U.S. eyes reducing mad cow risk from vaccines
FDA discloses bovine import issues
50 state conference call on TSEs: 9 Jan 01
UN: Mad Cow goes global
Germany rejects EU charge it bungled mad cow scare
CWD spread to Rawlings: Elk Refuge feeding on verge of collapse
French nvCJD: officials "acted in good faith"
Germany to test sheep for mad cow disease
Japan imposes ban on European beef imports
Australia offal sales boom
Dutch say German beef posed BSE risk for years
Austria bullish on enforcing ban on German beef
Bizarre report on ABC Nightline
Sat, Dec 23, 2000 UPI Announcement by CDC at MMWR; FDA announcementU.S. public health officials want doses of vaccines made with materials from cattle replaced if they come from certain countries where the so-called Mad Cow disease either exists or could be brought in through porous import rules.
There's no evidence linking cases of the human version of Mad Cow disease to the vaccines, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and benefits from vaccines far outweigh any "theoretical and remote" risk posed by taking those shots. [Two massive earlier accidents involving TSE transmission by veterinary vaccines are well-documented. -- webmaster]
Moreover, the U.S. Public Health Service is urging people to continue getting vaccinations on a regular schedule, and won't voice any preference for one licensed product over another.
But the CDC told physicians and health officials in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Friday that its recommendation "is intended to reduce even the remote risk" of contracting variant Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease (nvCJD), the human form of bovine spongiform encephelopathy, or Mad Cow disease. [Since no actual measurement of BSE infectivity levels, if any, in vaccines has been done, the scientific basis for issuing reassurances remains murky. The statement reflects a major policy shift from risk analysis (respond only if a problem develops) to precautionary principle.-- webmaster]
Among the vaccines potentially involved because their bovine material came from countries that could harbor nvCJD are: type-b flu shots from Aventis Pasteur, also marketed by Smith-Kline Beecham in the U.S. as OmniHIB; combination shots for diptheria, pertussis (Whooping Cough) and tetanus from North American Vaccine, Inc. and Smith-Kline Beecham; and, Smith-Kline's Havrix hepatitis-A vaccine. In addition, officials point to vaccines made by Aventis, Bioport and Lederle for polio, anthrax and rabies because the bovine materials used to make them can't be traced to a specific country.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has already asked drug-makers to replace bovine-derived materials obtained from countries on a list of possible CJD or BSE harbors maintained by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, and the companies have all either agreed to make the change or have already done so.
"FDA anticipates that most of these changes will be completed in 2001, " CDC said [ie, there will be no recall by FDA of any existing vaccine stocks that do not meet guidelines. -- webmaster].
Drug-makers use various materials from cattle to process vaccines. Gelatin, which can be made from bovine hides and rendered bones, is used as a nutrient-rich medium to grow bacteria and cell cultures from which to harvest viruses. Nutrient broths used to grow bacteria are typically beef broths; drug-makers that need to grow cells to propagate viruses need calf serum to keep the cells intact and help them grow.
USDA's list once included only countries and areas in which BSE was confirmed, such as the U.K., Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, France, Switzerland and Oman. But two years ago the agency expanded the list to account for countries and areas in which import requirements were either lighter than those in the U.S. or in which disease surveillance was inadequate. That's why today all European countries, even those that haven't reported BSE cases, are on the USDA's list.
CDC's recommendation follows a joint meeting this past summer, convened by the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER), of two advisory committees to review the results of CBER's assessment of manufacturing processes for nvCJD risk. The panelists cited the inherent low risk of the bovine materials involved -- the type and amount of tissue, the specific time and country or the herd of origin, for example -- for their belief that the risk of contracting nvCJD from a vaccine is highly remote. Also a factor was the dilution of materials during manufacture.
Tue, 26 Dec 2000 FDA document"Current list of vaccines using bovine-derived materials from countries on the USDA's BSE list:
-- Aventis Pasteur, S.A.¹s Haemophilus influenzae type b conjugate vaccine, ActHIB ( also marketed as OmniHIB by SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals)
-- North American Vaccine Inc.¹s diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccine, Certiva
-- SmithKline Beecham Biological¹s DTaP vaccine, Infanrix (the diphtheria toxoid manufactured by Chiron Behring GmbH & Co. for use in Infanrix is the only component of the vaccine manufactured with bovine-derived materials from a country on the USDA list)
-- SmithKline Beecham Biological¹s Hepatitis A vaccine, Havrix.
In some other cases, the source of the bovine-derived materials is unknown, in part because manufacturers have not always maintained or had access to records of the sourceof such materials, particularly in the 1980s and early 1990s, before the connection between BSE and nvCJD was first suggested. Vaccines that use bovine-derived material of unknown origin obtained in 1980 or thereafter (the current best estimate is that BSE first emerged in 1980) include: :
-- Aventis Pasteur, S.A.inactivated polio vaccine, IPOL -- BioPort Anthrax vaccine -- BioPort Rabies vacine -- Lederle Laboratories Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine, PNU-IMUNE23.
...To minimize the possibility of contamination in such products, the FDA, in 1993 (published in the Federal Register on August 29, 1994, 59 FR 44591), and again in 1996, recommended that manufacturers not use materials derived from cattle that were born, raised, or slaughtered in countries where BSE is known to exist; the FDA referred manufacturers to the listing of such countries that is maintained by USDA...."
FDA has woken up to the German situation and vaccine disclosures from the UK. Even countries reporting zero BSE are now on the USDA list because of UK protein byproduct imports and/or inadequate surveillance. Under these criteria, perhaps the US and Canada should also be on the list. The UN health authority gave a figure of 500,000 tons of global protein byproduct exports from BS- affected countries.
FDA has the admirable goal of removing these vaccines from the marketplace over the next year or so though no evidence exists for health impacts and even risk is unproven. It is voluntary though. When FDA the say "should" instead of "shall", it is agency-speak for not required.
This works about as well as one might expect: "earlier this year, CBER learned that its recommendations regarding the sourcing of bovine materials for the manufacture of vaccines had not been followed in at least one instance."
In other words, FDA has allowed vaccine sales for the last 15 years without any validated documentation on how and where they were sourced -- this is the 5th year into nvCJD. No punitive action can be taken because it was a "should" situation for the manufacturer.
The public will sense a contradiction. If there is no risk, why change over to BSE-free sourcing? If there is risk, why is changing over voluntary, shouldn't there be a recall of stockpiles? The FDA has stepped back from regulating vaccine safety, instead relying on an honor system and voluntary compliance. The same paradox arose with blood donors: if visitors to the UK are not at risk for nvCJD, why can't they donate? If they are at risk, will they get nvCJD, how safe have blood products been?
23 December 2000 Lancet 356, Number 9248 Karen BirchardThe Irish government announced on Dec 19 that it had been informed on Dec 14 by Evans/Medeva, the British vaccine company, that one UK blood donor whose plasma was used to make a batch of human serum albumin used as a stabiliser in its oral polio vaccine, has recently been diagnosed as having the new variant form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (nvCJD).
The Minister for Health, Micheál Martin said there is almost certainly no risk to the children and adults who received the vaccine. However, he said the public had the right to know about the nvCJD donor and he stressed that there was no honourable alternative to telling the public since he did not want anyone to find out through panic stories in the general media.
About 83 500 doses of the vaccine were distributed in Ireland between January, 1998, and January, 1999. This person's donation was one of 22 353 used to make a pool. This in turn was combined with another pool to give a final dilution of 1/63 866. The minister said that while it is not possible to state in medicine that there is absolutely zero risk, the expert advice, both national and international, indicates that in this situation it is almost certainly the case.
CBER Advisory Committee MeetingsThe meeting will be held on January 18, 2001, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on January 19, 2001, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30p.m. Location: Holiday Inn, Versailles Ballrooms I and II, 8120 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814, (301) 652-2000.
Contact Person: William Freas, Ph.D., or Sheila D. Langford (301) 827-0314, or FDA Advisory Committee Information Line, 1-800-741-8138 (301-443-0572 in the Washington, DC area), code 12392. Please call this Information Line for up-to-date information on this meeting.
Agenda: On January 18, 2001, the Committee will discuss whether recent information about new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (nvCJD) in France and bovine spongiform encephalopathy in France and other European countries suggests a need to reconsider FDA policies on suitability of blood donors who li!ved or traveled in those countries [ie, FDA could ban blood donors who resided in Germany for 6 months or more -- webmaster].
In the afternoon the Committee will discuss the risks of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) and nvCJD transmission by human cells, tissues and cellular and tissue-based products intended for implantation, transplantation, infusion, or transfer that are currently or proposed to be regulated by FDA, and the possible deferral of donors who have resided in the United Kingdom [ie, FDA could ban cell and tissue donation as well as derived biologicals from people who resided in these countries for 6 months or more -- webmaster].
On January 19, 2001, the Committee will discuss issues related to deer and elk infected with or exposed to chronic wasting disease in the U.S. and potential for human exposure. [Tens of thousands of hunters, including those exposed in the fall 2000 hunting season, have consumed venison from TSE-affected animals. Elk velvet from CWD captive elk is a further potential concern that FDA may belatedly address. -- webmaster]
In the afternoon the Committee will discuss whether a history of possible exposure to various animal transmissible spongiform encephalopathy agents should be considered by the FDA in determining suitability of blood donors [ie, should FDA exclude hunters exposed to CWD and people exposed to scrapie sheep? FDA may exclude the former but obviously not the latter because of impacts on blood availability.-- webmaster]
Oral Presentations: Between approximately 10:30 a.m. to 10:50 a.m., and 3:00 p.m. to 3:20 p.m. on both days oral presentations from the public will be scheduled. Those desiring to make formal oral presentations should notify the contact person by January 12, 2001. Closed Committee Deliberations: On January 18, 2001, from 5:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. the meeting will be closed to permit the discussion and review of trade secret and/or confidential information (5 U.S.C. 552b(c)(4)).
FDA document dated 24 Jan 00 apparentlyjust releasedOpinion (webmaster):
We see from this document that FDA is putting a (voluntary of course) ban on neural and glandular material from domestic and foreign scrapie infected sheep flocks (not just clinically affected animals). For decades, the government has been insisting, in the face of expermiental transmission to primates and proxy evidence to the contrary, that scrapie doesn't transmit to humans. How exactly are manucturers supposed to implement safe sourcing without large-scale scrapie testing?
It turns out the ban on BSE material from the UK isn't exactly comprehensive:
"Due to the difficulty in verifying the presence of high-risk tissues in finished dietary supplements or cosmetic products, this import alert is limited to bulk lots of these tissues from BSE-countries and the additional countries listed above.
The FDA has recommended that manufacturers who use bovine by-products voluntarily investigate the geographic source(s) of any bovine or bovine material used in their products (generally neural or glandular tissue or tissue extracts). The Agency also suggested that each manufacturer develop a plan "to assure, with a high degree of certainty," that such materials are not from BSE-countries, as identified by USDA's APHIS, or from scrapie-infected sheep flocks, either foreign or domestic.
The USDA regulations permit, under certain conditions, the importation of some cosmetic ingredients (i.e., collagen, collagen products, amniotic liquids or extracts, placental liquids or extracts, serum albumin, and serocolostrum) derived from ruminants from BSE-countries (see 9 CFR 95.4).
The USDA regulations do not apply to imports of:
-- cosmetic products that are packaged and ready for sale;
-- bovine-derived materials intended for human consumption as either finished dietary supplement products or for use as ingredients in dietary supplements; or
-- human food (except meat, i.e., skeletal muscle)."
IA #17-04, Revision - 01/24/00, Import Alert #17-04,"Detention Without Physical Examination Of Bulk Shipments Of High-risk Bovine Tissue From Bse-Countries--Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy" ...
TYPE OF ALERT: DETENTION WITHOUT PHYSICAL EXAMINATION (NOTE: This import Alert contains guidance to FDA field personnel only. It does not establish any requirements, or create any rights or obligations on FDA or on regulated entities.) PRODUCT: Bulk shipments of high-risk bovine tissues and tissue-derived ingredients (see Attachment A for a list of affected products). PRODUCT CODE: 17Y--99, meat and meat products, N.E.C. 53P--01, Bovine (bovine amniotic fluid), cosmetic raw materials. (Review of EEPS entry data indicates that this code may also be used for bovine placenta) 53P--02, Collagen, cosmetic raw materials 54G--01, Bovine, animal byproducts/extracts 54G--99, Animal byproducts/extracts, N.E.C. PROBLEM: POISONOUS/DELETERIOUS SUBSTANCE - N.E.C. (PSNC) CODES: DIET INGRE; INGRED FIL; COSMETIC; BSE FILTH; INSAN BSE... COUNTRIES: ALBANIA (AL), AUSTRIA (AT), BELGIUM (BE) , BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA (BA), BULGARIA (BG), CROATIA (HR), the CZECH REPUBLIC (CS), DENMARK (DK), the FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF YUGOSLAVIA (YU), FINLAND (FI), FRANCE (FR) , GERMANY (DE), GREECE (GR), HUNGARY (HU), IRELAND, REPUBLIC of (IE) , ITALY (IT), LEICHSTENSTEIN, , LUXEMBOURG (LU), the former YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA (MK), NETHERLANDS (NL), NORWAY (NO), OMAN (OM), POLAND (PL), PORTUGAL (PT) , ROMANIA (RO), the SLOVAK REPUBLIC (SLOVAKIA) (SK), SLOVENIA (SI), SPAIN (ES), SWEDEN (SE), SWITZERLAND (CH) UNITED KINGDOM (Great Britain & Northern Ireland, and Falkland Islands) (GB) NOTE: These countries are BSE affected countries , and/or have less restrictive import requirements than those that would be acceptable in the U.S., The list , of countries, may change and the Import Alert will be revised accordingly.... Since 1991, USDA has prohibited the importation into the U.S. of certain tissues and organs from ruminants from countries where BSE exists (BSE-countries: United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Republic of Ireland, , the, Netherlands, Oman, Portugal, and Switzerland - refer to 9 CFR 94.18). , On January 6, 1998, USDA issued an interim rule listing other countries because of import requirements less restrictive than those that would be acceptable for importation into the U.S. and/or because of inadequate surveillance, which would present a significant risk of introducing BSE., USDA's regulations are intended to protect livestock in the United States from contracting TSEs and address known or strongly suspected modes of transmission. The USDA regulations permit, under certain conditions, the importation of some cosmetic ingredients (i.e., collagen, collagen products, amniotic liquids or extracts, placental liquids or extracts, serum albumin, and serocolostrum) derived from ruminants from BSE-countries (see 9 CFR 95.4).
....FDA is not, at this time, recommending restrictions on the use of ovine-derived materials in the manufacture of dietary supplement and cosmetic products and ingredients, as the epidemiological evidence now appears convincing that scrapie is not related to TSEs in humans.
...To assist manufacturers and importers whose products are within the scope of this recommendation in developing their plans, the following guidance is provided:
a. To ensure that bovine-derived materials (listed in appendix A) used in the product(s) are from non BSE-countries, identify all countries where the animals used were born, raised or slaughtered. The supplier of the bovine-derived materials should provide the necessary records.
b. Maintain traceable records for each lot of bovine-derived material and records of products containing the materials.
c. Maintain records for those products manufactured at foreign sites or by foreign manufacturers which contain bovine-derived materials.
... A number of dietary supplement products use bovine-derived tissues or extracts of such tissues as ingredients. These ingredients include, for example, specific tissues and organs or their extracts (e.g., liver powder, "orchic" [testicular] extracts, ovaries, eye tissue, mammary tissue), glandular powders or extracts (e.g., adrenal gland, thyroid gland), or specific substances extracted from glands or tissues (e.g., melatonin extracted from the pineal gland).
Tuesday, January 9, 2001 Call 1-888-273-9887 Richard H. Barnes, Director Division of Federal-State Relations (HFC-150) Rockville, Md.(301) 827-6906 FAX: (301) 443-2143A special "50 State Conference Call" to discuss BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) issues for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulated animal feed products in the United States and imported animal feeds. The conference call will discuss the FDA proposed response to the current BSE issue and the assistance needed from state feed and agriculture programs.
This issue may impact all states and all animal feed and production industries.
The 50 State call is scheduled for Tuesday, January 9, 2001 from 1:00-2:00 pm EST. Any state agency responsible for animal feed issues wishing to participate should call 1-888-273-9887 and ask to be connected to the "50 State BSE Call".
The conference host operator will explain how to participate, including asking questions during the call. If possible, please coordinate within your state to utilize only one phone line per state agency.
We request that you forward this message to your agency management and feed coordinators or other agencies or departments who may be responsible for any animal feed issues related to FDA regulated products.
The agenda will be as follows:
1. Center For Veterinary Medicine (FDA) - Discussion of the problem related to BSE events in Europe and the impact on US feed ingredients for animals and feed operations. Discussion of the proposed actions/inspections/compliance of licensed and unlicensed feed mills, commercial feed manufacturers, animal feed imports, renderers, protein blenders, on-farm mixers, and ruminant feeders.
2. Office of Regional Operations (FDA) - Discussion of contracting/working with states to inspect the universe of feed mills/industry for "Animal Proteins Prohibited from Use in Animal Feed". Discussion of working with FDA field offices.
Sat, Dec 23, 2000 COMTEX NewswireWorld Health Organization medical experts said Friday the global agency is concerned the mad cow disease and its fatal human variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease has spread worldwide through the movement of contaminated materials.
"We have concerns that there was sufficient international trade in meat and bone meal and cattle that there has actually been exposure worldwide already,"Dr. Maura Ricketts, of the WHO's animal and food-related public health risks unit, told reporters following an informal meeting of scientific and policy experts from international agencies.
The WHO estimates that between Nov. 1986 and Dec. 2000 about 180,000 animal cases of BSE were confirmed in the United Kingdom and about 1,300 in other European countries primarily France, Ireland, Portugal and Switzerland. Moreover, Germany and Spain reported their first cases in November of this year.
Moreover, since October 1986 to early December 2000, says the WHO, 87 cases of disease have been reported in the UK, three in France and a single case in Ireland. The fatal human variant is strongly linked with the exposure to the BSE agent "most plausibly due to dietary contamination by affected bovine central nervous system tissue," says the WHO.
Ricketts said the BSE epidemic appears to have been caused by the recycling of animal carcasses in meat and bone animal feed. "Meat and bone meal remain a big problem and this is how BSE is being transferred among cattle for the most part, " she said.
In cattle the disease is found primarily in the brain, the eyes, the spinal cord and parts of the digestive tract. According to another WHO expert, Dr. Francois Meslin, the United Kingdom between 1986 and 1996 spent about $7.5 billion to deal with the BSE outbreak which devastated its livestock industry.
The WHO and other related agencies tracking the fatal BSE, such as the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Animal Health Organization (OIE), said there is reason for concern because, "We are certain there was international movement of materials that could have contained infectivity."
"We have enough information that potentially contaminated materials were exported outside the European Community," added Ricketts, who went on to say that it is not possible to confirm which countries might be affected until the WHO and the other agencies have had a chance to gather information in each country individually.
The experts pointed out the way food and cattle feed moves across borders is not very transparent and needs to be studied as do slaughterhouses, and other processing facilities such as mechanical meat packing.
Ricketts stressed that some of the countries that received contaminated material do not have the surveillance systems to detect disease in cattle populations nor in human populations and "we feel they must find out for themselves and for us."
Some of the surveillance that needs to be in place to detect both the animal and human strains of the disease is exceptionally expensive for poor developing countries, the experts said.
Ricketts said it would be clearly to no one's benefit if even a small number of cases of BSE were present in a country that is developing trade in animal products and which then re-exported the disease to countries that have done a good job in controlling it.
Meslin observed that the tests made today are useful for the surveillance of the BSE disease but in terms of food safety they "might be giving consumers a false security." He noted that in some animals there might be negative blood tests but there might still be some infectious agents
Finally, the experts said more scientific information and investigation is also required to determine whether or not BSE has also infected other animals such as sheep and, in particular, pigs.
The BSE agent, notes the WHO, resists freezing, drying and heating at normal cooking temperatures. The agent is very difficult to destroy, said Rickets, who noted that in experiments it still had infectivity left after being exposed to temperatures of 600 degrees Centigrade
The WHO said it is scheduled to hold more specialists' meetings in January and will hold a major conference in late May to review scientific developments and to try and muster support for more countries to undertake risk assessment of every related area of the animal and food chain.
Fri, Dec 22, 2000 The Associated PressMeat and animal feed infected with mad cow disease may have been sold across the globe, raising the possibility of outbreaks beyond Europe, the World Health Organization said Friday.
Maura Ricketts, a physician and WHO specialist, said it was almost impossible to trace where suspect meat or feed might have gone since mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, was first identified in Britain in 1986. The disease is considered the likely cause of a new variant of the human brain-wasting ailment, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. So far, 87 cases of new variant CJD have been identified in Britain, three in France and one in Ireland.
Governments were slow to impose bans on the import of meat and bone meal and other potentially risky animal products, and the goods were exported for a long time after the disease was identified, she said.
"We may have to sensitize countries to the fact that they are at risk," she added. Britain has spent $7.5 billion on containing the disease. If the disease were discovered in a developing country, the economic effects could be even more disastrous, she said.
Sat, Dec 23, 2000 Reuters World Report By Erik KirschbaumGermany on Saturday rejected criticism from European Union Farm Commissioner Franz Fischler that it hampered efforts to address the spread of mad cow disease with confusing policies and lame excuses.
Fischler said in an interview with Die Welt newspaper that Germany had made the EU's work "not any easier by trying, as usual, to assign the blame elsewhere." Fischler added "there has been quite a bit of confusion" in Germany over the spread of mad cow disease, where panic has swept the country that until last month believed it was immune to the brain-wasting disease because of its quality controls.
Seven cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) have been confirmed in the meat- and sausage-loving country. BSE can lead to the equally fatal brain disease which infected beef can cause in humans -- new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.
The scent of a cover-up and a rapid spread of cases in cows have combined to alarm the public and send beef sales plunging. German leaders have criticised the EU, which has responded by pointing out that Germany long thwarted more aggressive anti-BSE steps because it believed its livestock was free of the disease.
The EU informed German officials three months ago about deficiencies it found in the preparations of animal-based feeds, according to a confidential EU report obtained by the newspaper. EU inspectors had found traces of the animal-based feeds that were banned since 1994 in three-fourths of 92 tests taken.
But no action was taken until after BSE was detected in Germany last
Martin Wille, deputy farm minister, dismissed Fischler's charges and said German government officials had worked quickly and efficiently to cooperate with the EU. He blamed the EU Commission for delaying follow-up information Germany requested.
"It is odd that the EU Commission, despite repeated queries, delayed releasing the report for many weeks and thus left German authorities in the dark," Wille said in a statement. "If there were mistakes made in Germany, they will be rigorously tracked down and there will be consequences."
The Netherlands and Belgium, meanwhile, took steps to warn consumers about the perils of German meat products for the time being -- an ironic twist for Germany after the country had itself long warned its citizens to shun British beef.
Belgium has ordered the withdrawal of all German beef and beef products from sale, Belgian radio RTBF reported. It said Belgian Health and Environment Minister Magda Aelvoet had also advised Belgian citizens to avoid all German beef products. Austria has taken similar steps.
Edmund Stoiber, state premier of Bavaria where most of Germany's infected cows have been found, said the EU should order the slaughter of all German cows younger than 30 months. "That would be expensive, but it is the only way we are going to win back the consumer confidence," he said after visiting a farm in the southern village of Passau.
The German Farm Federation said it wants to set up "round table" talks with scientists, political leaders and consumers to help restore shattered consumer confidence in beef.
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's government has admitted making mistakes. Health Minister Andrea Fischer said a warning about some types of sausage containing meat from backbones and other cattle parts seen as carrying a risk of disease transmission had lain ignored in her ministry for a week.
Jan. 1, 2001 Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung By Carl Graf HohenthalPressure is increasing on German Minister of Agriculture Karl-Heinz Funke to resign over the crisis surrounding bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in Germany.
After David Byrne, the European Union's commissioner for health and consumer affairs, charged that Mr. Funke's ministry had ignored warnings of BSE in Germany contained in an EU study presented in March, the general secretary of the opposition Christian Democratic Union, Laurenz Meyer, said that Mr. Funke and Health Minister Andrea Fischer were "completely out of their depth."
But Chancellor Gerhard Schröder defended Mr. Funke, a fellow Social Democrat, in an address delivered on New Year's Eve, saying placing blame and demanding resignations achieved nothing. Mr. Schröder has asked the president of the Federal Audit Office, Hedda von Wedel, to analyze weaknesses in handling the BSE crisis. When her report is received, he said, the federal and state governments would make the necessary organizational changes.
The German Agriculture Ministry rejected Mr. Byrne's accusations, saying it had not ignored any warnings about BSE, or "mad cow" disease. A ministry spokeswoman added that the study cited by the commissioner had merely rated the BSE risks in European states based on trade flows, and that BSE in Germany could not have been anticipated in the spring of 2000.
Mr. Byrne told the newspaper Welt am Sonntag that he could not understand how the German Agriculture Ministry made such an assessment.
In an interview with Spiegel Online posted on Dec. 30, Mr. Funke said that he should have called earlier for a total, Europe-wide ban on feeding meat and bonemeal to cattle. The minister is now suggesting introducing a list of permissible ingredients in animal feed.
Mr. Byrne said he supported such a proposal, but also said he had advocated such a list as long as a year ago. He added that if the safety standards set by the EU for meat production were followed strictly, he would be very surprised if there were still BSE in the EU in 10 years.
Mr. Funke tried to pass some of the blame on to the states by saying that in 1999 his ministry had demanded that the states increase the number of rapid BSE tests of cattle from 400 to about 6,000 a year, but the states had rejected this on grounds of cost. Instead, Mr. Funke continued, the states responded that Germany was BSE-free. Mr. Funke also called for tougher penalties for using banned methods in food production.
Meanwhile, more cases of sausage products with incorrect labels have been discovered throughout almost all of Germany. In Hesse, the social welfare minister, Marlies Mosiek-Urbahn, has responded by announcing wider safety checks.
Dec. 29, 2000 F.A.Z. MAGDEBURG.Responding to the outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), authorities in Saxony-Anhalt are setting up a genetic data bank for cattle, the state's minister of agriculture announced on Friday.
"We want to enable consumers, officials, farmers, dealers, slaughterhouses and the food industry to establish beyond doubt the origin of an animal or of a piece of meat at any time -- that is, during its lifetime or during the production phase," said Agriculture Minister Konrad Keller.
Admitting to shortcomings in cooperation between the federal government and the states, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder called in his New Year's address for improved feed monitoring. Mr. Schröder said he had instructed the president of the Federal Audit Office, Hedda von Wedel, to carry out "a systematic analysis of the weak spots at all political levels."
"Whether as politicians or as consumers, we were all perhaps too trusting," Mr. Schröder said.
At the state level, the government of Bavaria, where five of Germany's seven BSE cases to date were discovered, approved a package of measures to fight the disease. These include more stringent controls on feed, expanded facilities for BSE research, and the creation of a state agency for food safety.
Meanwhile, Gerd Sonnleitner, president of the German Farmers' Association, admitted that mistakes had been made in handling the BSE crisis. "I can't say I'm free of blame," Mr. Sonnleitner said, adding that he had relied too much on politicians.
Farmers have trusted the state to monitor compliance with laws, Mr. Sonnleitner said. He also criticized feed manufacturers, saying they had cheated and adulterated feed intended for calves and other animals, an accusation the German Association of Animal Feed Producers rejected.
Feed containing animal meal contaminated with BSE pathogens is thought to be the main means of transmission of "mad cow" disease.
German Agriculture Minister Karl-Heinz Funke, under increasing pressure in the wake of the crisis, defended himself on Friday from accusations of having ignored warnings about BSE in Germany last April.
"We didn't ignore a single fact nor fail to act," Mr. Funke said. A report in the forthcoming issue of the weekly magazine Focus claims that Mr. Funke had been expecting the BSE outbreak since April 13, when a meeting of experts, including officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, agreed that politicians should prepare the ground for the first case of BSE in a German cow.
Mr. Funke said, while the disease control agencies had prepared for the BSE outbreak, "it could not have been expected, because all the results of tests done on animals with behavioral anomalies were negative until then."
28 Dec 00 Jackson, Wyo. (AP)A program that supplements the winter diet of elk and bison with food pellets is on the verge of collapse, the manager of the National Elk Refuge said. An extensive federal study of the program will show problems with wildlife crowding, disease potential and unnatural food supply, among other things, manager Barry Reiswig said.
One major problem is that the program causes animals to crowd together, which can damage habitat and cause wildlife diseases to spread, he told federal land managers last week.
Brucellosis, a disease which can cause the animals to abort their fetuses, is a dwindling threat in Wyoming but it could be replaced by other diseases, such as tuberculosis and chronic wasting disease, he said.
Tuberculosis has been discovered at Montana game farms and among whitetail deer in Michigan, he said. Also, chronic wasting disease is spreading in deer in Wyoming as far west as Rawlins. Another problem is that the animals receive hay or alfalfa pellets instead of their natural food, he said.
Thirdly, as elk migrate to the refuge every winter, they face a firing line of hunters on the east side of Grand Teton
National Park. "We are encouraging hunters to engage in very poor ethical behavior, Reiswig said. And while hunting is intended to keep the elk herds from growing too large, the supplemental program feeds the elk so they will survive in winter, he said.
The supplemental program will collapse if state and federal officials do not work together to improve it, he said. The National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plan to study the program to write a plan for managing Jackson elk and bison.
Federal and state officials have been unable to agree on who should participate in writing the plan. Wyoming Game and Fish comissioners have said they are concerned that an end to the feeding program would send the animals onto private land, spreading disease to cattle and eating up haystacks.
If government cannot work out a compromise, the public will not be able to, Reiswig said. The public is split on elk feeding, with some people supporting the status quo and others saying the program is unnatural and should stop, he said.
The study was ordered by a judge after an animal rights group, the Fund for Animals, sued to stop the federal government from allowing bison hunting on the refuge. Federal wildlife managers had wanted to allow hunters to shoot bison to lower the chances of bison infecting cattle with brucellosis.
The three-year study, being launched this winter, will look at the feeding program and overall management of the 18,000 elk and 400 bison in the area. The state is required by law to reimburse landowners for property damage caused by wildlife, such as elk. The refuge was created in 1912 to keep elk away from private haystacks.
Fri, Dec 22, 2000 By James Lyons, Political Correspondent, PA NewsThe Government today stressed officials had acted in "good faith" over the BSE outbreak after French magistrates threatened manslaughter charges over deaths from the human form of mad cow disease.
The families of two victims of new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease have filed lawsuits against British and European officials. They have accused them of poisoning and manslaughter and say UK exports of suspect animal feeds were not halted quickly enough.
French prosecutors are understood to have dismissed poisoning charges but are examining the possibility of manslaughter charges.
The Ministry of Agriculture said it had not been informed about the French legal moves. But a spokesman said the lengthy Phillips inquiry into the British government's response to the BSE outbreak had cleared individuals of any blame. "As the Phillips report concluded, officials and former ministers acted in good faith," he said. [The Report was widely considered a whitewash directed from the get-go at absolving the British of international responsibility. -- webmaster]
The French lawsuits relate to the deaths of Laurence Duhamel, who died of nvCJD in February aged 36, and 19-year-old Arnaud Eboli, who is dying from the disease. Sources at the Paris prosecutor's office said the inquiry would examine whether anyone had "deliberately endangered people's lives".
December 24, 2000 Associated PressThe head of Germany's disease control agency has called for tests of the nation's sheep for variants of mad cow disease.
Reinhard Kurth, head of the Robert Koch Institute, said cattle and sheep had been exposed to the same animal feed that may have contained meat and bone meal, the Welt am Sonntag newspaper reported Sunday. Mad cow disease is believed to spread through such feed.
"There is absolutely no basis to assume that sheep are immune to this disease," Kurth was quoted as saying.
He said, however, that since 1963 Germany has only seen nine reported cases of sheep scrapie, an illness that is similar to mad cow disease. Experts believe the cattle disease, which appeared in the 1970s, may be a mutation of the sheep disease.
Mad cow disease has been linked to a human illness, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Researchers believe it is contracted by eating infected beef.
Germany recorded its first case of mad cow disease last month, and the number of infected cattle is growing. Other European countries have started pulling German beef products off shelves and banning imports.
Thu, Dec 28, 2000 Reuters World ReportGermany called for meat testing to be stepped up to include sheep as a health scare gripped the country on Thursday following the discovery of a sixth case of domestic mad cow disease.
Agriculture Minister Karl-Heinz Funke said he wants to widen BSE testing to include sheep and has called for a Europe-wide initiative to examine the possibility that sheep could be linked to mad cow disease.
"We need to expand tests on sheep. We have discussed this issue at a European level, because essentially it belongs at that level. We need a European solution to protect consumers," Funke told ARD television on Wednesday. "Scientists have recommended this and I think it's right," he said.
However, Funke pointed out that the European Union's current position was that there was no scientific proof of a link between sheep and BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy).
The state BSE testing agency in Tuebingen confirmed on Thursday that a cow from the southern Unterallgau region had been found with the illness to bring Germany's domestic tally to six -- five in Germany's agricultural heartland of Bavaria.
Germany is testing cattle for the disease at a nationwide level, but sheep are not so far included in the programme. The German government said earlier this month it was examining the health risks associated with lamb and mutton, amid fears that sheep scrapie is behind BSE and its fatal human form, new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (nvCJD).
Some scientists believe mad cow disease was transmitted to cattle through feed made from the carcasses of sheep infected with scrapie, a similar, fatal brain-wasting illness to BSE.
Thu, Dec 28, 2000 ReutersThe European Commission said on Thursday that no test was currently available to detect BSE in sheep, but it would consider extending tests to sheep if one did become available.
Germany called for meat testing to be stepped up to include sheep as a health scare gripped the country on Thursday following the discovery of more cases of domestic mad cow disease or BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy). Asked to comment on the German call, European Commission spokesman Luc Veron said the relationship between scrapie -- a disease found in sheep -- and "mad cow" disease or BSE had not been established.
"There is no test available on the market to distinguish between scrapie and BSE at the moment, but scientists are working on the question. They are monitoring the advances of research in that field," Veron said. If EU scientists said it was "appropriate to test, and if the tests are available, then we will consider (it)," he said. "One should not confuse what is desirable and what is possible. The test is simply not available," he said. [The spokesman is confused, or rather, is saying it is ok to eat scrapie sheep brain as long as it is "just" scrapie and not BSE. However, this is contrary to the UN health directive. -- webmaster]
He said, however, that the Commission, the European Union's executive body, was continuing its work on a contingency plan in the event that BSE was ever confirmed in sheep. "The member states should also prepare their national contingency plans in such an eventuality," he said.
German Agriculture Minister Karl-Heinz Funke wants to widen testing to include sheep and called for an EU plan to examine the possibility that sheep could be linked to mad cow disease.
Scrapie is a brain disorder related to BSE. BSE first broke out in British herds in 1986 and some scientists think it was caused by feeding cattle the carcasses of sheep which had died from scrapie. BSE's human form, new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, has caused dozens of deaths in Britain.
Germany long maintained it was free of BSE and each new case is a jolt to German eating habits. Seven domestic cases of BSE have now been found in Germany, still far from levels seen in Britain, where 180,000 cows have contracted BSE since 1986.
EU farm ministers agreed in November on a BSE testing program for cattle. They have also agreed to tighten controls on animal feed and exclude older cattle from the food chain.
December 24, 2000 Agence France-PresseJapan has decided to impose a total ban on beef imports from the European Union in a move to keep out mad cow disease, an agriculture ministry official said Monday.
"This is a large-scale measure," said Kazuo Ito of the ministry's farming hygiene division. "Like the measures taken within the European Union, the ban is based on the idea of prevention."
The ban was officially posted on Friday and will take effect on January 1. It will target beef and beef products produced in the 15 EU member countries as well as in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. It also prohibits the use of ingredients derived from EU cattle, sheep and goats in animal medical products and animal feed.
Also on the banned list are EU imports of cattle sperm and ova, which are used in farming for fertilization.
"It is designed to serve as an extremely precautionary measure," Ito told AFP, adding the agriculture ministry had yet to decide how long the ban would stay in place.
The EU countries account for 0.1 percent of Japan's annual beef imports, with the United States and Australia making up 95 percent. But Japan now joins a growing list of countries, most recently Iran, in suspending EU beef imports for fear of the disease formally called bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).
The World Health Organization on Friday warned other nations, notably developing ones, that the economic impact could be enormous if BSE entered their farming industries. Also on Friday a Paris court opened an investigation to determine whether British, French and EU officials should face charges for failing to take steps to contain BSE.
On December 13, Japan announced a total ban on animal feed made from EU meat and bone meal, and a ban on the use of medical ingredients derived from cattle from 29 nations. Experts say eating meat from BSE-infected cattle can lead to a fatal human form of the brain-wasting illness, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (nvCJD).
Japan's imports of beef from the EU, Switzerland and Liechtenstein was 740 metric tons from April to October, accounting for a small proportion of its total beef imports of 784,600 metric tons. "As beef imports from the EU make up such a small percentage of the total, the ban is unlikely to have any major impact on our country's meat supplies as a whole," the ministry official added.
Tue, Dec 26, 2000 AsiaPulse via COMTEXOffal, one of Australia's most neglected primary industries, is reaping benefits from the weak Australian dollar and recent trade reforms, said Meat Livestock Australia (MLA). In its most recent appraisal of the nation's offal and co-product industries, MLA found that the demand for products like sheep livers, tripe and cow hides is rising.
In line with the increased demand, prices are also on the move with cow hide prices doubling in the past 12 months. The MLA said the low dollar had helped increase the total co-product value, or the money gained from offal products, for a single cow by more than 10 per cent in the past five months and about 25 per cent on late 1999. Cow hide prices had gone up because of strong demand.
"Lower cattle kills in Australia, due to herd rebuilding and the wet weather, have created strong competition among buyers," the MLA said in its report. "There have also been lower cattle kills in many European countries due to fears of BSE (mad cow disease). As a result, hide prices are expected to remain high as Italian tanners try to maintain production."
The value of tripe has climbed as Australian producers are now getting their product into markets such as The Phillipines which have cut import restrictions. It has enabled Australian producers to take on Hong Kong and Malaysian producers who have traditionally dominated the large Filipino market.
An outbreak of foot and mouth disease in South America has boosted prices for Australian cattle tongue in Japan. Egypt and Mauritius increased their demand for Australian sheep livers, although sheep heart prices have fallen in the past two months despite solid sales.
Thu, Dec 28, 2000 Reuters World ReportThe Dutch government said on Thursday it had known for several years that imported German beef posed a BSE-related risk, but not enough to justify a ban.
"Germany acted in line with European rules. So we simply could not close our border to the meat. Brussels would not have allowed it," said Bas Kuik, a spokesman for the Dutch public health ministry. However France had decided unilaterally to stop the import of British beef following widespread BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy), mad cow disease, in Britain.
Until October of this year, European Union rules did not forbid countries from using what are now regarded as high risk animal material in the food chain, for instance as animal feed. The Netherlands, one of several countries where BSE infected cattle have been found, stopped using that material on a voluntary basis several years ago.
The Netherlands banned German beef after the first BSE cases in Germany were discovered in November. Meat produced before October was removed from supermarket shelves and destroyed.
To date, seven cases of BSE-intected cattle have been discovered in the Netherlands, although no cases of the human variant, Creutzfeldt-Jakob's disease have been diagnosed. In Germany seven suspected cases of BSE in cattle have been discovered.
Scientists believe that animals fed on high-risk slaughter materials such as bone marrow, spleen and brains, can be infected with BSE. Meat from cattle infected with BSE is a suspected trigger of new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans.
Fri, Dec 29, 2000 Reuters North AmericaThe Dutch government said Friday it had discovered its eighth case of mad cow disease at a farm in the eastern town of Punthorst.
It said it would inform the European Union and that the farm's remaining cows will be examined for the brain-wasting bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) disease, which is colloquially known as mad cow disease.
BSE has been linked to the fatal new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, which has killed more than 80 people in Britain and two in France since 1996. The most recent BSE case in the Netherlands was discovered on Nov. 17 this year amid a growing mad cow health scare crisis across Europe.
30 Dec 00 APThe agriculture ministry investigated a new case of mad cow disease Saturday, but denied Germany's claims that several of its cases were caused by contaminated cattle feed imported from the Netherlands.
Following the recall of German beef products from Dutch supermarkets last weekend, Dutch press reports quoted the German agriculture minister blaming poorly treated milk substitutes in Dutch feed.
"It's nonsense," said Gerard Westerhof, spokesman for the Dutch agriculture ministry. He said the allegations by Karl-Heinz Funke could not be true because mad cow disease is found in animal proteins not present in the Dutch products. [The spokesperson is naive to believe English pronoucements about BSE being confined to spinal cord and brain -- these were selected so more valuable parts of the cow could still be sold. -- webmaster]
Westerhof noted that Germany only in October began banning brains and other cattle parts with a high risk of carrying the disease from consumer products. The Netherlands instituted such a ban in 1997.
Funke has come under fire from German media and European Union officials for doing too little, too late, to counter the spread of mad cow disease -- formally known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE.
The Netherlands is one of a number of countries that have banned beef products from Germany since it joined the list of European countries hit by the disease last month. Germany's sixth and seventh cases of BSE were discovered this week in Bavaria and Lower Saxony.
On Friday, a farmer discovered the Netherlands' eighth case in a 6-year-old cow on his farm in Punthorst, near the German border. As a precaution, inspectors Saturday destroyed the farmer's remaining 48 head of cattle while beginning tests to see if the BSE had spread to other animals.
Earlier this week, Dutch cattle feed producers sent German agriculture authorities a letter complaining that the allegations were unfounded.
"They haven't learned their lesson yet," Gerard Doornbos of the LTO farmers' association told the national daily Trouw. "A country has to start by looking at its own situation. The Netherlands is three years ahead of Germany."
There have been no cases in the Netherlands of the variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease -- a human form of mad cow disease that is believed to be contracted by eating infected beef. The brain-wasting condition has killed more than 80 people, most of them in Britain.
Thu, Dec 28, 2000 (AP WorldSources OnlineThe Thai Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday announced a ban on beef >from eight European countries whose cattle stocks carry a high risk of being infected with mad cow disease.
Beef products from Portugal, France, Ireland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and the United Kingdom will not be permitted to enter Thailand, said Dr. Chokechai Chokewiwat, the FDA secretary-general Chokechai said the ban is necessary in the interests of protecting public health.
Mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), an incurable brain-wasting disease which it is feared can be transmitted to humans through the food chain, has become a serious health issue in many European countries.
Dairy and gelatine products certified safe by a government agency or officially approved institution will be unaffected by the ban.
The FDA has already informed beef importers of the risk to consumers and ordered them to stop importing the meat, the secretary-general said. The order cannot take effect until it is signed by the Public Health Minister, however. Chokechai said he would submit the order to the minister as soon as possible.
This is the second time the FDA has slapped a ban on imported meat for fear of spreading BSE. The first, in 1996, was on meat obtained from the UK after clear evidence emerged that cattle slaughtered for human consumption had tested positive for the disease. The epidemic is believed to have been caused by animal matter contained in the feed given to cattle, Chokechai said.
29 Dec 00 Associated PressAfter centuries of inner-Germanic rivalry, Austrians have a new beef with their larger neighbor to the north.
Last week, Austria banned imports of German beef and cattle following an outbreak of mad cow disease. To make sure that no German steaks, roasts, or veal chops are smuggled into the country, Austrian customs authorities are bullishly inspecting vehicles that might contain the banned products.
Since the ban went into effect Dec. 20, more than 700 kilograms (about 1,500 pounds) of illegal German beef and meat products have been seized, much of it during surprise inspections at highway rest areas, truck stops and other areas, Austrian officials say.
On Thursday, border inspectors nabbed a German truck driver who had smuggled 18 kilograms (40 pounds) of beef products into the western Austrian province of Tryol. He was fined and sent packing back to Bavaria, the Austria Press Agency reported.
Another driver was fined after 18 kilograms (40 pounds) of veal liverwurst and processed meats were discovered in his truck during a surprise search Thursday at a highway rest area just inside the border from Germany.
Smugglers face fines of up to 60,000 schillings (nearly $4,000). Authorities nabbed another trucker trying to bring 190 kilograms (420 pounds) of sausage and processed meats from a wholesaler in Friedrichshafen, Germany and bound for a Turkish-run grocery in the country's westernmost province of Voralberg. He was fined and escorted back to the border.
Austrians, a people who frequently grumble that they are considered a lesser species by their linguistic kinsmen, are especially proud and protective of their agricultural industry.
All cattle in Austria must be registered in a national databank. All packaged meat sold in Austrian stores must include labels stating the name of the farm where the animal was and the name of the slaughterhouse where it met its end.
In 1990, Austria banned imports of British beef and cattle after the bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, was first detected in cows there. Scientists believe BSE causes a new variant of a human brain-wasting ailment, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.
Despite the precautions, the mad cow scare has severely affected beef sales in this meat-mad country, where connoisseurs insist the best Wiener Schnitzel must be prepared from veal. According to the Agrarmarkt Austria, which handles agricultural products in the country, beef consumption here was down drastically over the Christmas holidays.
"First estimates are that there is a drop in beef consumption up to 20 percent," said Oskar Wawschinek, spokesman for the group told APA. For the first week of December, beef consumption was down 20-25 percent below the seasonal norms.
Austria will start testing cattle for BSE as of Jan. 1, the health and agriculture ministries said Thursday. Since 1988, Austria has tested cattle several times for the disease and so far found no traces of it. In 1990, Austria banned cattle feed fortified with meat and bone meal.
12/26/2000 Transcript of ABC Nightline News Opinion piece by Robert Lederman "Why Is ABC lying about mad cow disease? See FDA web site"On 12/26/2000 ABCTV's news show Nightline did a lengthy piece on mad cow disease. In the report they went to great pains to claim that US cattle are not fed animal parts, bone meal etc. which is officially considered the likeliest source of the disease. They were well aware this statement was false -- see the cover story below from US News and World Report or the new FDA feed ban of 6 Dec 00. Once you read the quotes below about what US cattle are really being fed you'll never look at a steak the same way again.
You may recall that ABC investigative reporter John Stossel was reprimanded recently and forced to publicly apologize for a report he did that used false data to "prove" that organic food was no safer or more nutritious than foods repeatedly sprayed with pesticides. [This was indeed a bizarre infomercial -- indeed there is E.coli on vegatables, organic or otherwize, if you spray them with liquid cattle manure. -- webmaster]
Once again ABCTV is up to its old tricks, creating a seemingly well-documented news piece that is in reality nothing more than a vehicle for corporate disinformation. Here's Nightline's summation of the mad cow story excerpted from their transcript. Note the claim about cattle feed then compare it to the US News and World Report excerpt and other related news clips below about what is really being fed to US cattle. Most European nations and Japan prohibit all imports of US beef, dairy and many other food-related products based on public health concerns.
... Perhaps the most ironic aspect of the Nightline piece was that it repeatedly criticized British and European leaders for deceiving their constituents about the problem in order to protect their food industries. We know that could never happen here in the US-right? Nightline's mad cow story was just the latest effort by the corporate media to protect the interests of this nation's incredibly corrupt food industry-America's largest recipient of corporate welfare.
NIGHTLINE: "MICHEL MARTIN Joining us now, Nightline correspondent Dave Marash. David, Americans do import some beef, so why isn™t this a problem here?
DAVE MARASH: "Well, the real answer is, Michel, that meat and bone meal, the cattle feed used in the United Kingdom and much of Europe and the rest of the world, which is the likeliest cause of mad cow disease, is not used as cattle feed here. As a result, we have never had a home-grown case of mad cow disease. There have been a couple of cases of animals imported from overseas that turned out to be infected principally sheep. They™ve been quarantined. And as yet, as I say, no American cases of mad cow disease."
Opinion (webmaster): The leaky import ban would appear to be documented on the FDA web site. The USDA withdrew its unsupported claim that the Vermont sheep had BSE, replacing it with "extoic TSE" even though all sheep remain healthy to date with no indication of any TSE.
Sept. 1, 1997 US NEWS & WORLD REPORT"Cattle feed now contains things like manure and dead catsœTo trim costs, many farmers add a variety of waste substances to their livestock and poultry feed--and no one is making sure they are doing so safely.
Chicken manure in particular, which costs from $15 to $45 a ton in comparison with up to $125 a ton for alfalfa, is increasingly used as feed by cattle farmers despite possible health risks to consumers. In regions with large poultry operations, such as California, the South, and the mid-Atlantic, more and more farmers are turning to chicken manure as a cheaper alternative to grains and hay...
Health officials are not as enthusiastic. Chicken manure often contains campylobacter and salmonella bacteria, which can cause disease in humans, as well as intestinal parasites, veterinary drug residues, and toxic heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury. These bacteria and toxins are passed on to the cattle and can be cycled to humans who eat beef contaminated by feces during slaughter.
A scientific paper scheduled for publication this fall in the journal Preventive Medicine points to the potential dangers of recycling chicken waste to cattle. "Feeding manure that has not been properly processed is supercharging the cattle feces with pathogens likely to cause disease in consumers," says Dr. Neal Barnard, head of the Washington, D.C. based health lobby Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, an author of the article...
In addition, some 40 billion pounds a year of slaughterhouse wastes like blood, bone, and viscera, as well as the remains of millions of euthanized cats and dogs passed along by veterinarians and animal shelters, are rendered annually into livestock feed--in the process turning cattle and hogs, which are natural herbivores, into unwitting carnivores...
Animal-feed manufacturers and farmers also have begun using or trying out dehydrated food garbage, fats emptied from restaurant fryers and grease traps, cement-kiln dust, even newsprint and cardboard that are derived from plant cellulose. Researchers in addition have experimented with cattle and hog manure, and human sewage sludge."
Public Health and Farming Groups Demand FDA Action To Protect Humans and Animals from Fatal Disease in U.S. "Washington, D.C.-- Public health advocates are demanding that the Food and Drug Administration close loopholes in animal feed regulations to prevent the spread of U.S. mad cow-type diseases -- now at epidemic levels in Western deer and elk -- that might infect people who eat meat. In a letter sent today to the FDA, the Center for Food Safety (CFS), the Humane Farming Association and families of U.S. victims of the human version of mad cow disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), are demanding new efforts to protect public health and food safety.
The FDA was asked to respond to a legal petition filed in January 1999 that would change U.S. animal feed regulations to prevent the spread of U.S. mad cow-type diseases already occurring in deer, elk, sheep and humans, and suspected in pigs and cattle. Under current FDA regulations, animals known to be infected with mad cow-type disease such as deer, elk and sheep, can be legally fed to pigs, chickens and pets, which in turn can be rendered and fed to cows.
Billions of pounds of slaughterhouse waste in the form of rendered animal by-products are fed to U.S. livestock every year as fat and protein supplements, despite this practice being the known route of transmission of British mad cow disease.
A fatal "mad deer" disease called chronic wasting disease is occurring at epidemic levels in deer and elk in Western states and on game farms, CFS legal director Joseph Mendelson wrote in the letter to the FDA. This may already be claiming human lives as is suggested by the alarming appearance of unusually young victims ofCJD."