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What about the OTHER Texas cow?

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Bill

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This was the release on the earlier Texas cow that supposedly slipped through and wasn't tested.


FDA Statement
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Statement
May 4, 2004
Media Inquiries: 301-827-6242
Consumer Inquiries: 888-INFO-FDA

Statement on Texas Cow With Central Nervous System Symptoms
On Friday, April 30 th , the Food and Drug Administration learned that a cow with central nervous system symptoms had been killed and shipped to a processor for rendering into animal protein for use in animal feed.

FDA, which is responsible for the safety of animal feed, immediately began an investigation. On Friday and throughout the weekend, FDA investigators inspected the slaughterhouse, the rendering facility, the farm where the animal came from, and the processor that initially received the cow from the slaughterhouse.

FDA's investigation showed that the animal in question had already been rendered into "meat and bone meal" (a type of protein animal feed). Over the weekend FDA was able to track down all the implicated material. That material is being held by the firm, which is cooperating fully with FDA.

Cattle with central nervous system symptoms are of particular interest because cattle with bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE, also known as "mad cow disease," can exhibit such symptoms. In this case, there is no way now to test for BSE. But even if the cow had BSE, FDA's animal feed rule would prohibit the feeding of its rendered protein to other ruminant animals (e.g., cows, goats, sheep, bison).

FDA is sending a letter to the firm summarizing its findings and informing the firm that FDA will not object to use of this material in swine feed only. If it is not used in swine feed, this material will be destroyed. Pigs have been shown not to be susceptible to BSE. If the firm agrees to use the material for swine feed only, FDA will track the material all the way through the supply chain from the processor to the farm to ensure that the feed is properly monitored and used only as feed for pigs.

To protect the U.S. against BSE, FDA works to keep certain mammalian protein out of animal feed for cattle and other ruminant animals. FDA established its animal feed rule in 1997 after the BSE epidemic in the U.K. showed that the disease spreads by feeding infected ruminant protein to cattle.

Under the current regulation, the material from this Texas cow is not allowed in feed for cattle or other ruminant animals. FDA's action specifying that the material go only into swine feed means also that it will not be fed to poultry.

FDA is committed to protecting the U.S. from BSE and collaborates closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture on all BSE issues. The animal feed rule provides crucial protection against the spread of BSE, but it is only one of several such firewalls. FDA will soon be improving the animal feed rule, to make this strong system even stronger.
 

Mike

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Meatpacker skips required test on downer cow
THANKS, HAL C.
by Richard Cowan, Reuters News Agency

May 3, 2004

Federal inspectors failed to perform a required mad cow disease test on a suspicious animal in Texas, the U.S. Agriculture Department said Monday, just as the Bush administration is pushing to reopen world markets to U.S. beef.

Lone Star Beef said in a statement that it was "instructed by the USDA to dispose of the animal" and immediately sent the suspicious cow to rendering.
The crippled animal slipped through the USDA's mad cow testing regime at a time when the government is trying to convince Japan and other nations that it has imposed enough safeguards to protect the food supply.

The cow at a Lone Star Beef plant in San Angelo, Texas, was condemned on April 27 after a federal veterinarian "observed the cow stagger and fall," according to a USDA statement. But instead of holding the cow for testing, the carcass was sent to rendering, without being tested for the brain-wasting disease.

Meat from the animal did not enter the human food chain, according to USDA.

"Standard procedures call for animals condemned due to possible CNS (central nervous system) disorder to be kept" until federal officials collect brain tissue for testing, the USDA said. "However, this did not occur in this case." The USDA said it was investigating the reason.

USDA officials and veterinarians have stressed that a cow could stagger and fall because of a broken bone or other illnesses, not just because of mad cow disease.

Japan wants all U.S. cows tested

The problem in Texas comes four months after the United States found its first case of mad cow disease in a Canadian-born cow slaughtered in Washington state. That case abruptly halted nearly $4 billion worth of U.S. beef shipments. While Mexico, a huge buyer of American beef, has lifted some of its import restrictions, Japan, the largest foreign importer, has refused to ease its total trade ban.

Japan has insisted that it wants all U.S. cattle tested for the disease. But USDA and U.S. meat industry officials argue there is no scientific justification for testing all cattle.

Lone Star Beef said in a statement that it was "instructed by the USDA to dispose of the animal" and immediately sent the suspicious cow to rendering.

"At Lone Star Beef, food safety is our top priority at all times," the company said. "We are cooperating with federal officials as they review this situation."

Under stricter regulations adopted by the USDA since the first case of U.S. mad cow disease was found, no crippled or "downer" cattle can be processed into human food. The animals can still be rendered or processed at high temperatures to make bone meal, soap, cosmetics, and other industrial products.

A spokeswoman for the American Meat Institute said the group was "glad the animal was kept out of the food supply," but she did not know why the necessary testing was not done.

Mad cow disease has been linked to a variant human disease responsible for at least 140 deaths, mostly in Europe.

A spokesman for the Denver-based U.S. Meat Export Federation said the problem in Texas "adds a new wrinkle" to beef trade negotiations with Tokyo that are getting underway.

Last week, USDA officials said they hoped Japan, a $1.4 billion market for American beef, would relax its trade ban by the end of summer.

Foreign importers and retailers have demanded more details on the Texas incident, the federation spokesman said.

The cow in Texas fell through the USDA's safety net as the government expands efforts to find out if the Washington state cow was an exception or marked a bigger mad cow problem.

Last year, USDA tested only 20,000 cattle for mad cow disease out of about 36 million slaughtered, a level criticized by consumer groups as inadequate. For an 18-month period starting in June, USDA aims to test at least 200,000 cattle.

"This is deeply troubling, that USDA is not testing the cattle showing signs of central nervous system disease. These are exactly the cattle that are at highest risk of actually having BSE," said Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety expert with the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

USDA investigators and a congressional committee are conducting separate probes into whether the Washington state cow was a downer, as USDA claimed on Dec. 23.


Published by
Reuters News Agency
 

Mike

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This article claims that Western Blot was used in 1997? If that is the case why was it not used in Nov. 2004? I don't think WB was around in 1997? I could be wrong, but the Prionics WB test wasn't approved in the EU until 1998?

No sign of mad cow in 1997 cows

By Steve Mitchell
Published 4/15/2005 6:46 PM

WASHINGTON, April 15 (UPI) -- Two U.S. cows from 1997 that recent media
reports indicated might not have been properly screened for mad cow
disease were both tested multiple times and were found negative for the
deadly disease, United Press International learned in a two-year
investigation of the cases.

At the time both cases occurred, there was initial suspicion they might
be positive for mad cow disease -- also known as bovine spongiform
encephalopathy or BSE -- but the UPI investigation turned up documents
and witnesses that strongly indicated the cows were negative.

UPI decided not to publicize the cases due to documented evidence of the
negative test results and the strong opinion of several internationally
recognized BSE experts that the U.S. Department of Agriculture had
handled the cases appropriately and legitimately had ruled out mad cow
disease. Due to the attention the cases have received in recent media
reports, however, UPI is now publishing the information it has gathered.

In the first case, in May 1997, a cow with signs of a brain disorder
appeared at Oriskany Falls Packing Plant in Oriskany Falls, N.Y. At the
time, USDA inspectors, including agency veterinarian Masuo Doi, became
concerned the cow might have contracted BSE.

Subsequent tests detected no traces of the BSE pathogen, however, and
produced no indication the cow was infected, according to USDA documents
obtained by UPI via the Freedom of Information Act.

Top BSE experts reviewed the documents for UPI and all agreed the cow
looked negative and even commended the USDA's handling of the case.

In addition, a portion of the cow's brain was secretly transferred to
the National Institutes of Health, which independently tested the sample
and again found no evidence of BSE.

Another cow that appeared at the same packing plant in August 1997 was
tested using three different techniques and produced no indication it
had BSE or any similar disease, according to USDA testing records UPI
obtained via Freedom of Information Act requests.

Doi, who was involved in both cases, was not aware of the negative
results of the NIH test on the first cow until last February, when he
was informed by UPI. He then said he accepted that the animal did not
have BSE.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, which aired television, radio and
print stories about the cases Tuesday, used clips of an interview
conducted with Doi before he was informed of the negative NIH test
results. The segment stated that Doi "says he is haunted by fears that
the right tests were not done and that his own department did not
properly investigate whether the cow had BSE."

The CBC story also referred to the Oriskany Falls plant as the
slaughterhouse that "eight years ago may have become the home of the
first American case of mad cow."

Felicia Nestor, a consultant to Public Citizen who was peripherally
involved in the two cases and featured in the CBC story, sent a letter
to CBC Producer Timothy Sawa on April 6 -- six days before the segment
went to air -- clarifying that she and Doi both had concluded it was
impossible to determine whether either cow had BSE.

Referring to "the possibility that either of the two cows had the
disease," Nestor wrote, "At this point, we think it impossible to draw
that conclusion," due to evidence to the contrary.

Nestor also expressed her concern that Sawa did not inform her during an
on-camera interview about the NIH negative test on the May cow or that a
test that came back positive on the August cow later was found to be
contaminated and invalid.

"From the evidence I am aware of at this point, it looks like these cows
were negative," Nestor told UPI. She added she is more concerned about
cows that were never tested for BSE than "anything about these cases."

Sawa and CBC Executive Producer Susanne Reber did not respond to UPI
requests for comment. From January through March 2005, a CBC crew
including Sawa collaborated with UPI on the mad cow investigation. UPI
subsequently withdrew from the collaboration.

Doi said Thursday he did not think the CBC stories accurately portrayed
his position on the cases. The context of the stories "kind of twisted"
my position, he said.

"I told Timothy (Sawa) you can't come up with presumptive conclusions
whether (the August cow) was negative or positive, you just have to
leave it as unknown," Doi added. "I don't think you have enough to say
that BSE is being covered up in the United States," he said.

The USDA rejected the assertion the cows were improperly tested for BSE.

Agency spokesman Jim Rogers told UPI he had contacted the CBC and
complained that their coverage of the cases omitted pertinent details
from the USDA documents indicating both cows had been extensively tested
and no trace of BSE was found.

"We showed them the documents ... they just chose to ignore it," Rogers
said.

The May 1997 animal initially generated alarms internally at the USDA.
Pathologists at the agency's laboratory in Athens, Ga., observed
microscopic holes or spongiform changes in the brain tissue, which can
be an indication of mad cow. However, the Athens lab did not normally
conduct BSE tests and the holes were later determined to be in the wrong
region of the brain for BSE. The holes were in the white matter of the
brain, rather than the gray matter, where they typically occur when
caused by the mad cow pathogen.

Still, the agency rushed the brain samples to its National Veterinary
Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, which specializes in conducting BSE
tests. The USDA convened a panel of experts, including some from the
University of Iowa, who looked at the brain tissue and quickly concluded
it was obviously not BSE. Further tests conducted at Cornell University
indicated the cow had contracted a rare brain disease called progressive
ataxia.

The agency also ran two types of tests, called immunohistochemistry and
Western blot, that are used to detect prions, thought to be the pathogen
that causes mad cow. Neither test picked up any evidence of prions.

It does appear that a region of the brain known as the obex -- which is
preferred for testing for BSE because it is where prions typically
concentrate -- was missing from the tissue sample, but experts said it
still was possible to arrive at a solid conclusion the cow in this case
did not have BSE.

In addition, missing obex is not uncommon and happens probably in every
country that tests for BSE, according to Elizabeth Mumford, a
veterinarian and BSE expert at Safe Food Solutions in Bern, Switzerland,
a company that provides advice on reducing mad cow risk to industry and
governments.

Mumford said she would be more comfortable in the final diagnosis if the
obex had been tested, but added, "I still think it is likely a case of
governmental panic over an apparent something that really did turn out
to be nothing."

Doi sent the secret tissue sample to Joe Gibbs, the head of the NIH's
Laboratory for Central Nervous System Studies, a now-defunct lab that
had been conducted groundbreaking work on made cow and similar disorders
in humans.

Bruce Johnson, a former NIH scientist who conducted the test on the
sample, said he remembered the case.

"That was a negative cow," Johnson told UPI, noting he tested at least
three different samples from the brain tissue using the Western blot
method. "It was clearly negative," he said.

Johnson said he did not know whether the cow's obex was included in the
samples he tested, but noted he had worked extensively with mad cow-like
diseases at the NIH in humans and a variety of animal species. Based on
the cow's advanced symptoms, he said, if the cow had been infected with
BSE, he likely would have detected prions in other regions of the brain.

Johnson also said he knew Joe Gibbs quite well and felt certain if Gibbs
had thought for a moment the cow was positive, he would have published
an urgent paper about it in a scientific journal, because it would have
been the first case of mad cow disease in the United States.

Several mad cow testing experts reviewed the records from the first case
for UPI and all agreed the USDA acted properly.

"It seems to me that USDA went above and beyond the book in dealing with
this case, and legitimately ruled out BSE," said one of the BSE experts,
who requested anonymity. The expert, who works at one of the most
respected BSE labs in the world, added, "They handled it very well."

Stephen Dealler, a medical microbiologist at Britain's Lancaster Royal
infirmary, who has been researching BSE since it first appeared in the
United Kingdom in the 1980s, told UPI, "I have had a look and what it
shows to me so far is that they (the USDA) have tried quite hard and
were extremely worried at the time ... but have got good reasons to say
that no BSE was found."

Dealler jokingly said he was embarrassed he could not find much to
criticize the agency for, because he had developed a reputation of being
a bulldog on BSE.

"I am very confident that the proper diagnosis has been made," said a
veterinary pathologist specializing in the diagnosis of neurological
diseases and transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, or TSEs, who
works at another of the premiere BSE testing labs in the world. The
source also requested confidentiality.

"I think they did enough to rule out BSE in this case," the pathologist
told UPI.

In the August 1997 case, another cow with neurological symptoms appeared
at Oriskany Falls. This time, Doi obtained cerebrospinal fluid from the
animal and sent it to Joe Gibbs. Gibbs tested the sample using a
patented procedure he was developing for diagnosing a disorder similar
to mad cow disease that occurs in humans. The CSF test came back
positive, but the sample contained blood, which would cause the test to
turn positive whether the animal was infected with mad cow or not.

It is unclear whether Gibbs, who is now deceased, understood the
ramifications of blood contamination or just wanted to double-check the
status of the cow, but he called Linda Detwiler, a veterinarian and head
of the USDA's BSE surveillance program at the time, and asked her to
look into the matter.

The cow's brain already had been screened using immunohistochemistry --
the normal screening method used for BSE suspects -- and it was
negative, but to make sure nothing had been overlooked, Detwiler asked
the USDA lab to run the Western blot, which also found nothing to
indicate BSE.

A report in USDA's testing records notes that a histopathological
examination -- a rudimentary test not considered reliable for excluding
mad cow cases -- was "of questionable validity because it is unknown
whether" the tissue being examined included the obex region.

The report went on to state, however, the examination "revealed no
combination of lesions, which is consistent with any transmissible
spongiform encephalopathy, including (BSE)."

Based on these examinations, the lab concluded, "No evidence of
infection by any agent which is known to cause a transmissible
spongiform encephalopathy was found."

Mumford reviewed the records of the case for UPI and said, "I think
actually they did a good job."

She said her colleagues in Switzerland also had looked at the documents
and they agreed there was nothing to indicate this cow might have been
positive. "There's no alarm bells ringing over on this side of pond,"
she said.

Detwiler, who is now retired from the USDA, but is still respected by
BSE experts and has a reputation for being forthright, told UPI, "I
didn't have any doubt then or now that it wasn't BSE."

--

Steve Mitchell is UPI's Medical Correspondent. E-mail: [email protected]

Copyright © 2001-2005 United Press International


http://www.upi.com/view.cfm?StoryID=20050415-124715-6918r


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