My photo
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: The mama pajama rolled out of bed....and she ran to the police station.............. Paul Simon


It has been a few weeks since I updated my mad cow article collection. Lets take a look how the food regulators try to keep BSE out of our burger supply......The articles are snipped from FSNet listserv, a food safety listserv available by subscription. I try and provide links to articles if they are given.

Canada pays farmers $225 per ill or dead cattle

System works: Rancher turns in sick cow: Alberta mad cow: Program pays farmers [sic] 5 for each animal tested

The owner of the latest Holstein dairy cow found with mad cow disease, according to this story, ordered her tested after realizing the sickly beast was a "downer" -- and received a handsome payment from the provincial government for his trouble.The story says that Alberta farmer Allan Degner was simply doing what hundreds of other ranchers in the province have done in recent months, his veterinarian said: sending brain samples of their ill or dead bovines in exchange for a cool $225.That is what farmers get for each high-risk animal they submit to government labs under a federal-provincial compensation plan launched in September aimed at getting more cows into the bovine spongiform encephalopathy screening system.The story notes that the $225 is more than farmers would likely get for selling ageing, unfit cows for slaughter under current market conditions.The incentive has helped stop the once widespread practice popularized by Alberta Premier Ralph Klein as "shoot, shovel, and shut up." (via FSnet listserv)

Canada tracing 141 animals born on mad cow farm

Officials were cited as saying Friday that Canada is tracing a total of 141 beef and dairy cattle that may have eaten contaminated feed a decade ago, in an investigation into its second home-grown case of mad cow disease.The cattle were born between 1995 and 1997 on the same farm in the province of Alberta as the diseased cow, confirmed to have brain-wasting bovine spongiform encephalopathy earlier this week.The story says that preliminary findings show at least one of the cows may have been exported to the United States, where it was slaughtered.Gary Little, a senior veterinarian at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, was quoted as saying, "These animals do present at least a theoretical risk and it is for that reason that we are actively tracing them." -LINK-

Mad cow food fears raised: Meat from infected farm may have been eaten

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency was cited as saying that cattle from the Alberta farm with the most recent case of mad cow disease could have ended up on people's plates.The agency is tracing 141 cattle born on the same farm, around the same time, as the infected cow.Dr. Gary Little, senior veterinarian with the inspection agency, was cited as saying there is evidence some of those cattle have entered the rendering stream and "at least a small number of them have been slaughtered and would have entered the human food system, potentially. … The safeguards we have in place and what we know about BSE here in Canada and the broader North America, confirms that those animals, having entered the human food system, would be a very low risk." (via FSNet listserv, Jan 10, 2005)

Consumer group calls for strong US mad cow protections following recent Canadian case

Media Release A new Canadian cow was confirmed infected with Mad Cow disease today following closely on another case confirmed last week. The cow in this new case was infected after the feed ban to protect cattle from Mad Cow was put in place. Given the clear evidence of failure of the feed ban in Canada, Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT) is calling on the USDA to prohibit the import of cattle and cattle products from Canada into the US."So far, Canada has detected Mad Cow at a rate of approximately 1 in 10,000 animals tested. This rate is way too high for a country to be considered a minimal risk," stated Richard Wood, FACT's Executive Director. "At the same time, given that over 6 million cattle have been imported from Canada since 1997, the Bush Administration needs to take further steps to protect the American public. The USDA must address flaws in its surveillance program as pointed out by its own Inspector General and start testing all cattle over 30 months of age at slaughter. The FDA also needs to take steps to strengthen our feed ban by prohibiting specified risk materials from all animal feed," Wood stated.The latest Mad Cow case differed from the other three indigenous North American cases in that it was born in 1988, after Canada and the US put into place their ruminant feed bans. The ruminant feed ban in both countries prohibits feeding most proteins from cattle back to cattle because this can spread the disease. (via FSNet listserv, Jan 12, 2005)

Risks remain despite cattle-feed safeguards

The beef supply is, according to this story, safer than it was when the first U.S. cow tested positive for mad cow disease more than a year ago, but key gaps leave American consumers unnecessarily exposed to a deadly neurological disorder, say several consumer groups. -LINK-

The mystery of a BSE-free America

Leo Pare states in this op-ed that isn't it amazing that every North American case of BSE can be traced back to Alberta?Pare says that it is truly intriguing that the U.S. a country with about 95 million cattle, is unable to find a single case of BSE, while Canadian producers are three-time scapegoats despite the fact the Canadian cattle herd hovers somewhere around 15 million.One thing the United States and Canada have in common is that we both boast our BSE surveillance methods to be among the best in the world, which is odd, because only one of us are actually finding incidences of the disease.Pare says that local MLA Lloyd Snelgrove put it best when he talked to him following the latest Alberta BSE discovery."The Americans don't want to find them, so they won't," he said.Or maybe Alberta Premier Ralph Klein put it best when he said "Shoot, shovel and shut up."It's all well and good to closely monitor our cattle herds, but what good does it do to spend millions on BSE surveillance when our neighbours won't play fair? (via FSNet listserv, Jan 16, 2005)

Plan to allow Canadian cattle into U.S. worries ranchers

The decision to reopen the Canadian border on Mar. 7 has, according to this story, ignited anger and concern among cattlemen across the West, who say reopening the northern border could endanger an industry that is prospering for the first time in many years. Cattle rancher Craig Winterburn who is in the midst of the calving season on his ranch in the hills near Helena, the state capital, was cited as saying he is incensed by the decision to allow imports, adding, "I truly sympathize with those producers up there in Canada. They're in a world of hurt. But it would stymie the chances of getting Japan to open up again." Ranchers were further cited as saying they were also worried that if the disease spread from Canadian imports, it could hamper the domestic market, where per capita consumption is at an all-time high. -LINK-

Illness may help mad cow agent spread, study finds

Researchers were cited as reporting in the current Science that the agent that transmits mad cow and related diseases may spread further in the body of an animal suffering from certain illnesses, raising the question of whether measures aimed at curbing the spread of mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, are adequate.The story says that their tests on mice showed that prions, the protein-like fragments that transmit BSE and related diseases, can show up in organs they are not supposed to if the mouse has an inflammatory condition. -LINK-

Canada Mad Cow Probe Traces Two More Animals to US

Inspectors have traced two more cows from an Alberta dairy herd to the United States in their investigation into the country's second home-grown case of mad cow disease, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said on Monday.
The CFIA confirmed an eight-year-old dairy cow had bovine spongiform encephalopathy on Jan. 2. The agency has since been trying to find and test other cows born on the same farm around the same time. The cows may have consumed contaminated feed believed to have caused the disease. Officials have said they want to kill and test related cattle, although they said the disease does not usually occur in clusters.
The CFIA identified 38 cows from the farm that may be of interest. It has now traced a total of six to the United States.

Mad cow protein's reach is wider than suspected

Mad cow disease has long been thought to occur in just the brains and nervous systems of infected animals. But scientists reported Friday that the proteins thought to cause the disease can travel to other organs as well.
.The research is based on experiments with mice, but if it is borne out in other species, it may suggest that no part of an infected animal is safe to eat. In humans, the disease manifests as a fatal brain infection.
.In the mouse experiments, reported in the journal Science, researchers in Switzerland worked with the proteins thought to be the infectious agent in mad cow disease. When these prions were given to mice that had been infected with chronic diseases of the liver, kidney and pancreas, they made their way to the infected organs.
.Dr. Adriano Aguzzi, a neuropathologist at the University Hospital in Zurich, who led the experiments, said this meant that cows and sheep infected with prions could harbor mad cow disease in any inflamed organ.
.Many countries, including the United States, require the removal of skull, brain, eyes, spinal cord and other nervous tissues from slaughtered animals, because prions are known to accumulate in those tissues. Even in countries with mad cow disease, which include Japan, Canada, Oman, Israel and 20 European countries, meat is considered safe if those tissues are removed, Aguzzi said. But the disease could spread more readily if infections are not obvious or inspections are done sloppily, he said.
.Aguzzi added that his research team did not yet know the extent of chronic infections in animal herds. It is now collecting information on European farm animals, including sheep, which can carry their own prion disease, scrapie.
.Chronically inflamed muscle can also harbor prions, Aguzzi said. While this has yet to be demonstrated in a cow, it has been seen in humans with sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which is related to mad cow but arises spontaneously rather than from eating infected beef or some other route.

American Meat Institute Foundation says Lancet study supports efficacy of existing BSE firewalls to protect human health

A study that appeared today in the online Lancet supports what scientists have known -- that a significant species barrier exists to prevent the transfer of bovine spongiform encephalopathy(BSE) or Mad Cow Disease to humans.The authors estimate that a person would have to eat at least 3.3 pounds of infected neural tissue to be at risk of developing variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) AD something that is unlikely to happen in the U.S. because tissues that could contain the BSE agent if an animal is infected are required to be removed from the human food supply. The authors also said that infectivity transfer from cattle to humans could be 7 to 20 times lower than cattle to cattle transmission through ingestion of the BSE agent. The study was done by French scientist Jean-Phillipe Deslys and his colleagues. (via FSNet listserv, Jan 27, 2005)


No comments: