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USDA and HHS Urged to Strengthen BSE Protections

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July 11, 2005 Phone: 406-672-8969; e-mail: [email protected]



USDA and HHS Urged to Strengthen BSE Protections


(Billings, Mont.) – R-CALF USA today sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Mike Leavitt urging the agency leaders to immediately strengthen U.S. protection measures against bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).



The letter stated if USDA, HHS, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are correct that the most likely routes of introducing BSE into the United States are through the importation of infected live cattle already incubating the disease that are then rendered into feed and mistakenly fed to cattle, or, the importation of contaminated meat-and-bone meal (MBM), then the discovery of BSE in a 12-year-old domestic cow demonstrates the basic BSE protection measures adopted by the United States more than 15 years ago failed to prevent BSE, a foreign animal disease, from entering the domestic cattle herd.



“Present evidence proves that our import restrictions – our first line of defense against BSE – were, and may continue to be, inadequate,” wrote R-CALF USA President Leo McDonnell.



McDonnell noted that U.S. cattle producers already have suffered more than $3 billion in lost export markets as a result of finding a Canadian-origin cow with BSE within the borders of the United States in 2003. McDonnell also wrote that U.S. cattle producers have additionally incurred significant economic costs in attempting to protect the domestic cattle herd and U.S. food supply from BSE, and the industry is now prepared to accept even more costs to do even more.



“There will never be a better time to decisively and effectively contain this disease than right now,” he wrote.



The letter stated the following five improvements to the United States’ current BSE protection measures “are critically important in safeguarding our nation’s cattle and the U.S. food supply:”



1. Prohibit the importation of ruminants and ruminant products from any country with BSE, or from any country that has inadequate import restrictions to ensure BSE is not introduced into those herds; or countries that do not conduct BSE surveillance testing at a level that would allow the detection of BSE at the rate of less than one case per million head of adult cattle, and also seek upward harmonization of standards and practices to a reasonable standard of safety to ensure the U.S. does not become a dumping ground for products banned in other countries.

2. Allow private firms to voluntarily test cattle of any age for BSE to meet international and domestic demand as well as expand the BSE testing program for the identification of BSE, and the elimination of any animals so infected from the food supply, and to accurately monitor any evolution of the disease.

3. Track, identify, and test all cattle previously imported into the national herd; permanently mark all imported cattle entering the national herd; and implement country-of-origin labeling so consumers can choose to purchase beef and beef products from the country or countries of their choice.

4. Strengthen the feed ban to exclude all animal protein and animal by-products from all livestock and poultry feed, including blood, poultry litter, plate waste, tallow, and Specified Risk Materials (SRMs); and, ban the use of ruminant blood meal, bone meal, and ruminant tallow in milk replacer and colostrums.

5. Prohibit Automated Meat Recovery (AMR) systems on cattle over 12 months of age.



The letter also states the discovery of a domestic case means the United States must now pursue a two-part goal: “ . . . prevent any further introduction of BSE into the United States and ensure that any BSE found in the United States is fully contained and eliminated from the food chain.”



In addition to making specific recommendations for strengthening BSE protections, the letter cautioned the agency leaders from attempting to represent an animal identification system as a BSE protection measure while simultaneously refusing to test anything except cattle considered a high-risk for BSE. This action, R-CALF USA’s letter stated, “is creating a false sense of security. Having the ability to track a disease without simultaneously utilizing existing technologies (BSE testing) to identify all possible BSE cases is of little value to an effective BSE prevention program.”



R-CALF USA also expressed concern that Canada’s BSE risk is inherently greater than that of the United States. Included among the many factors listed by R-CALF USA to demonstrate Canada’s heightened risk for BSE are that current testing data show Canada’s BSE prevalence is higher; Canada is known to have a cluster of BSE cases located in a single province (Alberta); Canada had a BSE-positive animal born after implementation of its feed ban; and, Canada lagged well behind the United States in implementing its basic BSE monitoring and protection measures, including its import restrictions imposed on countries where BSE was known to exist.



R-CALF USA urged the Secretaries to act decisively to implement the five recommended improvements to current BSE protections in the United States.



When the Secretaries take these actions, those efforts “will demonstrate to U.S. export customers and U.S. consumers alike that their safety is of paramount importance to the U.S. cattle industry . . . (and) . . . will help maintain the highest level of consumer confidence in the safety of U.S. beef, regardless of future BSE-related events, here or abroad,” wrote McDonnell.



Note: To view R-CALF USA’s letter to USDA and HHS in its entirety, log on to:

www.r-calfusa.com and click “BSE-Litigation.”
 

PORKER

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BSE contamitated Plate Wastes that are rendered is my biggest concern as it can fed unknowenling to all animal classes as then you have cross contamitation.
 

Mike

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PORKER said:
BSE contamitated Plate Wastes that are rendered is my biggest concern as it can fed unknowenling to all animal classes as then you have cross contamitation.

I fail to understand the "Plate Waste" argument. If it's good enough for me or my family, it should be good enough for animals. :???: :???: :???:

Could someone explain the logic?
 

Jessie

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Oiy....yada yada yada.... Canada bad.......have done nothing...lagging in their whatever. Now we have a cluster.......thank god they don't make rings with that definition of cluster.
Same ole same ole.... we the r-calf just want to keep our prices up up and get more coin in our pocket.
Don't care what it takes. Keep the border closed for a few more years to canada buuuuuttttt hey our beef is safer so all other borders should open to us.
If they figure canada should not be able to cross a border because of bse. Well now that the us has...and puullease don't be giving me this but we have only one and you have a cluster crapola a spade is a spade is a spade. So all borders should stayed closed to the us for the same length that rcalf wants for canada...based on the cluster versus the two or one.
 

Jessie

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Could we all just get along.......The common goal should be to get this bse crap out of here.( Insert woman standing there with hands on her hips tappin her toe.)
Color me a dreamer I know.
 

Mike

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reader (the Second) said:
Mike said:
PORKER said:
BSE contamitated Plate Wastes that are rendered is my biggest concern as it can fed unknowenling to all animal classes as then you have cross contamitation.

I fail to understand the "Plate Waste" argument. If it's good enough for me or my family, it should be good enough for animals. :???: :???: :???:

Could someone explain the logic?

Mike - your counter point gives me the chills every time I hear it but here's my thinking on this -- ruminant to ruminant is REALLY bad so plate waste is a real problem if there is any BSE in the U.S. whereas ruminant to human is clearly less bad because there were 30 million BSE cases and current thinking is up to 4000 vCJD cases. Could be only the few hundreds at the lower end.

Of course you all know that I believe we should do what we can to prevent even one unnecessary death from this disease. Because my husband's death was preventable -- they knew dura mater was dangerous but continued and STILL continue to use it -- I am especially sensitive to the risks that are blithely taken without regard for individual impact This has been repeated in the past twenty years with TSEs now THREE times

Human growth hormone -- hundreds of young victims in France
Dura mater grafts -- 150 victims worldwide
BSE epidemic in UK and MBM exports -- victims in Saudi Arabia, Portugal, UK, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Netherlands, Italy, France

Your occupation and my tragedy makes us responsible in my opinion as bearers of specialized knowledge about BSE and TSEs to a help prevent another manmade TSE tragedy.

Furthermore, because of the long incubation and the mystery about transmission, we don't know the scope of AMPLIFICATION of the past tragedies. Thousands of people worldwide are barred from donating blood because they are incubating CJD or vCJD due to the three events I mentioned but they still have surgery and the instruments used on them are used on you all. I was with a woman whose father-in-law died nine years after a brain biopsy -- with a long duration case very similar to my husband's but even slower -- probably because of the smaller amount of infectivity on the biopsy instruments. Ugh. As we age, it appears that our resistence to protease resistant (scrapie) prions becomes weaker and whatever contaminants we've introduced into our bodies through ingestion or medical procedures start their nasty work.
But, but, but, what about the savior............ SRM removal? If that is the bottom line safety measure, we shouldn't HAVE any prions in our food (plate waste)? You are guilty of complicity here in making my point, reader. The very day that plate waste is banned will be the day that I KNOW WITHOUT A DOUBT that this SRM business is a FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY.
 

Mike

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reader (the Second) said:
Mike - you're too clever for me.

But here's a twist: If they ban ruminant to ruminant feed -- with the three loopholes of course (pet food, plate waste, and chicken litter not to mention the entirely acceptable milk replacement for calves of cattle blood) -- then they are telling you that SRM removal is NOT adequate... :mad:

Telling? They are SHOUTING!
 

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