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American Beef Continues to be Safe from BSE ???

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Well-known member
Feb 13, 2005
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By Melvin N. Kramer, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Source: National Meat Association (NMA)

Over the past two weeks there has been increased media attention on BSE in meat. With this

cascade of news, pundits have taken to the airwaves questioning the safety of U.S. beef in

terms of BSE and once again raise the question: Should all animals be tested? The answer to

that question is short and simple…No!

The only ones who would gain from testing every animal would be the test kit manufacturers.

There is no gain for the consuming public in terms of identification of BSE for prevention of

vCJD. The U.S. surveillance protocol is epidemiologically sound.

The United States has examined 605,252 high-risk animals. Originally, this study was going to

last 18 months, but it has been extended and is ongoing. Furthermore, in a separate study,

21,216 healthy, older animals were also tested. In fact, a far greater number of U.S. cattle have

been tested than was originally thought to be necessary by the USDA. The program exceeds

10 times the number the OIE suggested be tested based on our cattle population. To date, with

this enhanced study, the U.S. has reported 1 positive case of BSE in a native-born animal. That

animal was a downer that—when it was presented at a plant producing food for dogs—was

actually rejected. It was never destined for the human food chain and, clearly, it did not get

into the human food chain, nor, for that matter, did it get into dog food.

In 1989 the U.S. initially banned the importation of live ruminants and most ruminant

products from the UK and other countries where BSE is diagnosed. In 1997, the USDA

extended the ban to product coming from anywhere in Europe, and the FDA meanwhile

prohibited the feeding of most mammalian protein to cattle and other ruminants. Then, in

2000, the USDA prohibited all imports of rendered animal protein products, regardless of

species, from 30 countries in Europe—originating, rendered, processed or otherwise associated

with European animal protein products. Most recently, in 2004, downers and specified risk

materials (SRMs), including the small intestines and tonsils in all age animals and the skull,

eyes, brain, trigeminal ganglia, spinal cord, vertebral column and dorsal root ganglia in all

cattle over 30 months of age, were added to the preexisting bans.

This is the current food-safety paradigm. It has worked and, over time, the probability of

finding a BSE positive animal—which could exist like the proverbial “needle in a haystack,”

but is already nearly nonexistent—will significantly decrease.

This chart illustrates what surveillance programs around the world have found:



USA 42,000,000 620,000 1 0.0016

Canada 4,255,326 87,000 4 0.0460

Japan 1,810,050 3,500,000 22 0.0063

U.K. /

TESTED 7,350,000 183,946,185 184,500 1.0030

U.S. and Canada test highest risk cattle or deads and downs over 30 months of age. In the

U.K. experience deads and downs are 29 times more likely to have BSE than normal healthy

cattle. All but one of the 22 BSE positives in Japan were the result of widespread testing of

slaughtered animals before product was to be placed into commerce with the recently

confirmed 22nd case in an older animal that died after exhibiting neurological symptoms.

Consequently, they would have many fewer positive/thousand tested, as they are not testing

the high-risk cattle.

Testing is costly and, because of what’s noted above, ineffective as a preventive measure. The

U.S. firewalls—based on our surveillance and data from the UK, which has done extensive

testing and research—have proven to protect both our animals’ health and, ultimately, human

health. The industry has cooperated and has partnered with the USDA with the firewalls,

with testing, and with trade negotiations.

Lastly, and perhaps least known and understood, the U.S. monitors both retrospectively and

prospectively for the human form of BSE, which is termed vCJD or variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob

disease. Our surveillance has not detected any cases of Americans who have become infected

with vCJD. The only positive finding was a tragic case of a young woman who was born and

lived through her early teenage years in the U.K., came to the U.S., was diagnosed and

subsequently died. Internationally, this case is without question accepted and attributable to

the acquisition of the disease in the United Kingdom.

The bottom line: U.S. beef is safe to eat. Our firewalls are in place. They are working, and there

is no scientific justification for mandatory or voluntary testing above and beyond what the

USDA is conducting through the APHIS program.

Melvin N. Kramer, Ph.D., M.P.H.

President, EHA Consulting Group, Inc.

Source: National Meat Association


Thanks to USDA and the Bush Administration America now has the lowest import standards on the face of the globe.

Dr. Kramer should discuss the need for testing all U.S. cattle with Dr. Stanley Prusiner, the Nobel Prize winning scientist who discovered the source of prion diseases. Prusiner, the world's foremost expert in prion diseases, in the most recent edition of Science said, "why anyone would eat meat from an untested animal is beyond comprehension...and that includes cows."

Prusiner's comments came in an article reporting the findings of a team of researchers from the University of Kentucky who have proven that prions exist in the haunch and leg meat of deer infected with the cervid form of BSE.

Had the U.S. implemented blanket testing of cattle destined for slaughter and consumption in December 2003, Asian markets would not have been closed to U.S. beef and the industry would not have been drained of billions in equity. Instead, Kramer uses his educational status to promote and advocate the bottom line of the packing industry that wants nothing more than to outsource cheap foreign beef while hanging American producers and consumers out to dry.

As Clay Daulton said so aptly - people like Kramer should be forced to look directly into the eyes of those families who have lost loved ones to this horrible disease and defend their position. No risk of human life is acceptable. Period.

NMA's hiring of people like Kramer to advocate their position reminds me of when the Beef Board used checkoff dollars to hire a vegetarian to promote beef.

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