. testing system finds an animal may have mad cow
disease, the U.S. Agriculture Department said on Thursday.
The USDA this month began using rapid test kits that carry
a greater risk of false positives for bovine spongiform encephalopathy.
Any positive or inconclusive tests would be confirmed by
the USDA's main animal health laboratory in Iowa. John Clifford,
USDA's chief veterinarian, said the department has prepared
Canadian and Mexican government officials for the possibility
of inconclusive tests. "They understand that they are
not going to shut us off based on an inconclusive (test result)," Clifford
told reporters. "It would be inappropriate in our minds
for that to occur."
: USDA Finds 2nd Suspect Animal For Mad Cow Disease: (06/29/04): "A
second animal in less than a week preliminarily tested positive
for mad cow disease and it will be retested, the U.S. Agriculture
Department said late on Tuesday. The USDA refused to disclose
any information about the suspect animal's slaughter location,
age or sex, but said the cattle carcass did not enter the
human food supply. USDA officials say the government's new,
rapid tests carry a greater risk of false positives. The
first U.S. case of mad cow disease was diagnosed last December
in a Washington state dairy cow. In response, Japan and dozens
of other countries halted purchases of American beef, valued
at about $3.8 billion annually."
[Very edited from:
: U.S. Says Finds Negative Result To Mad Cow Test: (06/30/04): "A
suspect animal tested negative for mad cow disease in a second
round of testing, the U.S. Agriculture Department said on
Wednesday. The additional tests were ordered after an inconclusive
or possible positive test was found last Friday in an animal
sent to slaughter. "That particular result is negative
for BSE on confirmatory testing," John Clifford, the
department's chief veterinarian, told reporters. BSE stands
for the formal name of mad cow disease, bovine spongiform
encephalopathy. The department has cautioned that its new
rapid tests to detect the brain-wasting disease are likely
to produce false positives."
: Up To 100 More Mad Cow Cases Expected: (06/30/04): "...a
food industry consultant told UPI he estimates there could
be more than 100 cases of the deadly disorder in the country's
herds. About half of the cases will go undetected and passed
on for human consumption, Robert LaBudde, president of Least
Cost Formulation Ltd., a food industry consultancy in Virginia
Beach, Va., told UPI. LaBudde, who has served on the faculties
of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, thinks there will be many more infected
Only about half the cases will be detected, however, because
many animals will not show any symptoms, LaBudde said. This
is based on the experience in Europe, where half the animals
that test positive have no outward symptoms of infection,
he added. LaBudde said the department should test all cows
over age 5 regardless of their health status, because these
are the most likely to have passed through the lengthy incubation
period of the disease and test positive. He called the USDA's
failure to do that bordering on "negligent."
: Japan Says U.S. Played Down Seriousness of BSE: (07/03/04): "The
chairman of the government's Food Safety Commission on Friday
played down the seriousness of mad cow disease in the United
States. "Deep down, I think the risk of BSE in the U.S.
was hardly taken seriously," Masaaki Terada said during
a workshop on food safety. Terada also said that as the U.S.
government does not have enough data on the disease, it is
still difficult to scientifically assess the danger of the
brain-wasting disease in the country, leading to Japan's ban
on American beef imports. The commission is therefore collecting
information to determine necessary safety measures against
U.S. beef, Terada said."
: French Mad Cow Epidemic Went Undetected: (07/04/04): "French
researches have concluded that more than 300,000 cows in France
contracted bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease,
between 1980 and June 2000, the Telegraph reported on its Web
site. About 50,000 of the infected animals entered the food
chain, the newspaper said, citing a report by researchers at
France's Institute of Health and Medical Research. The study, "The
Unrecognized French BSE Epidemic,'' is published in Veterinary
Research, the newspaper said.
The number of officially recorded cases of mad cow disease
in France over the past 13 years is 923, the newspaper said.
The editors of Veterinary Research had three independent scientists
verify the study's findings, the newspaper said."
: Canadian PM Says BSE Cow Likely Contaminated By US Feed:
a conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, this week, Canadian Prime
Minister Paul Martin criticized US actions after BSE was discovered
in a Canadian cow in May 2003. "Some chose to ignore the
fact that in all probability, the feed that gave it the disease
came from the United States and consequently, the border was
closed," he said.
Martin blamed special interests for blocking the US government
from a joint solution. "Beef prices are at an all-time
high because Canadian beef is no longer coming in and they
are enjoying very high profits, and obviously, in a year in
which there is a US election, there is huge pressure being
brought to essentially keep that border closed," he said.
In the long run, Martin said it's the US beef industry that
will suffer unless the border is fully opened, because Canada
will have no choice but to build massive processing facilities
: FDA Delays Mad Cow Feed Rules: (07/09/04): "The
Food and Drug Administration on Friday banned brains and other
parts that could carry mad cow disease from use in cosmetics
and dietary supplements, but delayed some similar safeguards
in animal feed for up to two years. The FDA said it will adopt
some regulations, initially announced in January, that prohibit
the use of brains, skull and spinal cords from older cattle
in human food and cosmetics. The USDA, which regulates the
meat industry, adopted similar measures in January.
Consumer groups criticized the agency for taking six months
to issue only some of the new safeguards. "Action that
was urgent in January has become action that can be delayed
until the last mad cow comes home," said Carol Tucker
Foreman, food policy director for the Consumer Federation of
America. The American Meat Institute, a trade group representing
U.S. meatpackers, said it was against a mandatory elimination
of cattle brains and spinal material from all animal feed."
[Very edited from:
: USDA Advised Against Mad Cow Test In 2002: (07/13/04): "The
U.S. Department of Agriculture in late 2002 warned against
using the same mad cow disease test the agency now is using
in its expanded surveillance program for the deadly disorder,
United Press International has learned. The USDA said governments
should not authorize the test, which is manufactured by Bio-Rad
Laboratories in Hercules, Calif., because it can give false
positives -- results that are ruled negative on follow-up testing
-- and "will cause loss of consumer confidence in beef
and beef products," the agency wrote in a letter to the
World Organization for Animal Health in Paris.
The USDA recommended countries employ a different test manufactured
by the Swiss firm Prionics -- a test the agency has licensed
but has not yet put into use. The USDA's reason for the delay
is the Prionics test, which has not yielded a false positive
in more than 20 million tests in Europe, still must pass through
the agency's validation procedures. Experts on testing and
mad cow disease have suggested one reason the USDA might have
opted for Bio-Rad is the same reason it advised against it
in 2002: its potential to yield false positives. By releasing
preliminary positives -- or inconclusives, as the USDA has
deemed them -- that are later ruled negative, the agency could
desensitize markets, consumers and foreign trading partners
to real positive cases when and if they occur, the sources
[Very edited from:
Own Audit Slams Its Mad Cow Plan: (07/13/04): "The
U.S. Department of Agriculture's mad cow disease surveillance
plan has numerous problems that may have reduced the
chances of detecting the deadly disease among U.S. herds,
according to a draft report from the agency's inspector
general. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., who made the IG
report available on his Web site [address below], sent
a letter Tuesday to Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman
noting the House Government Reform Committee -- on which
Waxman serves -- and a separate IG investigation not
yet made available to the public, found additional evidence
contradicting claims of USDA officials regarding potential
U.S. cases of mad cow disease.
"The Inspector General's finding and the additional
evidence obtained by the committee have major implications," Waxman,
the ranking Democrat, wrote in the letter. "They
call into question the credibility of the department's
public statements and the adequacy of the department's
past and ongoing response to mad cow disease." The
IG audit of the mad cow surveillance plan details a slew
of problems, including failure to test the riskiest animals,
confusion among inspectors in the field due to inadequate
training, and "an almost complete absence of available
documentation" supporting the surveillance plan from
1990 through 2003.
[Very very edited from:
letter and Draft Audit:
Says Mandatory Mad Cow Tests Wouldn't Work: (07/15/04): "Mandatory
testing of cattle for mad cow disease would not improve
on the current voluntary system because the government
still could never be sure producers were complying, an
Agriculture Department official said Wednesday. Even
under mandatory testing, if a producer did not want an
animal tested, ''it would be very difficult for us to
find out,'' said Dr. Ron DeHaven, administrator of the
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. ''When we
are talking about potentially every cattle producer in
the country getting involved in this program, enforcement
is a real issue,'' DeHaven said.
He said that relying on cooperation from farmers, slaughterhouse
operators and renderers is working well in coming up with
brain tissue samples to be checked for the fatal brain-wasting
disease. ''We clearly are getting the support we need to
make this successful, so there is no need to proceed to a
mandatory program,'' DeHaven said. Mandatory testing also
would mean time-consuming rule-making, DeHaven said."
Italy Reports Latest Case Of Mad Cow Disease: (07/19/04): "A
7-year-old cow from a breeding farm in northwestern Italy
has tested positive for mad cow disease, bringing to
122 the number of cases detected in the nation since
began in 2001, the Health Ministry said Monday. Two years
ago, Italy reported its first case of the human form
of the brain-wasting illness, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob
which experts believe is transmitted by eating meat from
Tests Suggest Thousands Harbour vCJD: (05/04/04): "Almost
4000 Britons aged between 10 and 30 may be harbouring the
prion proteins that cause the human form of mad cow disease.
The new estimate comes from direct analyses of human biopsies,
rather than epidemiological projections based on variant
Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) deaths. The investigators
discovered three infected tonsil or appendix samples from
a total of 12,674 stored between 1995 and 1999. However,
because so few positive samples were found, the projected
total of 3808 can only be speculative. Furthermore, harbouring
the prions may not necessarily lead to vCJD. The Department
of Health says that the uncertainties in Hilton's studies
justify its measures to protect patients. These include
filtering potentially infective white blood cells from
blood donations, and upgrading sterilisation equipment
to stop prions spreading on surgical instruments."
Of Lymphoreticular Prion Protein Accumulation In Uk Tissue
Foresee 60 More BSE Cases In Japan: (05/15/04): "About
60 more cases of mad cow disease are expected to occur
in Japan, with discovery likely to peak in 2005 and 2006,
the Cabinet Office said in a survey report Friday. The
report was complied by an expert panel in the governmental
Food Safety Commission. Testing of all cattle is expected
to uncover more cases as the brain-wasting disease has
an average incubation period of five years, the office
said. The report assumes the presence of 60 more BSE-infected
cows because one case of infection is estimated
to have led to four more infections in countries such as
: No Mad Cow Tests At Texas Firm In 2004: (05/14/04): "The
U.S. Department of Agriculture did not test any cows for
mad cow disease in the past seven months at the same Texas
facility where federal testing policies for the deadly
disorder were violated last month, United Press International
has learned. The USDA also failed to test a single cow
in 2002 at another Texas slaughterhouse that processes
high-risk, downer cows, according to agency testing records
obtained by UPI under the Freedom of Information Act. Downer
cows are unable to stand or walk, which can be an indication
of mad cow disease, as well as other disorders.
The low-level of testing irks consumer advocates because
Lone Star, the 18th largest slaughterhouse in the country,
processes high-risk, older dairy cattle, slaughtering approximately
172,000 per year. "We have, in my opinion, a government
policy (on mad cow disease) of 'Don't look, don't find,'" said
Howard Lyman, a former rancher turned vegetarian, who has
insisted mad cow is present in U.S. herds and has called
for increased testing for several years. The concern is
humans can contract a fatal, incurable brain-wasting disorder
called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease from eating meat
infected with the mad cow pathogen.
"When you're slaughtering 35 million head of cattle
and testing as few cows as the USDA does, it's like sending
a blind man to find a needle in a haystack," Lyman
told UPI. The agency tests less than 1 percent of cows
: USDA Alienates Japan By Being Evasive On Mad Cow Problem
In The USA: (05/15/04): "The U.S. Department
of Agriculture has failed to supply the number of cows
of a brain disorder it has tested for mad cow disease to
Japanese authorities, who requested the information more
than four months ago, an official told United Press International.
The failure to provide the information comes amid the recent
revelation USDA officials did not test an animal displaying
brain disorder symptoms consistent with mad cow disease
at a Texas plant in April.
" Although the Japanese government requested this
information in January, the official said the USDA has
not yet provided any substantial statistics. " We
received a one-page document" showing the number of
dead and downer cows -- those unable to stand -- that have
been tested, the official said. But there is no information
on the number of tested animals with CNS signs, he added.
The USDA has also failed to address other questions about
how the agency is ensuring mad cow disease does not infect
U.S. herds, the official said. This has created a sense
of frustration among Japanese authorities.
J.B. Penn, USDA's undersecretary for farm and foreign agricultural
services, who has been heavily involved in the negotiations
with Japan, declined repeated requests from UPI for comment.
[A Japanese official] noted, however, that Japanese officials
took issue with some of Penn's other statements to reporters
-- for example, he appeared to downplay some of their most
serious concerns, including the worry that cows under 30
months old can carry the disease and therefore should be
tested. Two of Japan's young cows --ages 21 and 23 months
-- have tested positive within the past year for mad cow,
otherwise known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy."
[Very edited from:
Says Canadian Beef Imported Despite Ban Was Safe: (05/21/04): "The
US Department of Agriculture (USDA) acknowledged today that
it allowed the importation of about 7.3 million pounds of
Canadian beef that was officially banned under rules intended
to keep bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) out of the
United States. But the USDA said the meat, imported since
last summer, did not represent any risk to consumers because
it came from cattle under 30 months of age. BSE has very
rarely been found in animals younger than 30 months.
officials discussed the issue in response to news reports
published yesterday. A Washington Post report, quoting figures
from a cattlemen's organization, said 33 million pounds of "processed" beef
was imported since last summer despite the official ban.
Ron DeHaven, administrator of the USDA Animal and Plant Health
Inspection Service (APHIS), said all of the processed beef
that was imported was made from beef that would not have
been subject to the ban in its unprocessed form. While insisting
that the products posed no risk to consumers, USDA officials
admitted mistakes in handling the matter. "Clearly the
process and our failure to announce some of these actions
was flawed," DeHaven said."
[See also a Transcript of USDA Briefing:
Proteins Found In Sheep Muscle: (05/23/04): "Prions,
the misfolded proteins that are widely believed to cause
brain-wasting diseases, have been found in sheep muscle,
scientists announced yesterday - the first time they have
been discovered in animal flesh that many humans normally
eat. But the scientists emphasized that the finding did not
mean that lamb or mutton posed a danger to humans. "The
risk of transmission from sheep to humans is very, very low," said
Olivier Andréoletti, a prion specialist at the National
Veterinary School in Toulouse, France, and lead author of
the study, which was published yesterday in Nature Medicine.
Two years ago, in collaboration with Dr. Stanley Prusiner,
who won a 1997 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his work in the
field, Dr. Legname found prions in the muscles of mice and
showed that they could replicate there. Since then, Swiss
researchers have found prions in the muscles of humans with
sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a degenerative brain
disease that is thought to arise spontaneously in one in
a million humans.
Dr. Brown, who spent decades on prion research, said he was
not surprised that they had been found in sheep muscle. "In
the last few years, the sensitivity of immunoblot tests has
been ramped up so much that people are beginning to find
the protein all over the place," he said. He ventured
a prediction: "Within the next year, somebody will make
a big splash by finding it in the muscles of cattle," he
said, "and the beef industry will go crazy."
[Very edited from:
Promotion Case Goes To Supreme Court:
U.S. Supreme Court said on Monday it would decide if the
federal government can require cattle ranchers and farmers
to pay for an industry marketing program, famous for its "Beef,
It's What's for Dinner" advertisements. The beef promotion
program raises more than $80 million a year by requiring
American farmers to contribute $1 per animal from their cattle
sales. In addition to television and magazine ads, the program
offers recipes to consumers to encourage them to prepare
steaks, roasts and other cuts of beef. An appeals court last
year ruled that the program violated farmers' free-speech
rights and should be ended.
The U.S. Agriculture Department runs dozens of promotion
programs for commodities such as beef, pork, eggs, milk and
cotton. Producers of the commodities are required to contribute
to funds that pay for programs that encourage consumption.
The Bush administration, along with the largest U.S. cattle
ranchers group, said the program is essential to boost consumer
demand for steaks, roasts and other beef cuts. U.S. per capita
consumption of beef is forecast to rise to 66.9 pounds in
2004, up from 64.8 pounds last year, according to the USDA."
Firm Develops Test For Human 'Mad Cow' Disease: (05/26/04): "British
diagnostics company Microsens has developed the first blood
test that can detect abnormal proteins that cause the human
version of "mad cow disease," the privately owned
company said on Wednesday. The firm's Seprion technology
can detect abnormal prions, a type of protein, in the blood
of patients with so-called variant Creuzfeldt-Jakob Disease
(CJD), it said."
Mad-Cow Testing To Begin For Washington Cattle: (05/31/04): "The
U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to test between 5,000
and 10,000 Washington
cattle for mad-cow
disease as part of a $70 million effort to find out if the
infection is present in the United States, and if so, at
what level. The one-time, intensive program, which kicks
off Tuesday, aims to test at least 220,000 animals nationwide
over the next 12 to 18 months.
"It's important to acknowledge that, in fact, it is
possible we will find an additional BSE-positive cow," Ron
DeHaven, the agency's chief veterinarian, said last week. "If
this weren't a concern, we obviously would not be undertaking
the huge surveillance effort that we are." Consumer
groups and the Japanese government, which suspended imports
of U.S. beef after the December mad-cow case, continue to
push for even more testing. "You only have absolute
safety if you test all animals that can be tested and remove
any that test positive from the human and animal food supply," said
Michael Hansen, of Consumers Union.
Even the expanded testing program will examine less than
1 percent of the 35 million cattle slaughtered in the United
States each year.
[Very edited from:
Wants Mad Cow Research Coordinated:
and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson was asked Wednesday
to create a task force to coordinate research now performed
by several agencies and universities into diseases such as
mad cow. Thirteen House members, all but one of them Democrats,
said their request was triggered by the first U.S. case in
December of mad cow disease, also known as bovine spongiform
encephalopathy, or BSE. "We are concerned that there
is limited coordination among the crucial components of a
national research program around the prevention, surveillance
and study of prion disease," the lawmakers wrote Thompson. "And
there appears to be no coordinated action plan to ensure
that these efforts build on one another."
Debate Over Chicken Dung; FDA Wrestles With Whether To Ban
It And Other Waste From Cattle Feed: (04/22/04): "A
mountain of chicken dung - among other things - is preventing
the Food and Drug Administration from banning blood, chicken
waste and restaurant leftovers from cattle feed, a top administration
official said yesterday. In the scramble to keep mad cow
disease from spreading after a Holstein from Yakima County
was diagnosed with the brain-wasting illness, the FDA recommended
in January what seemed like simple and sensible restrictions
on cattle feed.
In an interview yesterday, Sundlof [director of the FDA's
Center for Veterinary Medicine] provided no likely deadline
for the new bans, only assurances that progress was being
made. But Sundlof did offer some explanations for the delays.
He said, for example, that the proposed ban on adding chicken
litter (fecal matter, dead birds, feathers and spilled feed)
generated huge concern from chicken producers. Sundlof said
adding chicken litter to cattle feed is one of the primary
methods of waste disposal for the chicken growers, especially
in the Southeast. "From an environmental standpoint,
what are people going to do with the poultry litter?" he
asked. "One of the benefits of doing this was that it
was an environmentally sound way of recycling the material.""