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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: What's up granny.....first name Annie........................Kid Rock


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.

Beef-eaters in Japan will soon, according to this story, be able to find out which farm their steak dinner came from as cows will be given national ID codes trackable by Internet or phone to fight fears of mad cow disease. (via FSNet listserv)

December 3, 2004
Science Volume 306 Issue 5702 p. 1692-1693 Robin W. Carrell
Summary: There are reports that the variant Creutzfedlt-Jacob disease (vCJD) epidemic in the United Kingdom is on the wane, having peaked at 150 cases. However, as Carrell points out in a taut Perspective, two surveys in the United Kingdom compounded by a new study of transgenic mice carrying variant forms of the human prion protein (Wadsworth et al.) suggest that there may be many dormant carriers of vCJD, who remain healthy but potentially could be infective to susceptible individuals. (Via FSNet listserv)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today that the Jamaican Ministry of Agriculture has lifted its ban on U.S. beef products. "We are very pleased with this agreement with Jamaica because it marks an important step forward in getting U.S. beef markets opened," Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman said. LINK

They piggyback on iron-storing proteins after surviving digestive juicesA new study from the Department of Pathology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine shows that the infectious version of prion proteins, the main culprits behind the human form of mad cow disease or variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD), are not destroyed by digestive enzymes found in the stomach. Furthermore, the study finds that the infectious prion proteins, also known as prions, cross the normally stringent intestinal barrier by riding piggyback on ferritin, a protein normally absorbed by the intestine and abundantly present in a typical meat dish. The study appears in the Dec. 15 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience. (via FSNet listserv, by sub)

And this is troubling.......................

Skelton Internal documents obtained by CanWest News Service were cited as showing that a series of secret tests on cattle feed conducted by the federal government earlier this year found that more than half the feed tested contained animal parts not listed in the ingredients, raising troubling questions about whether rules banning the feeding of cattle remains to other cattle -- the primary way in which mad cow disease is spread -- are being routinely violated.


Here's a good editorial explaining our beef tracking system's inadequacies.....

December 19, 2004
The Associated Press
Shannon Dininny YAKIMA, Wash. -- If U.S. federal officials have, according to this story, learned anything after the nation's first case of mad cow disease was discovered, it was that they must speed up efforts to create a national animal identification system.The story says that exactly how that system will work remains unclear as states and industry groups work on pilot projects they hope will serve as a model for a national program.Amy Spillman, spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was cited as saying that any program will remain voluntary on the farm until the federal government develops the best system possible and addresses all concerns, including who bears the cost and maintains confidentiality of farm records, adding, "We want to make sure it's an effective system that producers can use, and that it's tested on the ground. If we ever did go mandatory, we would want to address some of the concerns that have been raised by producers."The story says that the goal of the animal identification system is to ensure that a diseased animal or tainted meat can be traced within 48 hours in the event of a disease outbreak.Valoria Loveland, director of the Washington state Department of Agriculture, was cited as saying the system is even more crucial in the event of an outbreak of a contagious disease, such as avian flu or foot-and-mouth disease, adding, "As bad as the name mad cow is, it was much easier to deal with" than a contagious disease would be. (via FSNet listserv)

More troubling news....

The National Joint Council of Food Inspection Locals was cited as saying Monday that U.S. meat plants are allowing brains and spinal cord from older cattle to enter the food supply, violating strict government regulations aimed at preventing the spread of mad cow disease.The story says USDA has said its ban on brains, spinal cord, eyes and other so-called specific risk material (SRMs) was the most important action it has taken since the discovery of mad cow disease in the United States. LINK

The rule to once again allow imports of live Canadian cattle and all beef products into the U.S. from Canada and other regions at minimal risk for BSE took a major step forward today with the announcement by the United States Department of Agriculture that the rule will be published in the U.S. Federal Register on January 4, to become effective on March 7. (via FSNet listserv)

Not so fast..............

Canada has found what may, according to these stories, be a second case of mad cow disease, just a day after the United States said it planned to reopen its border to Canadian beef. (via FSNet listserv)

U.S. and Canadian regulators were cited as saying Thursday that revelations of a new case of suspected mad-cow disease in a Canadian animal won't hurt the chances of the border re-opening in the spring as promised.The U.S. Department of Agriculture was quoted as saying in a statement that, "[We are] confident that the animal and public health measures that Canada has in place to prevent BSE, combined with existing U.S. domestic safeguards and additional safeguards announced yesterday provide the utmost protections to U.S. consumers and livestock." LINK

"The announcement by the Canadian government that a second case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE or Mad Cow disease) has been detected in Canada should not impact the expanded beef and cattle trade with Canada announced last week," said J. Patrick Boyle, President and CEO of the American Meat Institute (AMI). "Beef trade with Canada should move forward because the measures taken by both the U.S. and Canada to ensure that beef is safe and wholesome, are working as planned."The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) confirmed on Sunday that an eight year old dairy cow from Alberta has tested positive for BSE. No part of the animal entered the human food or animal feed systems. Last week, the USDA announced that it was lifting its 18 month ban on most Canadian cattle and beef imports. In announcing that decision, the USDA noted that, given the risk mitigation strategies against BSE in Canada, the detection of future cases of BSE in Canada should not affect trade. (via FSNet listserv)

Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT)The consumer group Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT) condemned the Bush administration today for its inaction after the third North American case of Mad Cow Disease was confirmed on January 3. Like the two previous Mad Cow Cases this cow originated from a farm in the Canadian province of Alberta. This case was detected just days after the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it would open US borders to Canadian cattle. While this third case was not unexpected given the prior two cases, it raises questions about the safety of Canadian and American beef..This third case follows recent revelations that the ban on feeding cattleproteins back to cattle may have serious gaps. It is illegal to feed cattleproteins to cattle because this is believed to be the primary way that Mad Cowdisease is spread. Recent media reports exposed Canadian government documentsthat found that almost 60 percent of sampled feeds labeled as “vegetable only� actually contained animal proteins. Similar studies in the US by the state of California have also founds flaws in the ban. So far, all cases of Mad Cow detected in North America have been from cattle born before the ban. This may mean that the ban is working, or it may just be that cattle exposed after the ban have not lived long enough for the disease to develop. These recent revelations about the flaws in the ban suggest that more infected cattle may be present than expected. Today FACT criticized the USDA for opening the border to Canadian cattle despite evidence of flaws in the feed ban and for failing to follow through on the steps they promised to take following the earlier Mad Cow cases.Last January, the USDA announced it would begin testing a sample of healthy adult cattle at slaughter in addition to inspecting all sick, dying, or disabled cows. Their announcement was supported by an expert international panel convened by the Secretary of Agriculture, to assess the US response to its first Mad Cow case.In August, 2004, the USDA Inspector General reviewed their testing program and criticized the agency for assuming all infected cattle will be obviouslyimpaired, despite scientific evidence indicating that healthy adult cows can also carry the disease. The Inspector General also found that the sample of apparently healthy animals that USDA planned to test was too small to be meaningful. However, instead of increasing the number of healthy animals in order to provide credible results, the USDA has since quietly dropped the sampling program altogether. "The USDA has not only failed to begin testing healthy cows as recommended by the international expert panel, it has also failed to recognize basic flaws in the testing program it did implement, as pointed out by their own Inspector General," stated FACT's Executive Director, Richard Wood.FACT also has problems with the way another agency has also responded sincethe last Mad Cow case. "Even more disturbing than USDA's inadequate response is the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) complete lack of action in strengthening the feed ban which is the primary tool for keeping the disease from spreading" stated Richard Wood. The FDA announced in January that it would close loopholes in the feed ban, a step FACT has long advocated for, however the FDA has failed to publish any new feed rules whatsoever. The same international review panel that recommended USDA test healthy animals prodded the FDA to take further extensive steps to prevent the spread of Mad Cow through feed. Given the flaws in the Canadian feed ban and the discovery of yet anotherinfected cow any further delays may lead to cases of the human form of Mad Cow Disease, variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease. "The time to act is now, not when people start dying from the disease and it is way too late to respond," concluded Wood.FACT is a Chicago-based not-for-profit that advocates for farming practices that improve the safety of meat, milk and eggs. (via FSNet listserv)

On December 26, Kuwait lifted its ban on all beef imports originating from theUnited States, with the exception of the State of Washington. The decision byKuwait is expected to help hasten similar action by health authorities in theremaining countries of the Arab Gulf Cooperation (GCC) (via FSNet listserv, by sub)

A shipment of 22 beef cattle left the port of Fort Everglades, Fla., on Friday bound for Havana, the first such shipment since the United States imposed an embargo on Cuba in 1959 in the wake of the Cuban Revolution.It is the first installment of shipments of 300 head of cattle, valued at nearly $1 million, which will make the three-day trip to Havana over the next few months. The shipments are an exemption from the embargo under a contract awarded to J.P. Wright & Co., which has shipped beef to Cuba since the 1850s. John Parke Wright IV, the owner of the company, says that Florida-bred cattle are popular with Cubans because they are acclimated to Cuba's tropical climate. In 2000, Congress allowed an exception to the embargo in the case of agricultural products sold for cash. (via FSNet listserv)
Want your McBSE with fries?

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