Document Directory

15 Mar 01 - CJD - Abbott, Enfer in pact to sell Mad Cow test for dead cattle
15 Mar 01 - CJD - Nigeria bans livestock importation from EU countries
15 Mar 01 - CJD - Donations of blood to be refused here over CJD fear
15 Mar 01 - CJD - Mad Cow Disease: are U.S. Industries Prepared?
15 Mar 01 - CJD - Top US beef packers can meet McDonald's BSE deadline
15 Mar 01 - CJD - Disease Wreaking Havoc on World Farm Trade
15 Mar 01 - CJD - Devro burnt by BSE and cautions on foot-and-mouth
15 Mar 01 - CJD - BSE still biggest food safety worry, says report
15 Mar 01 - CJD - USDA Expands Euro Beef Ban
15 Mar 01 - CJD - Abbott Labs Agreement With Enfer Scientific for Mad Cow Disease (BSE) Tests
14 Mar 01 - CJD - Nation takes major preventive measures as virus hits Britain
14 Mar 01 - CJD - Stymied by Mad Cow Disease, McDonald's Warns on First-Quarter Profits
14 Mar 01 - CJD - Ethiopia Bans EU Meat Over Mad Cow Fears
14 Mar 01 - CJD - BSE diagnostic tests in Latvia will cost more than in Germany
14 Mar 01 - CJD - Devro says BSE, foot-and-mouth to have 'considerable' short-term effect
14 Mar 01 - CJD - Inquiry into sixth suspected Italian BSE case
14 Mar 01 - CJD - Sausage skin firm sees share price tumble
14 Mar 01 - CJD - Desperation Stalks Rural Britain on Foot-And-Mouth
14 Mar 01 - CJD - McDonald's cuts first-quarter earnings outlook
14 Mar 01 - CJD - Scientist Champions Foot-And-Mouth Vaccination
14 Mar 01 - CJD - Asia To Remain A Mad Cow Disease-Free Area - Industry
14 Mar 01 - CJD - Iowa experts discuss Mad Cow disease
14 Mar 01 - CJD - Mad Cow scare averted
14 Mar 01 - CJD - As Mad Cow Panic Hits Eateries...Italians Are Sampling Kangaroo
14 Mar 01 - CJD - 'Mad Cow' cargo out tomorrow
13 Mar 01 - CJD - Food industry association warns against the spectre of BSE
13 Mar 01 - CJD - McDonald's moves to enforce Mad Cow standards
13 Mar 01 - CJD - US bans all animal imports from EU
13 Mar 01 - CJD - Banned spinal cord in imports
13 Mar 01 - CJD - McDonald's to Enforce Mad Cow Standards
13 Mar 01 - CJD - US bans EU animal imports due to foot-and-mouth
12 Mar 01 - CJD - Spain earmarks new BSE funds, finds new cases
12 Mar 01 - CJD - Australia/NZ guard against BSE with tighter feed rules
12 Mar 01 - CJD - Breach of BSE controls in imported Spanish beef



15 Mar 01 - CJD - Abbott, Enfer in pact to sell Mad Cow test for dead cattle

Reuters

YAHOO--Thursday 15 March 2001


ABBOTT PARK, Ill., March 15 (Reuters) - Healthcare products company Abbott Laboratories Inc. (NYSE:ABT - news) on Thursday said it entered into an agreement with Enfer Scientific Ltd. of Ireland to sell two diagnostic tests used to detect Mad Cow disease in dead cattle.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The tests, manufactured by animal diagnostics company Enfer Scientific, will be marketed by Abbott under the Enfer name.

They are used to detect the presence of the abnormal prion protein associated with Mad Cow disease, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), the transmissible, neuro-degenerative brain disease of cattle.

The first is a 4-hour enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay test, approved by the European Commission. The second test is a supplemental diagnostic test used to confirm positive results. Both are conducted on brain tissue and spinal cord samples from dead cattle.

There currently is no test on the market that can detect the disease in live animals.

The prevailing theory is that the disease crossed the species barrier from cows to humans, and that people may catch the disease from eating beef that contains prion proteins.

The human version is known as new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) to distinguish it from a form of CJD that occurs naturally in about one in a million people.

More than 80 people have died of vCJD in Britain and three in France in recent years.


15 Mar 01 - CJD - Nigeria bans livestock importation from EU countries

By Olukayode Oyeleye, Nkechi Nwosu, Lagos and Tony Eluemunor

Nigerian Guardian--Thursday 15 March 2001


To protect Nigerian livestock from the Mad Cow Disease and Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) which have been afflicting European cattle and pig herds recently, the Federal Executive Council decided at its yesterday's meeting to place an immediate ban on the importation of livestock and their by-products from Europe.

Addressing State House reporters after the meeting yesterday, the Minister of State for Agriculture, Chris Agbobu, said the government took the decision to protect Nigerian herds. To "allay any fears", Agbobu said, "they are not here. They have never been here. I can say this categorically". The agriculture ministry has also begun a mass immunisation of cattle in Nigeria to "boost their immunity" and the quarantine teams at the border posts have been ordered to enforce the ban.

According to Agbobu, studies have shown that the virulent Serotype C of the Foot-and-Mouth disease does not exist in Nigeria. For the avoidance of doubt, he added, though serotypes O and A of FMD exists in Nigeria, they are the regular non-virulent types.

FMD and Mad Cow Disease are significant as they are known to spread across borders. Mad Cow disease is especially more significant for its known transmissibility from animals to man.

The foot-and-mouth illness broke out in Britain three weeks ago and by yesterday, had spread across over 200 farms and abattoirs.

At least 160,000 animals have been earmarked for slaughter.

The outbreak has cost the tourism industry millions of pounds sterling and the farmers and meat dealers about eight million pounds per week in banned exports.

Britain has resorted to quarantine and slaughter policy which the Agriculture Minister Nick Broom said was the best option for now.

People have been barred from countryside while animal funeral pyres have been burnt. Sports fixtures have also been called off in Britain.

It has little or no effect on humans, while the Mad Cow (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) brain-wasting illness which scare led many countries, including Nigeria, United States to ban animal meal imports as well as blood donors from Britain.

Britain confirmed cases put at 214 yesterday by the chief veterinary officer, Jim Scudanore. The disease has spread to central England from South West Devor and the Scottish border.

The foot-and-mouth disease has spread to France and many other countries including U.S. have banned food imports from Britain.

Northern Ireland has confirmed an outbreak of the disease.

To stop the epidemic from spreading to its territory, Ireland has put on alert over 1,000 soldiers and police to monitor roads and vehicles.

Australian airport officials wash visitors feet on arrival with disinfectant; (Germany and other nations have also adopted measures to ward off the epidemic.

The foot-and-mouth disease is considered a major threat to the Tony Blair administration as it comes ahead of an expected May election date and could seriously affect the economy, analysts said.

The disease is easily carried on clothings, vehicle tyres and, by wind, reports said.

In Britain, vehicles are being sprayed with disinfectant and short guns have been withdrawn from farmer thought to be on the brink of suicide.

FMD was recorded to have cost UK an estimated 150m pound sterling in slaughter cost and lost sales in 1967 and 1968. The most recent outbreak in Britain was in 1981 on the Isle of Wight when 200 cattle and 369 pigs were destroyed. FMD is endemic in many parts of the world, including Africa, the Middle East, Asia and South America. It was thought to have been virtually eradicated in Europe where until now, the most recent outbreak was in Greece last year.

FMD is a viral infection of hoofed animals (domestic and wild) such as sheep, cow, pig, warthog, and wild beast. It is transmitted through even dust particles in the air, and can prove fatal in pigs, cattle, sheep and goats. In mild, non-fatal cases, the infection can be limited to blistering lesions in the mouth and between hooves, causing lameness, increased salivation and loss of appetite. Affected animals rapidly lose weight and produce less milk.

Vets in the UK believe the best way of stopping the spread of FMD is to destroy any infected herd, incinerate the carcasses and isolate all affected farms inside a five-mile radius exclusion zone.

Mad Cow Disease, otherwise known as Bovine Spongifrom Encephalopathy (BSE), is a progressive nervous disorder of cattle which results from infection by an unconventional transmissible agent. As at September 1997, more than 168,000 cases of BSE were confirmed in Great Britain in more than 34,000 herds. The epidemic peaked in January 1993 at almost 1,000 per week. The outbreak has resulted from the feeding of srapie-containing sheep meat-and-bone meal to cattle.

Currently, the most accepted theory is that the agent is a modified form of a normal cell surface component, a pathogenic component, known as prion protein that is both less soluble and more resistant to enzyme degradation than the normal form. There is a strong epidemiologic and laboratory evidence for a causal association between new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and BSE.

Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC) of the United Kingdom on March 26, 1996, indicated that BSE might have been a food-borne hazard in the United Kingdom. It is this possible hazard that SEAC indicated might account for the 10 new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) cases in the United Kingdom described on April 6, 1996 in the medical literature (Lancet 1996: 347: 921-5).

In contrast to the classic form of CJD, the new variant from the United Kingdom affects younger persons (medium age at onset: 28 years), has atypical features, with prominent psychiatric or sensory symptoms at the time of clinical presentation, with delayed onset of neurologic abnormalities, including ataxia within six weeks or months, dementia and myoclonus late in the illness, a duration of illness of at least six months, and a diffusely abnormal non-diagnostic electroencephalogram.


15 Mar 01 - CJD - Donations of blood to be refused here over CJD fear

By Padraig O'Morain, Health and Children Correspondent

Irish Times--Thursday 15 March 2001


In a move which could force the postponement of surgery in some hospitals, the Irish Blood Transfusion Service is to refuse to take blood from about 12,000 donors who lived in the United Kingdom when BSE was at its height.

Announcing the move yesterday, the IBTS medical director, Dr William Murphy, said "massive public support" would be needed to make up the shortfall.

Already in the past year some hospitals have postponed operations because they could not get enough blood.

The new policy will remove 12 per cent of donors, who give 20,000 donations a year.

It has been adopted to minimise any possible risk of transmitting variant CJD - a fatal brain disease which may be linked to BSE in animals - by blood transfusion.

From March 31st, blood will not be taken from people who lived in the UK for five years or more between January 1st, 1980, and December 31st, 1996.

From September, donations will be refused from people who have lived in the UK for one year or more during the period.

Dr Murphy said the new rules applied both to people who spent a continuous period in the UK over the five-year or one-year limit and to those who visited for shorter periods which added up to five years or one year.

He said that by the UK, the board meant Northern Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

The five-month gap before the more severe one-year ban is implemented is meant to allow the IBTS time to run a campaign for new donors.

This will include letters to 160,000 previous donors, new donation centres in Cork, Dublin, Galway and Limerick, and new mobile collection teams in the west, north-east and north midlands.

Hospitals are being asked to manage surgery in ways which minimise the amount of blood transfusions needed.

To date, 95 cases of variant CJD have been recorded in the UK and one in Ireland in a woman who had lived in the UK during the period in question. These cases have been linked to eating infected bovine meat products during the period.

IBTS chief executive officer Mr Martin Hynes said the Minister for Health and Children, Mr Martin, had agreed to establish a national blood strategy implementation group to promote the implementation of good policies and practice guidelines.

The new body will represent health boards, hospitals, the Department of Health and Children and the IBTS.

He said he wanted to thank people who had donated blood in the past but who could no longer do so because of the new rules.

Further information is being posted on the IBTS website at http://www.ibts.ie

pomorain@irish-times.ie


15 Mar 01 - CJD - Mad Cow Disease: are U.S. Industries Prepared?

By Martha Snyder Taggart

Food Distributors International--Thursday 15 March 2001


Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), a.k.a. "Mad Cow disease," has become embedded in the public consciousness. In England, 83 human deaths have been attributed to the disease in the last five to six years. Now the scare continues with the crisis in Europe.

Can the same thing happen here? On a large scale, it is extremely unlikely, according to experts, who cite inherent differences between the U.S. and Europe in cattle feeding, rendering and slaughter. Numerous safeguards have been put in place to protect against an epidemic.

However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has an emergency plan in place to respond to even a single incident. To avert a potential crisis, USDA has also commissioned the trouble-shooting prowess of the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis.

Food distributors would do well to prepare for the possibility that Mad Cow disease may indeed cross the Atlantic, even if only from a public relations standpoint. The ensuing panic could have great market impact, and experts are advising on ways to handle it.

"The Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are being very careful to protect our food supply," FDI President & CEO John R. Block said. "That's important, because just a hint of a problem could cause unnecessary and unfounded panic," said Block, a former Reagan USDA secretary.

The Disease

BSE was first identified in English cattle during the 1970s. It belongs to a category of diseases known as "transmissible spongiform encephalopathies" (TSEs), which wreak havoc with the central nervous system by causing damage to nervous tissue. Brain tissue, which is constantly being regenerated, becomes malformed and collects in plaque-like deposits. As the disease progresses, atrophy occurs, and literally holes appear, lending the brain a "spongy" appearance. Hence, the name.

Unlike most transmissible diseases, which are caused by viral or bacterial strains, TSEs are transmitted through infected prions, or protein particles prevalent in brain and spinal cord tissue.

Once gaining entry, these misshapen prions replicate in healthy host tissue. They are impervious to standard precautions taken against food-borne illness, such as heat, radiation, immunization, and antisepsis, and also seem "below the radar" of host defenses.

With a prolonged incubation period estimated to average five years in animals, and 10 years or longer in humans, the resulting disease is difficult to diagnose and, so far, invariably fatal.

The mad-cow crisis was confined to veterinary and trade circles until roughly five years ago, when it first became apparent that BSE had jumped the species barrier and was capable of infecting humans. Human consumption of infected animal parts is linked to a variation of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), a rare and fatal brain disorder characterized by dementia, hallucinations, and loss of motor control.

The first human mad-cow victim to be diagnosed as such was an 18-year-old Englishman, Stephen Churchill, who died in 1995. Since then 83 persons in Britain have died from the CJD-variant (vCJD), and there have been additional reports from France and Ireland, totaling 92 cases.

Probable Origins in Animal Feed

All cud-chewing animals ("ruminants") such as cattle, sheep, goats, and deer, which are natural herbivores, are vulnerable to BSE infection. In fact, scientists now believe that it is cross-contamination with scrappie, another TSE and a veterinary malady that has afflicted sheep herds for hundreds of years, that gave rise to BSE. During the rendering process, particles or prions from the brains and spinal cords of infected sheep may have found their way into ground-up protein meal sold as an additive for cattle feed.

As little as a gram of the infected material, when ingested, can transmit the disease, according to sources.

"Sheep and lamb have been infected [with scrappie] for over 200 years," Mary Jo Schmerr, a researcher with the USDA's National Animal Disease Center in Ames, IA, told Food Distributor. "The reason why this whole thing got out of hand is that scientists thought BSE would be like sheep scrappie, which has never been shown to jump to the human species.

TSEs, in general, "were thought of as some weird thing out there. People weren't really interested in those diseases. It wouldn't even be an issue now if it hadn't jumped to humans," she added.

England banned the domestic use of feed products containing ruminants in 1994, but continued to export them for another six years, primarily to Asia, eastern Europe, Africa, and, yes, the United States.

Fortunately the United States is unique in that here, unlike in Europe and other parts of the world, ground meal is not a popular cattle feed additive.

"It's added for protein, and as a product, it is more expensive than adding soybeans," explained David Ropeik, director of risk communication at the Harvard Center, whose study for USDA is due within months. "We have plenty of soybeans," he added, "so the plain old capitalistic marketplace has tended to keep most of this stuff out."

Since August 1997, U.S. law has prohibited use of rendered parts from other ruminants in sheep and cattle feed, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which issued the regulations. Specifically, companies are required to develop systems to prevent co-mingling of ruminant products with other rendered material (e.g., chicken, fish, and pork parts). All feed containing rendered ruminant parts must carry labels saying, "Do not feed to ruminants." In addition, companies are required to keep records of where such products originate and where they are sold.

Compliance with this prohibition has yet to become universal, however. In January, the FDA disclosed that approximately 20-25 percent of surveyed U.S. companies (both renderers and food mills) still had no system for separating ruminant parts and also were failing to properly label feed containing ruminant parts. Problems with record-keeping were also seen, but to a much lesser extent.

The situation has caused alarm among beef producers. On January 19, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (the leading trade group that represents beef producers) convened a private meeting in Washington, DC, to discuss the problem with government agencies. The group has also created a Web site devoted to the issue, reached at www.bseinfo.org.

The primary federal agencies involved in preventing or handling mad-cow disease in the United States include the FDA, which has purview over feed additives and processed foods, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which supervises the growing, slaughtering, inspecting and packaging of meat. In addition, the National Institutes of Health and its Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been brought in to monitor human health risks.

Real vs. Perceived Risks

Like all risks, this one must be put into perspective. There have been bans on importation of live ruminants from countries with mad-cow disease since 1989. Since 1990, the USDA, through its own agents and licensed inspectors has exercised active surveillance and has euthanized all cattle exhibiting neurological symptoms, tracking them in feedlots and at the slaughterhouse door.

In 1993, surveillance was expanded to include "downer" cows. Altogether, a total of nearly 12,000 cattle brains have been shipped to special laboratories for microscopic examination and immunohistochemical testing (the standard for diagnosis since 1994). Not a single U.S. case of BSE has been found.

In humans, while there are approximately 275 deaths each year from naturally-occurring cases of CJD, not a single case of vCJD, the type linked with mad-cow disease, has been reported in the United States. In real numbers, even among individuals exposed to diseased meat, the risk of transmission appears to be very small.

Other food-borne pathogens found in meat products, such as E. coli and salmonella, pose risks that are "multiple orders of magnitude greater, even in Europe today, than Mad Cow disease," commented Harvard's Ropeik.

In England, Ireland, and France Mad Cow disease has claimed 92 lives out of a total of approximately 129 million, and these deaths have occurred over 14 years. "By any standard, that's a low number," Dr. Ropeik told Food Distributor, adding, "it's a tragic number, and it could grow."

Perhaps more important, as risk management experts are quick to point out, the mere perception of risk can sometimes be as damaging as the reality, in terms of impact. Reports from Germany, Spain, and Italy indicate that there has been a 30 percent to 50 percent decline in beef consumption as quickly as a week following the discovery of one or two diseased cattle.

The response of the European Union has been to develop a risk containment plan which entails disposal of protein meal containing ruminant parts, widespread testing for BSE, and (as of July 2001), slaughter of cattle older than 30 months. That plan will cost an estimated $5.6 billion annually, according to Goldman Sachs. That expense is being incurred on the basis just a handful of human deaths since late last year.

Handling The Crisis

"Fear is based on more than just the numbers," Harvard's Ropeik advised. "A mistrust of government, of industry, or of the particular nature of this kind of risk," is a contributor.

People "don't like risks that are scientific and invisible and hard to understand," he added. Or, in the words of George Gray, PhD, director of Programs on Food Safety and Agriculture, who is heading the USDA study, "This [one] pushes all the buttons."

In Germany, part of the public outcry and pandemonium over mad-cow disease may in part be attributed to the fact that certain government officials "made [stupid] promises," Ropeik added. Not long before the outbreak, the country's former agricultural minister provided false reassurances that BSE "won't happen here."

"A government that comes clean, on its own, that says 'we have to do more to identify these loopholes and close them'... is saying, 'trust us,' in real ways," he emphasized in a telephone interview. "In the long run, that doesn't mean we'll be unafraid, but it may mean that we're either a little less afraid or more quickly can get past the first hysterical reaction."

"Unlike in Germany, U.S. government officials responsible for attending to food safety and health concerns have made the right decisions for American consumers on this issue, and they should be commended for their vigilance," FDI's Block said.

In addition, private industry has a role to play. Along with producers' efforts to protect the feed supply, slaughterhouses have responded, and have replaced their former pneumatic slaughter techniques with new methods that minimize the risk of brain and brain matter being propelled into the carcass.

"FDI members have always been attentive to food safety issues," Block said. "That's why our trade association was founded in 1906, and we will keep them informed about developments in the industry that affect them and the customers they serve."

More can be done, everyone agrees. If, and when, Mad Cow reaches our shores, the coordination of all parties will be necessary.

Martha Snyder Taggart is an independent writer specializing in health medicine, based in Arlington, VA.


15 Mar 01 - CJD - Top US beef packers can meet McDonald's BSE deadline

By Bob Burgdorfer

YAHOO--Thursday 15 March 2001


CHICAGO, March 15 (Reuters) - The top U.S. beef packers said on Thursday they will meet an April 1 deadline from McDonald's Corp. (NYSE:MCD - news) that the beef the fast-food giant buys is from cattle fed in accordance with federal rules designed to keep out Mad Cow disease.

``After April 1, we will not purchase cattle from a producer without certification,'' said Gary Mickelson, spokesman for IBP Inc., a leading producer of fresh beef and pork.

McDonald's, one of the largest buyers of beef worldwide, told its beef suppliers this week that beginning April 1 they must provide documentation that the cattle they buy meet U.S. Food and Drug Administration standards for feed.

``We wanted to help build extra firewalls around the food supply chain in the U.S.'' said Walt Riker, a McDonald's spokesman.

IBP (NYSE:IBP - news), ConAgra Foods Inc.(NYSE:CAG - news), and Excel Corp. all said they could comply with McDonald's April 1 deadline.

The three companies produce nearly two-thirds of the nation's beef, according to Steve Kay, editor of Cattle Buyers Weekly, a marketing and business newsletter for the meat industry.

Mad Cow is the common name for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), a brain-wasting disease that has attacked cattle in Europe. It has not been found in the United States, but recent occurrences in Europe and the accidental feeding in January of meat and bone meal to cattle at a Texas feedlot have U.S. companies reinforcing existing federal safeguards.

It is believed the disease is spread by animals eating infected tissue from other animals, such as in meat and bone meal. Since 1997, the FDA has banned the feeding of meat and bone meal to ruminant animals, such as cattle.

The concern for humans is scientists suspect that eating beef from BSE-infected cattle could cause a fatal brain disease.

McDonald's has reported that the disease in Europe hurt restaurant sales there in the fourth quarter last year. On Wednesday, it issued a profits warning for investors, citing continued poor European consumer demand due to food scares.

On March 1, IBP, which has 11 U.S. beef plants, began asking suppliers to provide written verification their cattle have not been fed prohibited proteins, said Mickelson.

ConAgra Foods, which has six U.S. beef plants, has been requiring written verification since January.

``We will be able to comply with that April 1 deadline,'' said Karen Savinski, spokeswoman for ConAgra Foods Inc.

Excel Corp., a unit of agriculture conglomerate Cargill Inc., also said it will meet the April 1 deadline. The company has five U.S. beef plants.


15 Mar 01 - CJD - Disease Wreaking Havoc on World Farm Trade

By Greg McCune

YAHOO--Thursday 15 March 2001


CHICAGO (Reuters) - Like a modern day pox on all their households, the scourge of animal disease is wreaking havoc on agricultural trade and could have a long-term effect on the market and the farming industry, experts said.

First it was the spread of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or Mad Cow disease, from Britain to continental Europe. Then in a bizarre twist of fate, foot-and-mouth disease was discovered in Britain in February, and this week in France. Adding to the hysteria, another major meat exporter, Argentina, confirmed this week that it too had an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.

Mad Cow is a major threat because in its human form the brain-wasting disease has caused deaths in Europe. Foot-and-mouth rarely affects humans but is devastating to livestock and spreads like wildfire on clothes, shoes or even in the wind.

These outbreaks have set off a chain reaction of trade sanctions circling the globe as countries free of the diseases desperately try to keep them out. The U.S. Agriculture Department this week banned imports of meat from the European Union, which it estimates will affect $278 million in trade.

``It's hard to identify any real winners (from the situation),'' said Ben Beneke, a senior analyst at World Perspectives, an agriculture analysis firm in Washington, D.C. ''The long-term effects could be weighing on the market for quite some time.''

WILL WORLD TRADE BE THE LOSER?

No one knows if at the end of the chain, global agricultural trade will be the loser of the sanctions game. But already there are signs that the panic is having some unintended consequences far beyond Europe.

-- Canada banned imports of Brazilian beef on Feb. 2 because of Mad Cow concerns. The United States and Mexico, partners with Canada in the North American Free Trade Agreement, followed suit. There was an outcry in Brazil, which argued it had never had a Mad Cow disease case. Canada said Brazil was slow to document it was free of Mad Cow. The ban was finally ended on Feb. 23 but left a residue of hard feelings between two of the world's biggest agricultural traders.

-- Some North African and central European countries threatened this week to restrict imports of grain from European Union countries because of foot-and-mouth fears. Morocco and Tunisia on Thursday both issued statements backing off the threats. But even a hint of restrictions on grain prompted a furious reaction from beleaguered European farmers, who fear the spread of trade sanctions to the world market in grains, which is even larger than trade in meat and livestock.

Decades Of Prying Open Markets

Since the Second World War successive rounds of global trade negotiations have gradually lowered some barriers to world agricultural trade. Import tariffs were reduced and a start was made at lowering export subsidies that distorted competition.

Global exports of fresh, chilled and frozen meat doubled to 20.8 million tons over the decade through 1999, the latest year for which figures are available, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization said. Leading exporters such as the European Union, United States, Canada, Australia, Argentina and Brazil expanded agri-processing industries to take advantage of the trend.

Commodity analysts said a major question is whether the impact of the disease outbreaks in Europe will quickly pass or have a long-term impact?

The Case Of Taiwan

Some worrying hints of an answer might be found in the case of Taiwan, which suffered a devastating outbreak of foot-and-mouth in 1997. A quarter of its 14 million pigs were slaughtered and a $1.55 billion-a-year pork export industry was killed. Taiwan still is not free of foot-and-mouth.

The outbreak led to trade diversion as the United States and Denmark stepped in to fill Taiwan's exports of pork to Japan. ``But no one went without a pork chop,'' said Paul Drazek, a Washington-based agricultural trade consultant.

While the European disease scourge may be a temporary boon to disease-free exporters, those gains might be fleeting.

European consumers may be spurning beef for pork or chicken. The world's leading purveyor of hamburgers, McDonald's Corp. said on Wednesday its sales in Europe have suffered because of the disease scare.

Finally, as thousands of livestock are slaughtered and burned to stop the spread of the disease, fewer animals will consume less grain, and imports of grain, oilseeds and their products might decline, Beneke said. Chicago futures prices for grains and soybeans have been hit this week due to such fears.

(Richard Cowan in Washington contributed to this report)


15 Mar 01 - CJD - Devro burnt by BSE and cautions on foot-and-mouth

By Lisa Clifford in London

Financial Times--Thursday 15 March 2001


Shares in Devro were near an all-time low on Wednesday as the Glasgow-based sausage-skin maker revealed details of a bleak year marred by BSE and cautioned that the foot-and-mouth crisis would further cloud its outlook.

The shares, which hit a high of 545p in mid-1998, fell 51/2p to 431/2p.

Underlying annual profits dropped 20 per cent as consumers, particularly in Germany, avoided meat following last year's BSE outbreak in mainland Europe.

Devro was also forced to source the collagen used in its casings from countries with no BSE in their cattle herds, which is expected to lift costs by 2m this year.

Foot-and-mouth has so far had no effect on sales but has further damaged the BSE-battered perception of Devro's products, mainly in Asian markets.

Pre-tax profit for the year to December 31 was 19.8m, against a loss of 24.3m previously after exceptionals of 50.9m, reflecting restructuring and the write-down of the value of it s fixed assets.

Turnover fell to 229.5m (241.6m) while operating margins also came under pressure, dropping from 11.9 to 10.5 per cent. A final dividend of 3.3p (1.7p) is proposed, giving a maintained total of 5p. This is payable from earnings per share of 8.3p (losses of 19.5p).

Analysts on Wednesday scaled back forecasts for underlying profits for this year from about 21m to 15m. Charles Hall at WestLB Panmure said the fear of BSE would continue to depre ss European meat consumption for some time.

"Devro's product is absolutely fine as far as regulations go, but they're still going to have a number of countries who won't buy from the UK," he said.

Cellulose prices fell by about 10 per cent in 2000, further adding to the woes at Devro. The crucial US market was especially difficult due to sluggish demand for hot dogs.

Devro has been trying to sell the cellulose business for the past year but has so far had little success.

Graeme Alexander, chief executive, said up to six companies had expressed serious interest in buying the division but said Devro had received no formal offers as yet.

Discussions were continuing with one potential buyer.


15 Mar 01 - CJD - BSE still biggest food safety worry, says report

Ananova

PA News--Thursday 15 March 2001


Consumers still rate BSE as their number one food safety worry, despite the current outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, according to new research.

Almost 60% say Mad Cow disease is their top concern, while the virus now ravaging Britain's livestock is sixth with 34%.

Despite their fears, almost two-thirds of people have no plans to cut back their meat-eating, the study for market analysts Mintel said.

Concerns over BSE have continued to rise, as two years ago just a third of adults believed it to be the greatest threat to their health.

Salmonella is now the second biggest issue (46%), followed by food poisoning in general and E-coli (both 37%).

GM foods, which were the number one source of anxiety for half of consumers in 1999, are now in fifth place on 36%.

Foot-and-mouth trails behind them on 34%, tying at sixth with foods related to cancer-risk and pesticides in fruit and vegetables.

There were far greater concerns in the north west (47%), where there have been more foot-and-mouth outbreaks, compared to the south (27%), the poll of 1,010 people found.

"These latest results buck trends in attitude over recent food safety issues," said Mintel consumer goods consultant Elvira Doghem-Rashid.

"Research over the years shows the number one food safety issue is whatever is in the headlines at the time. In this case that is not the story, which suggests that consumers are not placing foot-and-mouth at the top of their minds."


15 Mar 01 - CJD - USDA Expands Euro Beef Ban

By Neil Sherman, HealthScout Reporter

YAHOO--Thursday 15 March 2001


WEDNESDAY, March 14 (HealthScout) -- If you're an American who loves European pork, you won't see it on shelves any time soon, but you can still eat all the brie you want. And if you're coming back from Europe, be prepared for a closer look when you get to customs.

The United States ban on imports of meat and animal products was expanded yesterday to all 15 countries of the European Union after a case of foot-and-mouth disease crossed the English Channel from Britain and was uncovered on a farm in France. Brie and most other cheeses for U.S. export are heated in the process of making them, and that kills the virus.

The virus can also hitchhike in on clothing and shoes, hence, closer inspections at airports. Agents may even dunk soiled shoes into bleach to keep the virus from entering the country.

The expanded ban, which includes unpasturized dairy products, comes on the heels of banning all livestock and meat imports from Britain and Ireland Feb. 21 because of the foot-and-mouth epidemic.

Britain, which has confirmed 214 infected foot and mouth disease cases, has already slaughtered more than 120,000 animals. France has killed 50,000 sheep in an effort to contain the virulent disease.

The European Union ban is temporary, says Jim Rogers, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Riverdale, Md. "Bear in mind that foot-and-mouth disease has been eradicated in the U.S. since 1929, so we've had previous measures in place since then. The current expanded ban has been put in place to give us time to review the data the European Union is sending us and to look at our own data as well to determine whether or not full restrictions are needed."

Rogers says that "live swine and ruminants such as cattle and sheep and any fresh ruminant meat, fresh or frozen and other product of swine or ruminants -- an example of that would be milk -- has been banned for importation in the United States."

Meat products that have been canned and heat-treated so that they "would have a shelf life" are not banned, Rogers adds. "But if you're in any doubt, check with one of our agriculture agents."

Foot-and-mouth disease is a severe, virulent viral disease of cattle and swine. It also affects sheep, goats, deer and other cloven-hoofed ruminants, according to the USDA.

The virus causes fever and blister-like sores followed by erosions on the tongue and lips, in the mouth, on the teats, and between the hooves. Many affected animals recover, but the disease leaves them incapacitated.

The disease does not affect humans, Rogers says.

The USDA's action has the support of the National Cattleman's Association, says spokeswoman Carole duBois in Washington, D.C. "We support the USDA because we think it's important to protect American cattle and swine," she says. "People should know that the virus that causes foot-and-mouth is highly contagious, and we want to do all that we can to keep the beef supply safe."

Beef from England is banned from importation because of Mad Cow disease or bovine spongiform encephalitis (BSE), duBois says. "We haven't imported anything from the United Kingdom since the early 1990s," she explains.

Travelers to countries where foot-and-mouth disease is endemic should be careful, duBois says. "The USDA has stepped up inspection for travelers who have been to countries with foot-and-mouth. People should recognize that it has a very dry, airborne virus that can attach to clothing or shoes. So tell customs when you come back to the country if you've been near a farm on your travels, or you're bringing agricultural products back into the country."

"We've even asked our members to carefully monitor who's coming onto the property and to take proper precautions to wash shoes and clothes," she adds.

What To Do

For more information on foot-and-mouth disease, see the USDA, which also has information on restrictions on products from countries with foot-and-mouth disease.

Or you might want to link to these previous HealthScout stories on cattle and how they affect human health.


15 Mar 01 - CJD - Abbott Labs Agreement With Enfer Scientific for Mad Cow Disease (BSE) Tests



PR Newswire--Thursday 15 March 2001


More Rapid, Reliable Tests Help Ensure That Only BSE-Free Meat Enters Human Food Chain

ABBOTT PARK, Ill., March 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT) today announced that it has entered into an agreement with Enfer Scientific Ltd. for the marketing and distribution of two diagnostic tests used to detect Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle.

The tests, developed by Enfer Scientific, an animal diagnostics company in Tipperary, Ireland, are used to detect the presence of the abnormal prion protein associated with BSE, also known as "Mad Cow disease." The first is a four-hour ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) test, approved by the European Commission. The features of the test, including its rapid turnaround time and high throughput capabilities, make it ideally suited for testing for Mad Cow disease.

The second test is a supplemental diagnostic test used to confirm positive results. Both tests are conducted on brain tissue and spinal cord samples from cattle.

"Abbott's leadership position in diagnostics and its global presence will ensure that these important products are made widely available to meet a growing demand for reliable and sensitive BSE tests," said Thomas D. Brown, senior vice president, diagnostic operations, Abbott Laboratories. The tests are manufactured by Enfer Scientific and will be marketed by Abbott under the Enfer name.

"We believe we have two very effective tests that improve the speed and reliability of BSE testing," said Louis Ronan, director of Enfer Scientific. "By helping to ensure that only BSE-free meat enters the human food chain, these tests are making an important contribution to public safety."

BSE is a transmissible, neuro-degenerative brain disease of cattle. BSE first came to the attention of the scientific community in November 1986 with the appearance in cattle of a newly recognized form of neurological disease in the United Kingdom. The prevailing theory is that the disease crossed the species barrier from cows to humans, and that people may catch the disease from eating beef that contains prion proteins. Prion proteins are a normal component of human and animal brains, but if they assume the wrong shape, they become lethal as they create plaques that are toxic to brain tissue.

Abbott Laboratories is a global, diversified health care company devoted to the discovery, development, manufacture and marketing of pharmaceutical, diagnostic, nutritional and hospital products. The company employs approximately 70,000 people and markets its products in more than 130 countries. In 2000, the company's sales and net earnings were $13.7 billion and $2.8 billion, respectively, with diluted earnings per share of $1.78.

Abbott's news releases and other information are available on the company's Web site at http://www.abbott.com.">

15 Mar 01 - CJD - Hungary Fights Mad Cow Disease

By Greg Walters

Central Europe Online--Thursday 15 March 2001


BUDAPEST, Mar 14, 2001 -- (Budapest Sun) Hungary's domestic beef consumption has been decreasing steadily over the last half decade, although paranoia over Mad Cow disease (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or BSE) is perhaps only partially to blame.

According to the 1999 Hungarian Book of Statistics, beef and veal purchases hovered around 6.5 kilograms per capita between 1990 and 1995, but then began a gradual downward slide that reached 4.4 kilograms per capita in 1998. Last year, according to the Hungarian meat guild, beef consumption was at a paltry 2 kilograms per capita.

In the long term, however, lagging beef sales may be driven more by market forces than customer safety concerns.

Due to the breakup of farm cooperatives in the wake of the fall of the Communist regime, Hungary's cattle population dwindled to approximately a third of its size in 1990.

The drop in supply caused the average store price of beef to nearly double, from roughly Ft400 per kilogram to Ft800.

This trend was interrupted only last year, when the market rate unexpectedly fell to around Ft700 per kilogram. Some, such as the Hungarian meat guild chairman Laszlo Zadori, claim that this change is unrelated to the BSE scare sweeping Western Europe. Others say that it is the first wave of Mad Cow fear spreading East.

Janos Kocsi is the owner of Techotex Kft, a company dealing with butcher shops and animal breeding centered in Budapest.

Techotex experienced a 15% drop in beef sales in 2000 and from conversations with his customers, Kocsi attributed this to consumer nervousness over BSE.

"People have a right to be careful," he said, even though the disease has yet to be detected in any Hungarian cattle.

International fast food companies, which rely heavily on beef products, report that they have not experienced extensive revenue losses in the Hungarian market.

Wendy's in Hungary, for example, said that lagging beef sales had been offset by greater demand for poultry and fish. Some, like McDonald's Kft, the Hungarian subsidiary of the world's largest fast food chain, are even thriving. At a recent press conference, McDonald's reported a 16% income rise last year with double-digit growth in January and February of 2001. "Sales in Hungary have not been affected for us," said Branislav Knezevic, managing director of McDonald's Kft. The meat guild told The Budapest Sun that Hungarian beef exports have remained unchanged over the last few years, even to EU countries where the BSE scare is full blown.

It may be worth noting, however, the lesson that Western Europe learned the hard way: Consumer confidence can be shattered almost overnight, as happened in countries like Germany and France when the first cases of Mad Cow came to light. Italy, which has only two reports of BSE on record, experienced a drop in beef sales by almost 40% late last year after the first infected animal was found in a McDonald's herd.

Beef distributors here maintain there's nothing to be afraid of, even while taking steps to ensure the safety of their products. McDonald's has stressed repeatedly that Loba Kft, its sole supplier for meat products sold in Hungary, rigorously observes EU standards for animal health and hygiene.

Wendy's began importing from a beef exporter in Uruguay last fall - not because they're worried about BSE, a spokesperson said, but because the meat tastes better.

Auchan, Tesco, Cora, and Burger King all told The Budapest Sun that they get their beef from Hungarian herds, which, they maintain, are BSE free.

BANNED

Although Mad Cow disease appears to be spreading out to the rest of Europe from it's origin in the UK, there exists the possibility that it may never breach Hungary's boarders. The Agriculture Ministry has banned cattle and animal feed imports from the UK, Portugal, France, and other EU countries; and after approximately 10,000 tests since 1989, has found no trace of BSE.

Also, it has never been common for Hungarian cattle to be fed with meat and bone meal, a practice thought to be a major factor in the spread of the disease. Such products, which have been used in Western Europe for decades as a protein supplement, were rare in Hungary because of their high price tag.

Instead, farmers here used an artificial product called carbomed, which can be translated into protein by the animal.

Hungary's neighbors are beginning to take precautions as well. Slovakia has been testing its livestock since 1995, and recently passed a ban on blood donations from people who spent more than six months in France and Britain between 1985 and 1998.

The Czech Republic plans to run 5,000 tests by the end of this year, while Poland will screen 20,000 animals that were imported last year from countries where BSE has been detected.

Even so, in the absence of a comprehensive livestock test, it is impossible for any country to claim with certainty that it is safe.

One of the most nerve-racking factors surrounding Mad Cow is its long incubation period. It can take years for an infected animal to show outward signs of the disease; in the mean time, the only way to tell is through a relatively expensive test. A single test for BSE can cost as much as $65.

In Britain, where the epidemic began in the mid-'80s and more than 80 people have died of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), the human form of BSE, beef consumption appears to have returned to pre-epidemic levels.

This fact seems to stress the difficulty of predicting how long the present situation will last or which direction it will take next.

But with no cure for vCJD in sight and cases of BSE arising in countries that previously considered themselves not to be at risk, this may only be the beginning.


14 Mar 01 - CJD - Nation takes major preventive measures as virus hits Britain

By Felice Wilson

Prague Post--Wednesday 14 March 2001


After BSE, it's foot-and-mouth

At first glance, the white powder that dusts the ground in front of Jiri Wimmer's cattle barn in Zdice looks like snow.

Instead, it is chlorine lime disinfectant, a limited protection against the spread of foot-and-mouth disease (FAM), a highly contagious livestock virus that erupted in Great Britain in February.

It also is an ominous sign of potential danger for the Czech Republic's livestock industry.

Although no cases of FAM have been detected on the European continent, there is no sure way to prevent the spread of the disease, and British officials admit that containment will take a "long time."

"It can be transmitted by anything, anyone and at any time," said Wimmer, 57, standing in front of his barn, which he has closed to everyone except employees.

Sometimes called the common cold for livestock, FAM attacks all animals with cloven, or split, hooves and can be transmitted by air, car tires -- even boots.

Not harmful to humans, FAM can devastate a country's livestock industry in a matter of days. Images of burning carcasses in England have driven home that point.

"This is a crisis situation," said Josef Simek of the Prague Veterinary Institute. "Unless we close the country's borders entirely, which is impossible, we cannot be 100 percent certain the disease will not spread."

Czechs call FAM the "drooling and limping" disease. Blisters form on an animal's mouth and hooves, causing loss of appetite and lameness. "As the ulcers get worse, animals begin to drool and have problems standing," said Wimmer.

FAM is not deadly, but recovered animals produce less milk and meat. Although there is a vaccine against FAM, it was banned in 1991 when European states, including the Czech Republic, adopted slaughter and incineration as the least costly containment method.

"It is devastating, not because it kills animals," said Simek, "but because it causes tremendous economic losses by spreading over a great territory and affecting great numbers of animals."

So far, more than 120,000 animals have been destroyed in England, and an export ban is costing the industry about 8 million British pounds (437 million Kc) in sales. There have nearly 200 confirmed sites of infection.

With fears still high over the deadly Mad Cow virus (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, BSE), Wimmer is feeling the pinch. He is already losing money, as much of his herd, which numbers 350, passes their prime. And instead of selling the animals to slaughter, he must continue to feed them.

"We can't buy because of FAM and can't sell because of BSE," he said. "There is no demand for beef.

"For me, FAM is worse because it spreads much more easily and faster than BSE. But in terms of its general impact on agriculture, BSE is much worse."

Emergency measures

Agriculture Minister Jan Fencl calls BSE a "virtual reality" compared with FAM, which he said "is much more intense."

"It's an agricultural catastrophe," he said.

FAM is not a stranger to this area. Slovakia faced an epidemic in 1973, when 100,000 animals had to be destroyed. In 1975, isolated outbreaks, which were quickly contained, were uncovered in Bohemia.

Fencl remembers stories of how it used to be when the disease started to spread. "I know from my grandparents that a long time ago, when the infection appeared, people just took straw, lit it and went around burning all the animals," he said.

On Feb. 22, one day after FAM was detected at an English slaughterhouse near Brentwood, Essex, the Czech Republic extended a previous ban on beef to include all imports of pig and sheep products from Britain and stopped the transit of animals within the country.

At Ruzyne airport, passengers arriving from Britain have to bathe the shoes they are wearing in liquid disinfectant and surrender dairy and meat products, which are later incinerated.

Because of suspected cases in Germany, the government's Central Epidemic Commission has imposed the same measures on road and rail transit, disinfecting all trains and vehicles at border crossings through at least March 27. Additionally, planes may only land at official Czech Airport Authority sites.

Farms are under virtual quarantine, with access rigorously limited. Chlorine lime, now in shortage, has become the standard threshold of every entryway.

If the virus is transferred across the English Channel, emergency plans will go into effect. Army, police and firefighting forces will mobilize to check border crossings, while enforcing strict quarantines. Slovakia has already closed its zoos and banned imports from all EU countries.

Emergency vaccinations also are an option.

"We will think about it," said Josef Holejsovsky, director of the State Veterinary Administration, "but we will never introduce it before the first case starts to spread."

Both vaccinated and infected animals produce an antibody to FAM, making it difficult to determine their health.

Otakar Stupka, a dairy and cattle farmer in Strasnice, dreads the vaccination option.

"Not only will we not be able to export to EU countries, but also to the United States, Canada and Australia," he said. "We won't be able to export at all, except maybe to the East."

Wimmer sees vaccination differently. "Without a doubt, it would be to our advantage," he said. "It would mean a future."

-- Vojtech Saman and Petr Kaspar contributed to this report.

Felice Wilson's e-mail address is fwilson@praguepost.cz


14 Mar 01 - CJD - Stymied by Mad Cow Disease, McDonald's Warns on First-Quarter Profits

By Lyle Niedens

Future Source--Wednesday 14 March 2001


Kansas City, March 14 (BridgeNews) - Ongoing concerns about the safety of Europe's meat supplies will probably push McDonald's Corp.'s first-quarter profits below Wall Street's expectations, the company said late Wednesday.

The Oak Brook, Ill.-based fast-food chain said it expects first-quarter earnings between 29 and 30 cents per share. That's 2 to 3 cents less than the current consensus projection of analysts surveyed by First Call/Thomson Financial.

The company also said its per-share profits for all of fiscal 2001 would be 4 to 5 cents shy of its previous estimates. Earlier this year, McDonald's said it would achieve profit growth of 10% to 13% for the year, placing its expected earnings in the range of $1.60 to $1.65 per share.

In late January, the company said that concerns about Mad Cow disease, which crimped hamburger sales at the company's European restaurants in the fourth quarter, had continued into this year.

"The effect of consumer concerns regarding the European beef supply has persisted longer than we expected, despite the fact that McDonald's overall safety and quality standards lead the industry," said chief executive officer Jack Greenberg.

McDonald's received widespread praise for its quick action in Britain's outbreak of Mad Cow disease in 1996, and the company has stressed repeatedly since November that its meat supplies are safe amid new reports of Mad Cow disease in western Europe.

In addition, McDonald's said Tuesday it has ordered all of its U.S. beef suppliers to document by April 1 that they have complied with federal restrictions banning animal protein in cattle feed, a suspected cause of Mad Cow disease.

Mad Cow disease is linked to a type of Creutzfeldt-Jakob syndrome, a brain-wasting condition in humans. Although blamed for dozens of deaths in the past decade in Britain and Europe, it never has appeared in the United States.

Mad Cow isn't McDonald's only problem in Europe. On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture temporarily banned all U.S. imports of fresh meat and livestock from Europe in an effort to halt the spread of foot-and-mouth disease. The disease, which is harmless to humans, affects cloven-hoofed animals such as pigs, cattle and lambs.

Named for the mouth blisters and lameness it causes, the disease rarely kills, but reduces the production of milk and meat, rendering the ailing livestock worthless.

Europe, where McDonald's generates 23% of sales at all franchises and company-owned locations, has been a thorn in its side for more than a year. Last year, the weakness of the euro against the U.S. dollar sharply reduced the company's reported revenue from its European operations.

Greenberg said the company is taking immediate action to remedy the company's difficulty in Europe. Its plans include accelerating menu changes and strengthening safety messages to consumers. The company also said it would reduce capital spending in emerging markets and review general and administrative costs to look for further savings.

Meanwhile, the company's U.S. sales have stagnated. Overall, McDonald's said sales at its nearly 13,000 U.S. locations in January and February were just $6.2 billion, unchanged from a year earlier.

In midday trading, McDonald's shares were down 24 cents at $27.56.


14 Mar 01 - CJD - Ethiopia Bans EU Meat Over Mad Cow Fears

Marjolein Harvey, Johannesburg

All Africa--Wednesday 14 March 2001


WOZA Internet (Johannesburg). Ethiopia said on Friday it had banned all animal and meat product imports from the European Union as a precaution against Mad Cow disease, according to a Reuters report. The agricultural ministry said the ban would remain in force until Ethiopia was satisfied the disease had been brought under control.

Though so far Africa has been spared Mad Cow disease, a UN food agency warned in February that countries continuing to import banned European animal meals are courting disaster.

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as Mad Cow disease, is able to infect humans with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD).

Recently, according to the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), several African countries have imported large quantities of animal meal. Last year, 89 000 metric tons of animal meal were exported to Africa from Europe.

The FAO wants countries to take a precautionary approach. Countries which have imported suspect animal meal should make sure they are not fed to ruminants such as cattle, sheep, and goats or any other animals to avoid the risk of infection.

Several countries in Africa have done so, reported African news agency Irin in February: on December 6, Cameroonian officials announced that the import of animal-derived meals from Europe would be barred to protect livestock and humans in Egypt, Hassan Eidaros, the chairperson of the Veterinary Services Authority, officially banned imported animal meal from several European countries among them Switzerland, Britain, Denmark and the Netherlands in Morocco, both animal-derived meal and live cattle have been indefinitely banned for import, regardless of their country of origin.

in Equatorial Guinea, several tons of imported meat from European Union countries were destroyed. The police have recently been authorised to seize meat and meat products of European origin being sold in local markets in Tunisia, where annual per capita meat consumption is approximately 12 kilograms, or a total of 110 000 tons for the entire country, an industry umbrella group has just placed an indefinite ban on the import of European Union meat. From now on, Tunisians will have to content themselves with local meat products not raised on feeds containing animal meal The SA Meat Industry Commission (Samic) won't be calling for a ban on beef imported from Europe (other than the UK) due to the growing Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) scare, stated chief executive Boet Venter. This according to a February report by Teigue Payne of the Food & Beverage Reporter.

SA imports very little beef from Europe anyway - last year a total of 21 000 tons was imported, mainly from Ireland and Belgium. In the last quarter of 2000, no beef was imported from Europe.

Venter speculates that this was a result of the fall in value of the rand. Most of the beef imported into SA from Europe is boneless frozen meat intended for use in meat processing.

Venter dismisses the suggestion that there could be an increased risk of BSE in meat taken from close to the bone, particularly the spine. He says that even the current contention that it is found in nerve tissue and marrow from the spinal chord, is yet to be scientifically proven.

The SA ban of beef from the UK - due to BSE - still stands, following a recent fact-finding mission to the UK by a national department of agriculture delegation, according to the Food & Beverage reporter.


14 Mar 01 - CJD - BSE diagnostic tests in Latvia will cost more than in Germany

Indra Sprance

LETA--Wednesday 14 March 2001


RIGA, March 14 (LETA) - The price for diagnostic tests of BSE or Mad Cow disease, estimated by the National Environmental Health Center, could be even greater than the price for such tests in Germany.

Vinets Veldre, head of the State Veterinary Service, told LETA that one BSE test costs DEM 100 to DEM 120 in Germany. The National Environmental Health Center has established that the costs for one test could be LVL 45.74.

According to Veldre, laboratories in Berlin, Birmingham, and other cities were considered. In Germany, the price for the procedure is about DEM 120 (about LVL 36), however, long lines have been forming there, those last in line will be able to take the test in only about a half-year.

Negotiations with the National Environmental Health Center are continuing. Veldre said that the issue of the price for the tests is under review first of all, as well as the issue of samples needed for taking the test. "Farmers cannot wait until there are enough samples provided by cattle, and the samples are tested," said Veldre.

Veldre stressed that the State Veterinary Service would rather use the services of domestic laboratories, he hopes that an agreement with the National Environmental Center could be reached already in the near future.


14 Mar 01 - CJD - Devro says BSE, foot-and-mouth to have 'considerable' short-term effect

Ananova

PA News--Wednesday 14 March 2001


LONDON (AFX) - Devro PLC said the current BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) and foot-and-mouth disease problems will have a considerable effect on its performance in the short term.

The emergence of BSE in the latter part of 2000 in mainland Europe was very significant and is reducing Devro's market potential in a number of countries as consumers reduce their purchases of meat products.

It is also limiting the availablility of raw material for its European production plants, so it is having to import significant volumes of dearer materials from other parts of the world.

Since year-end, foot-and-mouth disease has become an issue and although unlikely to be of long-term duration, these events will place "considerable added pressure" on Devro during 2001.

The cellulose business continues to be difficult, with very complex market dynamics. The sale of this business has been thoroughly investigated with several parties, but so far, no offer has been received that the board would recommend.

However, pricing trends in the cellulose business are now showing less volatility than has been the case for some time, Devro said.

Overall, Devro's sales slipped back 3.4% in 2000 to 229.5 million on a like-for-like basis, while underlying operating profit was 24.0 million, giving a margin of 10.5% compared with 11.9% in 1999.

Pretax profit before exceptional items at 21.3 million was 19.9% lower than in 1999. Underlying earnings per share was 9.0 pence, down from 11.2. A final dividend of 3.3 pence per share is proposed, bringing the total for the year to an unchanged 5 pence.

In small diameter cellulose casings in the year to Dec 31, 2000, the U.S. market showed few signs of recovery in 2000, with continued sluggishness in the domestic hot dog market and very little export activity for finished sausage products.

Elsewhere in cellulose, overall volumes finished 2000 slightly ahead of the prior year, although in Europe there was a marked decline during the course of the year after a particularly strong start.

The net effect of these different movements in volume, price and exchange in the small diameter cellulose casing business was a decline in global volume of 4% in 2000 and a reduction in sterling turnover of approximately 8%.

In collagen, 2000 had a very slow start, but sales volumes generally improved as the year developed. The year finished with volumes marginally ahead of those for 1999.


14 Mar 01 - CJD - Inquiry into sixth suspected Italian BSE case

Ananova

PA News--Wednesday 14 March 2001


A sixth suspected case of Mad Cow disease in Italy is being investigated.

The Health Ministry says the four-year-old animal at the centre of the latest suspected outbreak had been imported from Germany in 1999.

The cow was slaughtered March 10 in Lombardy, a northern region where three of the country's five confirmed cases have been found.

Preliminary results suggest Mad Cow disease; more definitive tests are still pending.

Italy has tested more than 45,000 animals since the beginning of the year, when European Union began requiring tests on cattle older than 30 months destined for slaughter.

So far, only five cases of Mad Cow disease have been found.

"We are still a low-impact area," Health Minister Umberto Veronesi said.

Italy considered itself Mad Cow-free until January, when the first case was found.

Many experts believe that Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, the formal name for Mad Cow disease, can be transmitted to people who eat meat from infected animals. So far, Italy has had no human cases.


14 Mar 01 - CJD - Sausage skin firm sees share price tumble

Ananova

PA News--Wednesday 14 March 2001


Shares in Devro, one of the world's biggest makers of sausage skins, are down 11% on the London Stock Exchange as the fallout from the foot-and-mouth outbreak spreads.

The fall in Devro's share price came after the Glasgow-based firm blamed BSE and foot-and-mouth disease for its pre-tax profit falling by 19.9% to 21.3 million.

At one point this morning, Devro's shares fell as low as 42p before staging something of a rally to stand at 431/2p, down 51/2p.

One dealer says: "At the moment, we're not sure how much BSE and foot-and-mouth are going to effect Devro.

"It might just be a short-term problem, but if it turns out to be longer term, it could have a much bigger impact on the company."

The food manufacturer says the foot-and-mouth crisis will place considerable added pressure on the company during 2001. However, it says this is unlikely to be of long-term duration.

Devro says the sale of its cellulose business has been thoroughly investigated with several parties but, as yet, no offer has been received that the board would recommend.


14 Mar 01 - CJD - Desperation Stalks Rural Britain on Foot-And-Mouth

By Elizabeth Piper

YAHOO--Wednesday 14 March 2001


LONDON (Reuters) - For men and women working the land, Britain's foot-and-mouth disease epidemic is much worse than the country's Mad Cow crisis.

With the stench of rotting animal corpses hovering over swathes of the countryside, many ewes dying in labor as they give birth alone in fields and the isolation of being trapped at home, many farmers have been driven to despair.

Some farmers have considered suicide, others have had their guns taken away from them by police for their own protection while a few gave up hope for their businesses when officials arrived unannounced to shoot their cattle, sheep or pigs.

``Farmers have had enough. There are all these cattle rotting everywhere, magpies and foxes are getting to them and the police are already taking the guns away from farmers...Everybody's scared,'' said Caroline Haddock, a farmer's wife working in one of England's worst-hit areas of Devon.

``This is worse than Mad Cow disease (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, BSE) and some farmers are bound to want to kill themselves,'' she told Reuters.

Farmers under restrictions due to the animal disease cannot leave their homes, their children cannot go to school and all they can do is watch television and see the huge pyres of animal carcasses being burned across the country.

Haddock said farmers may not be able to move their animals, but still have to feed and tend to them with no money coming in.

Animals Rot

``We can't sell anything. At least you could trade when BSE was at its height. Now you've got livestock that you cannot move, we're running short of feed,'' she said.

``We've had several farmers ringing us up in tears over the last few days because the next door's farm has gone down and they can see and smell all these animals rotting...People don't know how bad it's going to be.''

She said local villages were all but shut down, with pubs, hotels and even shops feeling the draconian restrictions on rural Britain that have turned much of the countryside into an effective ``no-go'' area.

``I think one of the main things is that MAFF (the UK Agriculture Ministry) can't cope. They're not letting farmers know what's going on, so you're getting farmers having MAFF turn up on their doorsteps and just shooting the cattle. Those farmers didn't even know they were going to come,'' she said. Farmers and their families have turned in their droves to help lines, with the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution saying it had received 10 times the number of calls since the beginning of the epidemic just over three weeks ago. Some UK agencies expressed fears of increased suicide among a population group who already have one of the highest rates, and called on farmers to use their help lines.

One farmer committed suicide every 11 days on average between 1991 and 1996.

Others have turned to their friends.

``A widow from Hampshire, a friend of many years standing, phoned me to say they are thinking about us and that helps,'' Bernard Partridge, whose farm in Essex is as yet free from the disease, said.

``Hopefully the people in dire straits will not be pushed over the edge.''


14 Mar 01 - CJD - McDonald's cuts first-quarter earnings outlook

By Deborah Cohen

YAHOO--Wednesday 14 March 2001


CHICAGO, March 14 (Reuters) - Hamburger giant McDonald's Corp. (NYSE:MCD - news) warned Wednesday its first-quarter earnings would be hurt by the growing consumer beef scare in Europe, which is reeling from the spread of Mad Cow disease and, more recently, foot-and-mouth disease.

The world's largest restaurant company, whose warning comes amid dampened outlooks from meat packer IBP Inc. (NYSE:IBP - news), consumer giant Clorox Co. (NYSE:CLX - news), and airline Northwest (NasdaqNM:NWAC - news), said it expects earnings in the period to be 29 to 30 cents a share on a reported basis.

That's below the prior year's 33 cents and the 32-cent Wall Street consensus, as tracked by First Call/Thomson Financial.

For the full year, McDonald's said results could be 2 to 3 cents below current forecasts of $1.60 a share if foreign currency exchange rates remain constant. In 2000, the company earned $1.46 a share.

McDonald's shares were down over 2 percent to $27.20 in early New York Stock Exchange trading, after a delayed opening at $26.30. The shares, which closed Tuesday at $27.79, have a 52-week trading range of $26.38 to $39.94.

``Although the company indicates certain steps it will take to improve its outlook, it is likely that the Street's confidence in McDonald's could be at an all-time low,'' wrote Salomon Smith Barney restaurant analyst Mark Kalinowski in research published Wednesday.

``The stock may be proverbial ''dead money`` for a while, as investors may want to see hard evidence of a sustained turnaround before they warm to the shares,'' he wrote. ``This may not happen until the second half of 2001.''

McDonald's Chief Executive Jack Greenberg said in a prepared statement that ``the effect of consumer concerns regarding the European beef supply has persisted longer than we expected, despite the fact that McDonald's overall safety and quality standards lead the industry and provide the benchmark for safe food around the world.''

He also said that difficult sales comparisons worldwide compared to the prior year, which had strong marketing programs, are pressuring results. The company is taking several measures to drive up sales, including hastening the development of more nonbeef menu offerings in Europe.

The company, which reported an unusual profit decline of 7 percent in its fourth quarter, began seeing its sales drop in Continental Europe, one of its largest markets, late last year. Cases of Mad Cow disease, a fatal brain-wasting affliction, were discovered in countries such as France and Germany. The less fatal but more contagious foot-and-mouth disease has now spread to Continental Europe from Britain.

On Tuesday, the USDA banned imports of European beef, on concern the disease could spread to the United States.

McDonald's says its hamburgers remain free of contamination and has repeatedly stressed that the muscle meat it uses for the products is not associated with Mad Cow disease.

In addition to broadening its menu variety, McDonald's said it is strengthening communication with customers, reviewing budgets and reducing capital expenditures in some emerging markets.


14 Mar 01 - CJD - Scientist Champions Foot-And-Mouth Vaccination

By Nick Tattersall

YAHOO--Wednesday 14 March 2001


LONDON (Reuters) - A scientist who was among the first to warn Britain's government that Mad Cow disease might be fatal to humans, said on Tuesday that animals at risk from foot-and-mouth virus should be vaccinated.

``Any infection around the world which is viral is controlled by vaccination programs. Foot-and-mouth spreads just like polio, which we are all vaccinated against,'' Dr. Harash Narang, formerly a clinical virologist at the government-funded Public Health Laboratory, told Reuters.

``A vaccine can be prepared within days. It would be quicker than slaughtering the animals. With material from one animal 10,000 doses could be produced by the next day. Three days later you could have a million doses if you wanted,'' Narang added.

When the first cases of Mad Cow disease or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) were detected in cows, Narang says he and other scientists warned the then Conservative government in 1989 that the disease might be fatal to human consumers.

But the government discontinued funding for his research into BSE and Narang now conducts food safety research funded by a food supply firm.

Although the foot-and-mouth virus had several strains, it would not be difficult to develop a common vaccine, and the cost would be negligible, Narang said.

``The raw material costs nothing, and in terms of research and development, we're already there,'' Narang said.

Britain's Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Foods (MAFF) said there were no plans yet for an inoculation program against the virus sweeping the country, but did not rule it out at a later stage.

``There are quite substantial supplies of vaccine available, should a decision be taken to turn to them,'' a spokesman for MAFF said. ``But we would be going against EU policy if we started using them now.''

France reported the first case of foot-and-mouth disease in mainland Europe earlier on Tuesday, confirming the continent's fears that the financially ruinous contagion had spread across the sea from Britain in the wake of the unrelated, deadly BSE.

Economic And Logistic Nightmare

Britain is reluctant to start vaccinating livestock as it would lose its foot-and-mouth-free status on international markets, bestowed by the Paris-based International Epizootic Office (OIE).

``Although vaccines might protect animals against clinical disease, they don't necessarily protect against the infection and the ability of the animal to replicate the virus,'' Professor Chris Bostock of the UK Institute for Animal Health said.

Vaccines would also complicate any future battle with the disease, as inoculated animals would be indistinguishable from infected animals in laboratory tests, Bostock said.

``No country that is free of foot-and-mouth disease would trade with us because vaccinated animals can still be carriers,'' Bostock added.

But Narang said that whilst live vaccines, which have been used in the past to control such diseases as polio, smallpox and measles, could lead to long-term infection, animals vaccinated with a dead virus could not be carriers.

``We are not talking about live viruses,'' Narang said. ``If you use a dead virus, like in the flu or hepatitis jab, the animals will not be carriers.''

While foot-and-mouth vaccines worked effectively in many parts of the world, some scientists said the introduction of a vaccination program would be tantamount to accepting foot-and-mouth disease as endemic in the UK.

The Institute for Animal Health's Bostock said an effective and practical dead vaccine had not yet been fully developed.

``In the course of being vaccinated animals can establish a persistent infection, and become long-term carriers of the virus,'' Bostock said.

``More effective vaccines that would prevent the complications of persistent infection are many years off,'' Bostock added.

But Narang said animals which had been inoculated could easily be tagged and therefore identified as safe for export.

``I would like to see the electronic tagging of animals, to show that they are infection-free,'' Narang said.

A solution to the problem may lie in developing an internationally recognized test to distinguish between infected animals and those that had been inoculated.

``Most government laboratories are working on tests and trying to define an internationally acceptable standard,'' one scientific source said.

``But it would need to be 100 percent accurate, 99.9 percent would not be enough -- one animal could make all the difference,'' the source said.


14 Mar 01 - CJD - Asia To Remain A Mad Cow Disease-Free Area - Industry

By Prime Sarmiento

YAHOO--Wednesday 14 March 2001


SINGAPORE (Dow Jones)--Asian consumers can continue eating steaks and hamburgers without worrying that it might be infected with the dreaded Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy virus, or BSE.

The mad-cow scare is plaguing Europe, but industry sources in Asia maintained there's a very slim chance the BSE epidemic will spread to Asia.

Asia is a buyer of beef from the U.S. and Australia, two BSE-free sources of meat, they said.

Also, Asia's cattle thrives on a safer plant-based diet and aren't fed with meat-and-bone meal, or MDM, which has been tied to the spread of the BSE virus.

"When it comes to livestock, most Asian countries don't do a lot of trade with Europe," said Salvador Escudero, livestock expert and former Philippine Agriculture Secretary.

According to Australia's Meat and Livestock Association, the BSE crisis caused a fall in beef consumption by over 25% since the start of the year in continental Europe and led to a sharp rise in stocks to over 110,000 tons from zero.

The mad-cow scare in Europe raised fears that the same disease will be transported to Asia, harming both animal and human in the region.

The BSE virus will not only cause fatal brain affliction in livestock, but also brings a deadly brain wasting disease to a person that eats BSE-infected meat.

Escudero added that Asia's cattle raisers prefer to use soybeans and grass as feedmeal because these are cheaper than imported meat-and-bone meal.

In contrast, most European cattle raisers prefer to use meat-and-bone meal because it's a cheaper protein source than vegetable-based feedmeal, Escudero said.

Escudero, a veterinarian and consultant to some of the Philippines' biggest agribusiness firms, said Asian countries use meat-and-bone meal only as a poultry, hog and aqua feed.

And BSE isn't transmissible through pigs and poultry, he said.

No Mad Cow In Japan, South Korea

Government officials in Japan and South Korea have assured their respective populace that they're eating safe beef.

Japan and South Korea are Asia's biggest importers and consumers of beef. But the two countries aren't likely to consume BSE-infected beef as their massive appetite for barbecues and beef bowls have long been sated by Australian and U.S. cattle ranches.

"We import beef from Australia and the U.S. We've already stopped importing beef from Europe," said Kenichi Matsubara, director of the Animal Health Division at the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Japan imports roughly 1 million metric tons of beef every year with over 90% coming from the U.S. and Australia, said the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Also, Japanese cattle are mostly fed with soybeans and grass, he added.

"It's not usual for us to feed meat-and-bone meal to cattle. We don't have such a habit here," he said.

Figures culled by the USDA showed that between 1995 and 2000, Japan accounted for 5% of the European Union's meat-and-bone meal market. Matsubara said all of these meat-and-bone meal go to poultry and hog farms.

Since Feb. 15, the Japanese government has banned beef and beef-related imports from 15 E.U. countries, Switzerland and Liechstein. Like Japan, South Korea is a chief patron of U.S and Australian beef.

South Korea imports 300,000 tons of beef annually, with 90% of its imports coming from the U.S. and Australia. It also buys small amounts of beef from New Zealand, Canada and Uruguay.

The native Korean Hanwoo cattle is also not prone to the BSE virus as Hanwoo is fed on a diet that consists of rice bran, straw and other vegetable matter from farms, according to Hong Jae Sun, assistant manager of the Korean Feed Millers Association.

He added most local livestock raisers prefer soybean meal over meat-and-bone meal.

ASEAN, China Beef Fit To Eat

"Safe meat" is the buzzword among other Asian countries as well. From Manila to Beijing, everyone is proclaiming the Mad Cow disease doesn't exist in their area.

Indonesia imports meat from Australia and New Zealand and has stopped importing meat from the United Kingdom since 1990, Tri Satya Putri Hutabarat, head of the Animal Disease, Prevention and Eradication Department of Indonesia's Ministry of Agriculture said.

The USDA also noted that Indonesia seldom import beef, with 95% of its requirements sourced from its domestic cattle industry.

As early as January this year, the Indonesian government barred imports of meat and meat-and-bone meal from Europe, several Asian countries and Africa.

Indonesia, for instance, imports meat-and-bone meal from the E.U. But the USDA said Indonesia's meat-and-bone meal imports went to the poultry and fish farms.

Philippine Agriculture Secretary Leonardo Montemayor didn't only impose a ban against European beef, he also led a beef-eating feast held at the Philippine Department of Agriculture's headquarters in Manila, Thursday.

"Beef from locally raised and fattened cattle is safe to eat. The Philippines is a Mad Cow-free territory," Montemayor told Manila's reporters.

Malaysian authorities continue to bar the entry of Thai beef, suspecting that it might be tainted with BSE virus. But the Thai government said Thai beef isn't infected with BSE as Thai cattle eat grains, grass and tapioca.

Taiwan's Council of Agriculture didn't only suspend imports of live animals, meat and feedmeal from Europe, but has also banned imports of some cosmetics from the E.U. Some European-made lipsticks, perming products and whitening cream contain collagen or placenta extract that were derived from animal tissue or organs.

In Beijing, the state-run China Daily reported last month that China's Ministry of Agriculture planned to inspect both imported and local cattle on the BSE virus.

The newspaper said China imported 500 heads of cattle last year, but noted that these animals were bought from countries which aren't hit by the BSE epidemic.

(Frans Ruffino in Jakarta contributed to this article.)


14 Mar 01 - CJD - Iowa experts discuss Mad Cow disease

By Jerry Perkins, Register Farm Editor

DesMoines Register--Wednesday 14 March 2001


There is little chance Mad Cow disease will appear in the United States, said Edward "Pat" Finnerty, a professor of pharmacology at Des Moines University-Osteopathic Medical Center.

Mad Cow disease, also called Bovine Spongioform Encephalopathy, surfaced in Europe in the 1980s. The deadly brain disease has been diagnosed in 182,000 animals, none in the United States.

Humans can contract a variant of the disease known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Although extremely rare, the diseases are almost always fatal.

"It's a devastating disease," Finnerty said, "but your chances of winning the lottery are better than getting it."

There are a lot of misconceptions about Mad Cow disease, Finnerty said.

To clear up the misunderstandings, Finnerty, Des Moines University and the Iowa Academy of the Sciences are sponsoring "Will the Madness Come to Iowa: Mad Cow Disease and Its Potential Impact on Iowa," to be held from 7 to 9:30 p.m. today at the Medical Education Center, Tower Medical Clinic, 3200 Grand Ave., Des Moines.

Scheduled to speak are Finnerty, Iowa Agriculture Secretary Patty Judge, Dr. Mary Jo Schmeer of the National Animal Disease Laboratory in Ames, and Dr. John Schiltz, Iowa's state veterinarian.

There is no charge. For more information, call (515) 271-1649.


14 Mar 01 - CJD - Mad Cow scare averted

Staff Reporter

DVM Magazine--Wednesday 14 March 2001


Washington-Government officials announced Jan. 30 they no longer fear a Mad Cow, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), outbreak among 1,222 Texas cattle mistakenly fed bone meal contaminated feed.

Purina Mills, Inc., the St. Louis-based feed supplier, voluntarily purchased the herd to keep its meat from entering the human food market.

"It was a simple human error," company spokesman Max Fisher says. "In the course of mixing one batch of cattle feed, the bone meal was inadvertently included in that mixture. We immediately initiated a product recall."

But the recall wasn't fast enough. On Jan. 17, the tainted batch was distributed to a privately owned feedlot in Gonzales County, Texas-just a day after its manufacture. Purina notified FDA officials who contacted the feedlot owner, recommending the herd be isolated and kept out of the meat market.

"The FDA did not put a quarantine on those cattle," FDA spokeswoman Ray Jones says. "The Wall Street Journal reported that, and a lot of hysteria was caused because of that word. This was voluntary on the part of the feedlot owner."

Thirteen days after tests on the tainted feed began, FDA officials released findings showing the herd could not have consumed more than a quarter ounce of animal by-product, lessening the chance of a Mad Cow outbreak.

"It is important to note that the prohibited material was domestic in origin (therefore not likely to contain infected material because there is no evidence of BSE in U.S. cattle), fed at a very low level and fed only once," the report says. "The potential risk of BSE to such cattle is therefore exceedingly low, even if the feed was contaminated."

Although a confirmed case of BSE hasn't shown up in the United States, isolating a potentially problematic herd is one of the first steps in the government's emergency response plan, FDA spokesman Brad Stone says.

For a more detailed report, see the March issue of DVM Newsmagazine.


14 Mar 01 - CJD - As Mad Cow Panic Hits Eateries...Italians Are Sampling Kangaroo

By Monica Larner in Florence

Business Week--Wednesday 14 March 2001


On most weekend nights, the line of hungry customers waiting for a seat at Florence's legendary Il Latini restaurant spills halfway down the narrow, stone-paved Via Palchetti. But for the past few months, getting in to feast on the house specialty--the encyclopedia-size Fiorentina T-bone steak--has been easier. "This Mad Cow thing is just like the millennium bug," proclaims Torello Latini, who with his wife runs the restaurant founded by his father, Narciso, more than half a century ago. "People are scared, but they'll soon see there's nothing to it."

That may be. But for now, with five cases of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) confirmed since the beginning of the year--from only 38,000 animals tested as of Mar. 6, out of a total of 7 million--Italy's Mad Cow crisis has taken a heavy toll on consumer confidence. In response, restaurant owners such as Latini are rewriting their menus.

Despite unwavering reassurances from the Agriculture Ministry that Italian meat is safe, many of the recipes handed down by mamma have been relegated to the back burner. The Fiorentina T-bone, which is served raw on the inside after no more than five minutes' barbecue over hot embers, faces possible extinction on Apr. 1, when an EU ban on the use of the vertebral column from cattle aged over 12 months is scheduled to take effect. So it's time to get creative. "I added a few new dishes to my menu, including one used in medieval Tuscany in which wild game is stewed with honey and chocolate," says the portly Latini. "But the Fiorentina is just as much a part of Tuscany as Chianti wine, and tastes won't change." He does concede that Fiorentina sales dropped in January and February, adding that families and female eaters especially have been skipping the meat course in favor of pasta or vegetables.

From Milan to Messina, namesake dishes are no longer whetting appetites in a country that saw beef consumption tumble by 70% from the year before in some regions in January. Risotto alla milanese is rice cooked in a broth made of bone marrow and yellow saffron. In Rome, locals feast on fried cow brain and artichoke as well as pajata, noodle-like strips of a young cow's intestine served with tomato sauce. But now, restaurant-goers are steering clear. "I've been trying a lot of new ethnic foods lately, like Chinese and Indian," says Milan lawyer Fabrizio Soda. "And I'm eating more seafood."

FUNERAL MARCH. Rome plans to dole out $250 million in emergency funds to farmers and also fine up to $75,000 any company using or producing animal-based livestock feed. Ranchers and butchers, who suffer from guilt by association even though they say they've never used the feed, are up in arms. Since January, many have staged cook-off protests in front of Parliament, handing out free steaks and red wine. Butcher Dario Cecchini, whose shop in Panzano in the Chianti region has been in family hands for 200 years, plans to stage a T-bone steak funeral march at the end of March. A Fiorentina will be placed in a coffin and paraded through town. "Tuscans like to celebrate gluttony and lust, and the Fiorentina is all about those things," says Cecchini, who is known as the "poet butcher" because he can recite the entire "Inferno" from Dante's Divine Comedy. Sure enough, he stands behind a glass counter adorned with devils and gold-gilded flames.

Beef may be cursed, but enterprising chefs have been quick to find substitutes to serve Italian carnivores. Ostrich, bison, reindeer, and even kangaroo meat are popping up on menus. Bison makes good salami, and reindeer can be served with a black truffle and caper sauce that overpowers the meat's gamey taste. Kangaroo, imported from Australia, can be breaded and fried with marjoram. Ostrich, served raw and thinly sliced, makes a great carpaccio. Guido Bruzzo, who imports more than a ton of ostrich meat every month that retails for $20 a kilo, has seen demand rise by 25% since the start of the Mad Cow crisis. The number of Italian ostrich farms has almost doubled in five years, to 1,770, with 150 of those in Tuscany alone.

The irony is that beef sales are creeping up again--by as much as 47% from the second to third week of February in the south, where Mad Cow fears were originally strongest. Some have suggested that the turnaround is fueled by steak eaters wanting to squeeze in their last Fiorentina before the ban goes into effect. But it could be that reindeer meat simply doesn't get Italian juices flowing.


14 Mar 01 - CJD - 'Mad Cow' cargo out tomorrow

Cesar T. Bilowan

ManiLA Times--Wednesday 14 March 2001


The 17 containers of frozen beef, meat and bone meal seized earlier by customs authorities on suspicion the products are contaminated with the "Mad Cow" disease will finally be shipped back tomorrow (Tuesday) to their countries of origin, according to Customs Commissioner Titus Villanueva.

Villanueva also said he directed all district collectors and intelligence and enforcement officials to keep a tight watch to deter attempts by some smugglers to bring in beef from "Mad Cow" disease infected countries in Europe.

Meantime, the customs chief belied charges that the bureau decided to keep the illegal shipments at the Manila International Container Port at North Harbor and at the Port of Cebu to sell these through auction to interested parties.

"Reports saying the BOC intends to auction off the 'Mad Cow' beef are not true. We do not even allow these banned shipments to be opened," he said.

He explained the re-exportation was delayed due to some technicalities in the processing of the documents, aside from the refusal of the importers to shoulder the reshipment costs.

The customs bureau took time in convincing the importers, as well as the customs brokers who handled the questioned shipments, to shoulder the cost of the re-exportation, Villanueva said.

During the beef-eating roadshow in Quezon City on Thursday, the customs chief informed the Department of Agriculture that 17 containers of "Mad Cow" beef will be shipped back to their countries of origin-Ireland, Germany and Holland-on or before March 13.

Of the 15 containers (150,000 kilograms) seized by customs authorities at the MICP, 10 containers are consigned to Superior Stock Farm, three to Schutze International, and one each to Pacific Meat and Pescanova, Inc.

On the other hand, the two containers (25,000 kgs) still being kept on tight watch by the Cebu port are consigned to Leslie Corp.

He said that the other containers of frozen beef, pork and chicken seized in Cebu, and consigned to Monterey Foods Corp., a subsidiary of San Miguel Corp., one of the biggest meat processing companies in the Philippines, have been shipped back to Brazil and Ireland.

The shipments, which were seized by customs authorities because they lacked veterinary quarantine clearances, originating from Brazil were re-exported last Dec. 24 and Jan. 14, and those from Ireland were shipped back on Feb. 22.

"As far as the Bureau of Customs is concerned, we are doing our best to implement the guidelines issued by the Department of Agriculture concerning the ban on importation of beef from Europe. There should be no beef coming from Europe that will be unloaded in any of the country's ports," he stressed.

Earlier, DA Secretary Leonardo Montemayor urged the BOC to immediately re-export the seized beef to ensure that these products do not find their way into the local market.

Montemayor had also asked the embassies of European countries, namely, Ireland, Germany, The Netherlands, Denmark, France, Italy, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Luxemburg, Switzerland and the United Kingdom to assist in the re-exportation of the questionable shipment.

Villanueva also ordered all district collectors, including officials of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service and Enforcement and Security Service, to immediately re-export beef and other meat products imported from Europe to protect the local livestock industry.


13 Mar 01 - CJD - Food industry association warns against the spectre of BSE

Staff Reporter

Just Food--Tuesday 13 March 2001


Food industry association BVE has warned that the Mad Cow crisis may wreck last year's improved 3.2% sales growth on all foods.

"The existence of enterprises and employment levels in the meat processing industry are at great risk," BVE said in its annual report. It added that as many as 40,000 jobs out of a total 112,000 in the meat processing sector were at risk after demand for beef fell by 67%, and for meat in by 24%.

BVE said that last year food sales rose by 3.2% to 235.5bn marks (US$112.4bn), of which domestic sales were 192.6bn marks and exports 42.8bn marks.

BVE represents more than 5,000 mostly medium-sized food firms.


13 Mar 01 - CJD - McDonald's moves to enforce Mad Cow standards

Reuters

YAHOO--Tuesday 13 March 2001


CHICAGO, March 13 (Reuters) - McDonald's Corp., which has been struggling with fears of Mad Cow disease in Europe, said it will enforce compliance standards for its U.S. beef suppliers to ensure that the brain-wasting disease stays out of its U.S. hamburger supply.

McDonald's, among the largest purchasers of beef worldwide, has given its suppliers an April 1 deadline for providing documentation that the cattle they buy meet U.S. Food and Drug Administration standards for feed, a spokesman said on Tuesday.

The company, based in the Chicago suburb of Oak Brook, Illinois, expects 100 percent compliance from its beef suppliers, said the spokesman, Walt Riker.

``We wanted to help build extra firewalls of safety around the food supply chain in the U.S.,'' Riker told Reuters. ``We have a pretty big shopping cart, and when we come down the aisle people see it.''

Since animals are believed to contract the disease by eating infected tissue from other animals, the U.S. livestock industry in 1996 voluntarily agreed not to give cattle any feed containing remains of cattle or other cud-chewing animals such as sheep and goats.

The following year the FDA officially banned the use of such feeds in the cattle industry, but the agency said in January that many companies that produce animal feed in the United States were not following the regulations aimed at keeping Mad Cow disease from spreading to humans if it enters the United States.

Mad Cow, formally known as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), was discovered in Britain in 1986. The first cases in Continental Europe were discovered late last year. The human form of the disease is believed to be contracted by eating beef from tainted animals. So far, no cases of BSE have been discovered in the United States.

McDonald's said its fourth-quarter earnings fell 7 percent, largely due to a downturn in European sales as consumers backed away from beef amid the Mad Cow scare.

In December, shortly after Mad Cow was discovered in Continental European countries such as Germany and France, McDonald's called a meeting of its suppliers and regulators in Washington to discuss more stringent measures.


13 Mar 01 - CJD - US bans all animal imports from EU

Ananova

PA News--Tuesday 13 March 2001


The United States has suspended all imports of animals and animal products from the European Union after the confirmation of the first foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in France.

The ban imposed by the US Agriculture Department will have the biggest impact on imports of pork from the Netherlands and Denmark.

Imports of beef from the European Union have already been banned because of Mad Cow disease.

The United States has suspended all meat and animal imports from Britain on February 21 and ordered stepped-up checks of travellers arriving from the United Kingdom.

Airline passengers who have visited the British countryside are required to have their shoes disinfected.

Now, travellers from the European Union also may be subject to additional scrutiny.

In addition to the ban on shipments from the European Union, USDA says it is sending a team of 40 federal, state and university experts to Europe to monitor and assist in the efforts to contain the disease.

The department says it also will increase its public education efforts in the United States by installing more signs in airports, sponsoring public service announcements and providing a telephone hotline for information.


13 Mar 01 - CJD - Banned spinal cord in imports

Staff Reporter

Lancashire Evening Telegraph--Tuesday 13 March 2001


Banned spinal cord was found in imported beef at an East Lancashire meat cutting plant, according to the Food Standards Agency.

Meat Hygiene Service inspectors found the cord, thought to carry the greatest risk of BSE, during checks at Great Harwood Food Products, Balfour Street, Great Harwood.

The family-owned company is part of Slingers group, which includes the abattoir hit by the foot and mouth crisis.

Spinal cord, which should be removed when the animal is slaughtered, was found in two quarters of beef which were part of a 268 quarter shipment imported from Binepar, Spain.

An FSA spokesman stressed the Spanish abattoir had been at fault, not Great Harwood Food Products.

She said details of the breach have been sent to the Spanish Embassy in London and relevant authorities in Spain.

She said: "In the wake of the foot and mouth outbreak, more meat is being imported so we are stepping up checks.

"The extra vigilance is paying off and we are catching the very small number of cases that occur."

This is the latest in a string of cases across Britain of beef being imported with the banned spinal cord.

The Meat Hygiene Service and all local authorities were alerted a fortnight ago by the agency after earlier findings of spinal cord in Dutch and German beef.

Last week remnants of the cord were discovered at a factory in Dundee which came from the Spanish plant Giresa Palencia.

The FSA have been informed by the European Commission that two German abattoirs had their licences suspended by the German authorities after allegedly exporting beef containing spinal cord remnants to Britain.

And a 8cm piece of spinal cord was found in beef sent to a Blackpool abattoir from Holland.

A list of abattoirs which have broken the BSE controls has been issued to all local authorities and the Meat Hygiene Service, which is increasing staffing levels where necessary, has been warned to be on its guard.


13 Mar 01 - CJD - McDonald's to Enforce Mad Cow Standards

Reuters

YAHOO--Tuesday 13 March 2001


CHICAGO (Reuters) - McDonald's Corp., which has been struggling with fears of Mad Cow disease in Europe, said it will enforce compliance standards for its U.S. beef suppliers to ensure that the brain-wasting disease stays out of its U.S. hamburger supply. McDonald's, among the largest purchasers of beef worldwide, has given its suppliers an April 1 deadline for providing documentation that the cattle they buy meet U.S. Food and Drug Administration standards for feed, a spokesman said on Tuesday.

The company, based in the Chicago suburb of Oak Brook, Illinois, expects 100 percent compliance from its beef suppliers, said the spokesman, Walt Riker.

``We wanted to help build extra firewalls of safety around the food supply chain in the U.S.,'' Riker told Reuters. ``We have a pretty big shopping cart, and when we come down the aisle people see it.''

Since animals are believed to contract the disease by eating infected tissue from other animals, the U.S. livestock industry in 1996 voluntarily agreed not to give cattle any feed containing remains of cattle or other cud-chewing animals such as sheep and goats.

The following year the FDA officially banned the use of such feeds in the cattle industry, but the agency said in January that many companies that produce animal feed in the United States were not following the regulations aimed at keeping Mad Cow disease from spreading to humans if it enters the United States.

Mad Cow, formally known as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), was discovered in Britain in 1986. The first cases in Continental Europe were discovered late last year. The human form of the disease is believed to be contracted by eating beef from tainted animals. So far, no cases of BSE have been discovered in the United States.

McDonald's said its fourth-quarter earnings fell 7 percent, largely due to a downturn in European sales as consumers backed away from beef amid the Mad Cow scare.

In December, shortly after Mad Cow was discovered in Continental European countries such as Germany and France, McDonald's called a meeting of its suppliers and regulators in Washington to discuss more stringent measures.


13 Mar 01 - CJD - US bans EU animal imports due to foot-and-mouth

Ananova

PA News--Tuesday 13 March 2001


The United States is reported to have banned imports of animals and animal products from the European Union as the foot-and-mouth crisis deepens.

It hasn't taken cattle from France since the BSE crisis, reports Sky News.


12 Mar 01 - CJD - Spain earmarks new BSE funds, finds new cases

Reuters

Just Food--Monday 12 March 2001


MADRID, March 9 (Reuters) - The Spanish government said on Friday it would provide 2.4 billion pesetas ($14 million) of funding to help pay for cattle to be slaughtered as the country struggles to tackle Mad Cow disease.

Spain also confirmed two new cases of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) on Friday, pushing the total to 34 since the brain-wasting disease first surfaced in November.

Analysts have said that Spain's incinerators are struggling to cope with the number of cattle being slaughtered and carcasses have been found dumped in various parts of Spain.

The new funds will be spent in the first half of the year, during which Spain plans to slaughter 180,000 cattle.

"With these measures the Agriculture Ministry will finance 33 percent of the cost of measures taken to stem and eradicate the disease," a statement from the ministry said.

Earlier this week, a government report said livestock, including prized fighting bulls, may have been given animal-based feed long after it was banned under EU rules to stem Mad Cow disease.

The discovery of the feed containing animal matter - widely blamed for the spread of BSE - has raised fears that the number of cases in Spain could rise as testing is extended.


12 Mar 01 - CJD - Australia/NZ guard against BSE with tighter feed rules

Reuters

Just Food--Monday 12 March 2001


CANBERRA, March 12 (Reuters) - Australia and New Zealand have agreed to further tighten animal feed controls to protect against livestock diseases and to safeguard valuable meat exports.

Australian and New Zealand agriculture ministers, meeting in New Zealand, agreed to remove exemptions and enforce a ban on feeding meat and bone meal containing pig, horse and kangaroo material to cattle, sheep, goats and deer (ruminants).

It was now illegal to feed cattle tissue derived from any mammal, blood or blood products derived from any mammal, and cooked meat suitable for human consumption which had been further heat processed into animal food, ministers said in a statement.

They also agreed to enforce a ban on the feeding of poultry meal (offal and feathers) and fish meal to ruminants.

The agreement was reached after recommendations from the industry-government body SafeMeat.

"Although the dairy and cattle industries have assured the public that they do not use mammalian material in stock feeds, they were keen for the government to make the regulations water-tight," the Agriculture Minister of the Australian state of New South Wales, Richard Amery, said in a statement.

The moves would reassure consumers and export markets that the Australian beef and dairy industries, and Australian governments, were taking all necessary steps to ensure Australia retained its status as free of Mad Cow disease, or BSE, he said.

BSE, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, last year spread through continental Europe after an earlier outbreak in Britain. Britain is also currently shaken by foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) after recent outbreaks in parts of Asia.

Agriculture Ministers, meeting in the Agriculture and Resource Management Council of Australia and New Zealand (ARMCANZ), said they were working to stop animal diseases reaching the livestock industries of Australia and New Zealand.

Risks had been asssessed not only from Europe but also from Asia, they said in a report issued after their meetings.

"Quarantine and response measures have and are being strengthened to minimise risk," the report said.

Australia's Trade Minister Mark Vaile said last week he was lobbying the European Union for wider market access for Australian beef.

About 70 countries worldwide have banned imports of beef products from the EU, many expressing interest in sourcing from Australia.


12 Mar 01 - CJD - Breach of BSE controls in imported Spanish beef

Reuters

Just Food--Monday 12 March 2001


Spinal cord was found on Friday (9 March) in a consignment of imported beef from Spain .

Spinal cord is included in the list of specified risk material (SRM) that is thought to be at greatest risk of carrying BSE infectivity. Under EU rules, it must be removed when the animal is slaughtered.

The discovery on Friday was made at a cutting plant in Blackburn, where quantities of spinal cord were discovered in two quarters of beef. It was part of a consignment of 268 quarters from the Fribin SAT abattoir, of Binepar, Spain. The beef was from animals aged under 30 months at the time of slaughter and therefore complied with the UK rules that prohibit the entry into the food chain of cattle aged over 30 months (the OTM rule).

The seizure follows the Food Standards Agency alerting the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) and all local authorities two weeks ago, after earlier findings of spinal cord in German and Dutch beef.

The Food Standards Agency is sending to the MHS and all local authorities details of the abattoirs that have breached the BSE controls.

The Meat Hygiene Service continues to monitor the volume of imports, and is increasing staffing levels where necessary.

Details in relation to this breach have been given to the Spanish Embassy in London, for forwarding to the relevant authorities in Spain.