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Canada, U.S. Urged to Test All Older Cattle for BSE

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Canada, U.S. Urged to Test All OTM Cattle for BSE

Thu February 17, 2005 6:29 PM GMT-05:00
By Roberta Rampton

CANMORE, Alberta (Reuters) - Canada and the United States should consider testing all cattle over the age of 30 months for mad cow disease to ensure they find all cases of the brain-wasting disease, a French expert said on Thursday.

The two countries would then have to destroy only the infective material, such as brain tissue and spinal cords, that can spread bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, said Jean-Philippe Deslys, research director for the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA).

That would assure consumers and export markets that the meat is safe, he added.

"You can have, on one side, better protection of your population and, on the other side, lower cost," said Deslys, who helped develop a BSE rapid screening test that is distributed by Bio-Rad.

"It will be of benefit both to health and to the economy," Deslys said in an interview with Reuters.

Deslys was in North America to discuss research reported in January in The Lancet medical journal that showed one infected cow can contaminate an estimated 490 to 1,400 animals.

After finding their first cases of mad cow disease, Canada and the United States banned brains, spines and other risk materials from cattle over 30 months of age from food for human consumption.

Canada's first homegrown case was detected in May 2003, and it found two more cases in December 2004 and January 2005.

The first U.S. case was found in December 2003 in a cow that was born in Canada.

Canadian officials have said removing the risk materials protects public health, making widespread tests unnecessary.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has tested more than 30,000 old and sickly cattle since January 2004 in a quest to establish the prevalence of mad cow disease in the cattle herd.

Deslys said testing all older cattle would give Canada an accurate count of infected animals. Destroying all risk material from sick animals would eliminate any chance that the material could infect other cattle.

European countries, which test all older animals and destroy all the risk materials, could also reconsider their measures to destroy only those that are infective, he said.

Canada has proposed stricter feed rules that would require all risk materials from older cattle to be destroyed, rather than used as protein in pig and cattle feed, to reduce the chance that cattle could eat contaminated material.

Deslys said he wants to spur scientific debate on BSE control measures, but noted that regulatory changes may be out of scientists' hands because of the economic impact of trade bans resulting from cases of the disease.

"All these are political decisions at the end," he said. "What we say is one thing, but you have many aspects which are not scientific."
 

TimH

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I wonder if this guy has a financial interest in selling more of the Bio-rad test kits that he helped develop???? :wink:
 

cowsense

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Financial interests; Hell these guys have been circling like vultures ever since our first case of BSE! Just do the math on the North American kill numbers and see the business volumes that they hope to pick up! Keep in mind that the countries that are testing everything are the ones that ignored the basic prevention protocols and experienced fullblown outbreaks of the disease with a huge loss of consumer confidence. Our domestic industries problems with BSE are minor in comparison and food safety can be addressed through the removal of SRM's, feed bans etc. . The last thing our industry needs is to be saddled with any more unnecessary costs.
 

Bro

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Just to play the devils avocate, the guy does have a point. If we did test all animals over 30 months, we would not have to remove the SRMs and that will save the industry as a whole a fair amount of money, don't you think? If the test is proven good and inexpensive, it probably would solve a lot of problems with companies/people skirting the "feed ban". The proposed government feed law that would not allow cattle SRM to be made into dog food/ chicken feed is going to come out of the producers pocket anyway. If we are not going to test, it is the way to go, but if you are going to test, and the cost is minmimal, then testing is the way to go. The whole cow can be used in this case.

Quote "Deslys said testing all older cattle would give Canada an accurate count of infected animals. Destroying all risk material from sick animals would eliminate any chance that the material could infect other cattle.

European countries, which test all older animals and destroy all the risk materials, could also reconsider their measures to destroy only those that are infective, he said."


.. I was wondering what they did in Europe, I assumed that they only destroyed the SRM from the ones that tested positive. That seems like a waste of money to destroy the good stuff, something that some spinless politician would dream up. Europeans are known to over-react when it comes to their food though.
 

Mike

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"If we did test all animals over 30 months, we would not have to remove the SRMs"

I believe he has some merit also but we would still have to remove srms.
The SRMs are removed when the hide/head is removed and the test is not immediate. How would you file the srms of each individual cow so that you could retrieve it when the test results are in and one tested positive?
Could be a nightmare keeping track of all the pieces and parts.
 

Bro

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good point. It depends on how fast this "rapid test" is or if any test in the future can be developed that would take only say a few minutes. Then it may not be such a big deal. With existing tests, and the way our high capacity plants are set up now, I agree with you 100% that it will not work
 

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