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Corvallis, OR, United States
My personal obsession with prion diseases with smidges of music I like and rescue dog advocacy from a disabled Oregonian.


Song in my head: Touch me in the morning...then just walk away........Diana Ross


How is the USDA doing to ensure safe beef for consumers? Apparently, a lower than average job ......

Groups chide USDA on mad cow

Food and consumer groups handed mediocre grades to the Agriculture Department in a "report card" Tuesday on its handling of mad cow disease.

Groups such as Center for Food Safety, Consumers Union and the Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Foundation gave no "A's" and only one "B" in 10 categories for a new policy prohibiting non-ambulatory animals from use in food and feed. There was one "C" for initial steps to better identify and track cattle nationally.

Six "D's" were given in the areas of: testing cattle 20 months or older; ensuring feed restrictions; increasing surveillance for variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human form of mad cow disease; strengthening authority to recall tainted meat; implementing use of country of origin labels; and allowing for public input.

And the new rapid BSE cow tests have a high false positive rate which can seriously affect beef sales....

USDA warns Canada, Mexico of rapid mad cow tests

John Clifford, USDA's chief veterinarian, was cited as saying Thursday that 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 story explains that 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.
Clifford was quoted as saying, "They understand that they are not going to shut us off based on an inconclusive (test result). It would be inappropriate in our minds for that to occur."
Additional tests to confirm an inconclusive result were expected to take between four and eight days.
U.S. meat groups have urged the USDA to refrain from publishing inconclusive test results because of the affect the news would have on the markets.
The USDA said publishing inconclusive tests was the best way to ensure transparency on market-sensitive news.
USDA spokeswoman Alisa Harrison was quoted as saying, "Rumor is more dangerous to the market. We wanted to make sure that the public heard first from us."

Once again, Japan is ahead of us in the quality control department. This article describes the detail one business owner has taken to track parts of a cow back to its supplier.

Tsubame (Swallow) Corp., an operator of "Tsubame" restaurants in Tokyo and neighboring Kanagawa Prefecture, displays, according to this story, information on beef it serves at each of its 21 restaurants.
The information includes the identification number of each slaughtered cow, the names of meat producers, their addresses, the days the animals were screened for mad cow disease and the name of the agency that carried out the examination.
The story says that Tsubame has developed its own system to identify each cattle part so that it can disclose accurate information on the traceability of the beef cattle it keeps in stock.
There has been growing interest in the safety of beef among consumers since the first case of mad cow disease was confirmed in Japan in 2001. The government banned imports of beef and beef products from the United States after reports late last year said a Holstein cow had tested positive for the disease.
Then there was an outbreak of bird flu in Asia earlier this year.
Tsubame's practice came even before the beef traceability law became applicable to meat producers last December.
The law requires them to show 10-digit identification numbers on packages of beef sold at supermarkets and other stores.
Retailers and restaurants where beef dishes account for more than 50 percent of total sales are obliged to follow the law starting next December.
(Link via FSNet listserv)

Since the risk of false positives are greater with the new rapid BSE tests, stories like this may alarm us but are still inconclusive. False positives are then tested further to see if it truly is a case of Mad Cow Disease.

USDA retesting animal for mad cow

Further testing is being conducted on the carcass of an animal that showed inconclusive results for mad cow disease in initial tests, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Friday.

Additional tissue samples were being sent to the National Veterinary Services Lab in Iowa , according to Dr. John Clifford, a deputy administrator at the USDA.

A more conclusive result would be available sometime in the next four to seven days, he said.


~TalkLeft has a link to an interesting article in the Washington Post..

Blessing Marijuana For Mercy's Sake
Support for Permitting Medical Use Is Growing Among Major Religious Denominations

~Think you got it tough..? Not.

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