Document Directory

22 Apr 01 - CJD - Imported cattle test negative for Mad Cow disease
22 Apr 01 - CJD - Researchers Designing BSE Test for Live Animals
22 Apr 01 - CJD - Mad Cow, Foot-And-Mouth Sicken Some Non-Food Markets
22 Apr 01 - CJD - Germans turn to Asian shrimp after BSE, FMD scares
22 Apr 01 - CJD - EU wants extension of Mad Cow meat product ban
22 Apr 01 - CJD - Rise in horse thefts linked to foot-and-mouth
19 Apr 01 - CJD - Blood rules to get tighter - Mad Cow disease fear cited
19 Apr 01 - CJD - McDonald's feels the bite
19 Apr 01 - CJD - New case in the Netherlands
19 Apr 01 - CJD - EC: Mad Cow warning is justified
19 Apr 01 - CJD - African antelopes linked to BSE
19 Apr 01 - CJD - New theory for origin of BSE
19 Apr 01 - CJD - Mad Cow disease - Government needs to act soon to prevent it here
19 Apr 01 - CJD - Brevard doctor: U.S. should prepare for 'Mad Cow' arrival
19 Apr 01 - CJD - Imported Antelope May Have Spread Mad Cow to UK
19 Apr 01 - CJD - BSE origins linked to antelope
19 Apr 01 - CJD - Experiments prove Mad Cow can cross to humans
19 Apr 01 - CJD - NRA statement on BSE
19 Apr 01 - CJD - Origins of BSE linked to African antelope
19 Apr 01 - CJD - Consumer groups say US 'Mad Cow' efforts lacking
19 Apr 01 - CJD - Avis alert as Americans steer clear
19 Apr 01 - CJD - Foot-and-mouth pyres stopped over health fears
19 Apr 01 - CJD - Safari Parks Clue To BSE
19 Apr 01 - CJD - Use germ war gear to test pyres, says expert
19 Apr 01 - CJD - 'Privatised' meat inspection warning
19 Apr 01 - CJD - BSE Hearing Highlights Preventive Measures By U.S.
19 Apr 01 - CJD - Meat recalled amid BSE fears



22 Apr 01 - CJD - Imported cattle test negative for Mad Cow disease

Staff Reporter

Amarillo Globe--Sunday 22 April 2001


COLLEGE STATION (AP) - Seventeen cows imported from Germany to Texas that were tested this month for Mad Cow disease and then destroyed as a precaution have tested negative for the disease.

"I'm relieved, as I think anybody who hears this is going to be," said Dr. Gary T. Svetlik, a veterinarian with the United States Department of Agriculture.

"There still are a few animals in other parts of the United States that have to be tested, but the more we test and the more that we can get negative results on, the more assurance we can have that we don't have any cases here," Svetlik said.

Mad Cow disease, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, has never been detected in U.S. cattle but has infected herds in Europe since the mid-1980s and been blamed for more than 80 human deaths in Britain. It attacks the brain and spinal cord.

Twenty-nine exotic and expensive cattle were imported to Texas from Germany in 1996 and 1997, before the disease was diagnosed in that country. Two weeks ago, 17 of them were brought to Texas A&M University's College of Veterinary Medicine to test for Mad Cow disease.

The testing procedure required the animals be euthanized and incinerated on campus. Their brain tissue was sent to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa. Eight of the cattle not tested at Texas A&M have since died from causes not related to the disease, and one was euthanized.

Three of the cattle still are alive in Texas. The owner of one has promised to relinquish it to authorities for testing soon. Negotiations have not begun with the owner of the other two, but he has offered to put them in extra isolation, Svetlik said.

Since 1989, the USDA has banned importation of cattle from countries where the disease has been detected and from countries that have feeding practices that put animals at risk for exposure.


22 Apr 01 - CJD - Researchers Designing BSE Test for Live Animals

Staff Reporter

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung--Sunday 22 April 2001


LINZ. Austrian researchers at Linz university have invented a revolutionary procedure that will allow officials to test living animals for the pathogen that causes mad-cow disease, a spokesman said on Friday. But they will need up to two years to develop the test for widespread use, Hans-Georg Schindler said. Currently, brain tissue from dead cows is tested to determine whether the animals had Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy. The crisis surrounding the disease has led to the slaughter of thousands of cattle. (dpa)


22 Apr 01 - CJD - Mad Cow, Foot-And-Mouth Sicken Some Non-Food Markets

By Hans Greimel, Associated Press

Chicago Tribune--Sunday 22 April 2001


FRANKFURT, Germany -- Fruit chews pulled from store shelves in Poland. Price hikes for Italian shoes and French handbags. Animal fat abandoned by global makers of face cream and soap.

Europe's effort to rein in its bout of livestock disease isn't just hammering world supplies of lamb chops and prime rib. It's starting to hit the 40 percent of a cow, pig or sheep that never makes it to a supermarket shelf.

Consumers around the world may soon develop a newfound appreciation for these uneaten animal parts, which are skinned, ground up or melted down into ingredients used every day in a dizzying array of goods.

With fewer animals slaughtered in Europe due to fears of eating meat, hide prices are soaring. Shoppers could pay more for this summer's lineup of items like leather furniture, high-end car seats, clothing and shoes.

Costs also are rising for tallow, or animal fat, which is used in candles, soap and beauty products--though consumer prices appear unaffected for now as manufacturers absorb higher costs or use substitute ingredients.

European suppliers, meanwhile, face millions of dollars in losses.

"Our byproduct industry has taken a hammering," said Martin Grantley-Smith at Britain's Meat and Livestock Commission. "In straight exports, Britain will be losing millions of dollars a year."

British slaughterhouses used to get $7.25 per ton of byproduct material from companies eager to turn it into usable products. But with a host of new restrictions against using those parts, slaughterhouses are now having to pay up to $130 a ton to have it hauled away.

Bans imposed by nations around the world because of Mad Cow and foot-and-mouth diseases have halted 94 percent of the European Union's beef exports and 73 percent of its pork exports. They also have slowed Europe's weekly livestock slaughter from a half-million head to 350,000 head, according to Hidenet.com, an Internet market report.

Restraints on using non-edible beef byproducts have been around since the Mad Cow outbreak in the mid-1990s. But a Mad Cow scare that peaked in the fall and the current foot-and-mouth crisis have led countries to fortify or extend those laws.

Europe is trying to halt the spread of foot-and-mouth disease, which unlike Mad Cow poses no human health threat, by incineration--hides, hooves, bones, fat and all.

Europe's mass culls have torpedoed the local supply of leather. Worldwide, the supply squeeze has pushed up cowhide prices 15 percent in the last two months, Hidenet.com reported.

The market claimed its first U.S. victim last month when Irving Tanning Co., a 390-employee firm in Hartland, Maine, filed for bankruptcy protection.

Irving Tanning doesn't buy European hides, but vice president Paul Larochelle said the company was pinched by a blitz of overseas demand for U.S. skins that pushed stateside prices up 66 percent.

"You can only absorb so much before you have to turn around and say, `Enough is enough,"' Larochelle said.

To counteract tight demand, the European Footwear Confederation has petitioned the European Union to order member countries to remove pelts and skins before animals are destroyed.

But what's a crisis to one region is often an opportunity to another.

Increased European demand for leather is fueling a mini-boom in Brazil, where ranchers are boosting their 2001 export forecast to $850 million from an earlier prediction of $750 million, says Jose Roberto Scarabel, president of the Brazilian Tannery Industries Center.

U.S. hide exports shot up 25 percent to $2 billion last year after the Mad Cow scare struck, according to Leather Industries of America, another trade group. And January exports were 12 percent ahead of last January's.

In other byproduct markets, the impact is less direct.

About 12 percent of an animal is usually ground down and melted to make tallow. The animal fat is widely used in consumer and industrial goods despite a shift to substitutes in the mid-1990s by makers of cosmetics and other products seeking to address health concerns raised in earlier Mad Cow scares.

But the current outbreak has forced countries such as Japan to institute full-fledged bans against animal products in such consumer goods.

That has ramifications in Europe for companies like Cognis, a Netherlands-based chemical company that makes raw ingredients for body care products as well as industrial lubricants.

Just a few years ago, it used animal tallow in nearly half of its cosmetics. Today, virtually none of its health-care line uses animal products, although tallow still accounts for 20 percent of its industrial chemicals.

Cognis calculates it costs 10 percent more to make vegetable-based products.


22 Apr 01 - CJD - Germans turn to Asian shrimp after BSE, FMD scares

by Paul Miller in Hamburg

News Asia--Sunday 22 April 2001


Worldwide sales of shrimp from Thailand and Malaysia have increased - and so have prices - in part because of fears about Mad Cow disease and foot-and-mouth disease.

One distributor said people were paying any price to get their hands on the seafood.

In Germany, the value of imports of Asian shrimp increased to US$23 million in 2000 - and that was before the discovery of cases of the Mad Cow disease in the country.

The Sala Thai restaurant in downtown Hamburg is one place Germans can sample Asian seafood, but it has plenty of company.

Dozens of new sushi restaurants have opened.

And traditional German restaurants are more likely to serve Thai shrimp or Malaysian prawns to customers who are looking for alternatives to beef or veal.

The scare over Mad Cow disease, or BSE, made many Germans change their eating habits.

Beef sales dropped by 90 percent.

Asian shrimp was one alternative Germans already knew.

Distributor Heinrich Hoeper of Delta Fisch says demand has been high for shrimp, which is considered modern and trendy, and combined with other ingredients in many dishes.

Another distributor says Germans would probably eat even more Asian shrimp if it were cheaper and fresh, not frozen.

Jan Lawrence, Standard Fleisch Co, said, "Shrimp have always been a luxury product in Germany. But certainly the demand was bigger after November. But the concern as well is fresh fish, not only frozen product. All the shrimp from Asia are normally coming to Germany on a frozen basis."

Even frozen, Thai shrimp was in enough demand worldwide that sales went up 63 percent in January to US$173 million.

Outbreaks of foot and mouth disease as well as the Mad Cow scare have pushed demand for seafood up even more.

The German panic over Mad Cow disease has died down.

But the search for alternatives to beef, which started with seafood, shrimp and ostrich, expanded to include kangaroo and even crocodile.

At Delta, boxes of Australian Kangaroo and crocodile tails are in cold storage next to the ostrich, waiting to be sent to restaurants and specialty supermarkets.

But this is not the case with traditional butcher shops, which have experimented with ostrich but little else.

Butcher Andreas Blei says his customers do not demand anything too exotic, especially now that they have started eating beef again.

Ostrich and niche products such as kangaroo still are on the menu in restaurants such as Zur Alten Muhle in Hamburg - along with Asian shrimp, of course.


22 Apr 01 - CJD - EU wants extension of Mad Cow meat product ban

Ananova

PA News--Sunday 22 April 2001


The European Commission wants to extend a ban on meat and bone meal in animal feed until at least the end of the year to prevent the spread of Mad Cow disease.

A panel of EU experts said it was too early to lift a six-month temporary ban on meat and bone meal, which may contain spinal cord, brain, eyes, tonsils or other cattle parts deemed to pose a high risk of harbouring Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy.

Bans which came into effect in January are to run out at the end of June.

"Based on the results of a series of inspection visits... to the member states on the implementation of BSE safety legislation and a first evaluation of the results of increased BSE testing, it is considered premature to lift the temporary ban," a statement said.

The EU's head office will propose instead the bans be extended until 2002, by which time the EU is expected to implement new food safety rules including limiting the use of animal by-products in animal feed.

Currently under EU rules, only a ban on meat and bone meal and other animal by-products exists for cattle feed. Other animals like pigs, poultry and fish are not yet included, but are under a temporary ban.


22 Apr 01 - CJD - Rise in horse thefts linked to foot-and-mouth

Ananova

PA News--Sunday 22 April 2001


US thieves are stealing horses to cash in on Europeans worried about tainted food.

Concerns about BSE and foot-and-mouth have increased consumption of horsemeat, especially in France, where it is a widely-accepted dish.

The price of horses has risen accordingly and in Texas the beasts are being stolen because of the high prices they bring.

Gary Potter of Texas University told USA Today: "There is little doubt price increases of as much as 30 cents a pound are due to the scare and the problems associated with the foot-and-mouth outbreak."

Rob Hosford, of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers' Association, said the thieves are so efficient the carcass has often left the country before the owner has reported the horse missing.


19 Apr 01 - CJD - Blood rules to get tighter - Mad Cow disease fear cited

Canadian Press

Canoe--Thursday 19 April 2001


Spend too many summers with relatives in England and you can't donate blood.

The Canadian Blood Services is now looking at turning away even more people because of fears over Mad Cow disease.

"I think it's fairly safe to assume that we are looking at some form of extension of the deferral policy that we currently have in place," Dr. Graham Sher said at a public board meeting of the blood service yesterday.

Sher, vice-president of medical, scientific and clinical management for the blood service, said it could also mean a departure from the current policy.

That policy focuses on two areas -- the United Kingdom and France -- where there have been confirmed cases of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human variant of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy or Mad Cow disease.

It's one option being considered in Canada and the United States.

In Canada, both the blood service and the federal government, which regulates how the service operates, are looking at the issue.

Sher said it makes sense to wait and see what Ottawa decides.

The CBS won't take blood from anyone who has spent more than six months over a 20-year period in the United Kingdom. Unlike the United States, which has a similar policy, the Canadian blood agency extends those restrictions to France as well, where Creutzfeldt-Jakob has also been found.

NO FIRM EVIDENCE

Sher said there is no firm evidence BSE or CJD can be transferred through blood transfusions, although experiments with sheep infected with scrapie, a similar disease, have suggested it may be possible.

Discussion of the issue was interrupted briefly when Theresa Ducharme, a well-known activist for the disabled in Winnipeg, addressed the board to plead for more help for hepatitis C victims.

Her husband was infected in 1993 during heart surgery, a year too early to qualify for compensation, she said. The board expressed its sympathy for her and her husband, but it has no role in the compensation process.


19 Apr 01 - CJD - McDonald's feels the bite

Reuters

YAHOO--Thursday 19 April 2001


Aggressive price promotions and new product launches have not been able to save McDonald's from European nerves over Mad Cow disease.

The world's largest burger chain said slow sales in Europe related to the general fear of contaminated beef contributed to a 16% first-quarter profit decline. Independentcome fell to $378.3 million (266 million) or 29 cents a share from $450.9 million a year earlier.

The figures were in line with drastically reduced estimates. The company report-ed a 7% decline in profits the previous quarter.


19 Apr 01 - CJD - New case in the Netherlands

Staff reporter

Our World--Thursday 19 April 2001


New BSE-case confirmed in the Netherlands in the Province of Gelderland, near the German border.

Cow was born 19 february 1992; had clinical signs, and was found positive after fast test and histopathology.

Cattle at same farm (25 bovines, 4 sheep, 3 goats) will be examined and culled.

It is the second clinical case this year, four cases were detected with the fast test (>30 months test) at slaughterhouse, one was confirmed in january after a random test at fallen stock in december last year.

Since 1997 15 Mad Cows were detected in the Netherlands.


19 Apr 01 - CJD - EC: Mad Cow warning is justified

By Kate Swoger

Prague Post--Thursday 19 April 2001


Czech officials, farmers question European organization's findings

Torsten Meunsch has a warning for the Czech Republic: Don't be smug about Mad Cow disease.

"I am German and I know what happened in Germany," said Meunsch, the European Commission spokesman, referring to the discovery of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in German herds in November.

The finding devastated beef prices and saw shocked officials scrambling to check herds for the insidious disease. "We said we had no BSE, that we didn't need testing and restrictions," Meunsch said. "My country had to learn a very bitter lesson."

Meunsch spoke after a new European Commission (EC) report, released April 2, placed the Czech Republic among nations where BSE is believed to be present in cattle, although no cases have been diagnosed.

"Even if there hasn't been a case yet, there is always a risk," Meunsch said.

BSE, or "Mad Cow" disease, first discovered in British cattle in 1984, has been linked to a variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans. There are 92 confirmed cases of the human braIndependentwasting disease in Europe.

Experts believe the feeding of animal products to cattle, which naturally graze, may spread BSE.

The EC Scientific Steering Committee noted that the Czech Republic imported "significant amounts of live cattle and meat-and-bone meal from European Union countries where the presence of BSE has since been confirmed."

The EC report has not been welcomed here. Farmers insist domestic cattle are BSE-free and Agriculture Minister Jan Fencl called on the EC to reassess Prague's risk rating.

Others question the study's methodology. Josef Duben, a spokesman for the State Veterinary Institute, said it was preposterous for the EC to put the Czech Republic in the same risk category as Switzerland, where 366 cases of BSE have been confirmed.

Mistaken confidence

Duben said that the EC assessment also failed to note that the disease had not been found in breeds imported to the Czech Republic from BSE-affected countries.

BSE has a latency period of up to a decade, so an infected animal may not show symptoms for years.

Prague banned beef imports from Britain and Switzerland in 1994, extending the ban to other Western European nations late last year.

The use of animal meal as feed was banned in then-Czechoslovakia in 1991.

But the EC report says cross-contamination of cattle feed with animal meal cannot be ruled out. Germany's confidence was rooted in a ban on animal products in cattle feed dating from 1993.

"We can understand [their worry that it will damage their reputation], but we have to put consumer safety first," the EC's Meunsch said.

That means the EC, the European Union's executive arm, must apply the same measures to non-EU members as it does to its own states.

The report means that Czechs will have to adjust the way they butcher cattle, cutting away meat near the spine, intestines, eyes and brain before export to the EU.

While Czech farmers called for financial compensation from the EU after the report was released, Meunsch said the expense would be negligible.

Since 1987, there have been more than 180,000 cases of BSE discovered in cattle in the EU. A few hundred other cases have been found in non-EU countries in Western Europe.

So far, the bulk of the BSE cases have been in Britain. Several hundred have occurred in France, Ireland and Portugal. To a lesser extent, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands also have been affected.

-- Martina Sedlakova contributed to this report.

Kate Swoger's e-mail address is kswoger@praguepost.cz


19 Apr 01 - CJD - African antelopes linked to BSE

Staff Reporter

ITN--Thursday 19 April 2001


"The wildlife hypothesis best fits the data." - Professor Roger Morris

New research suggests that the outbreak of BSE in Britain could be traced to a species of African antelope.

Professor Roger Morris, the head of a research team at a New Zealand university, said the most likely explanation for the introduction of the disease was that the BSE-infected antelope ended up in meal fed to British cattle in the 1970s.

The team used an advanced computer model to test possible theories to chart the spread of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy which ravaged the British beef industry in the 1990s.

Scientists believe imports of game to safari parks in the south west of England are to blame.

Prof Morris, of Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand, said: "I have some other hypotheses which are all wildlife origin theories and I have all of the steps in the infection process... and I know that for African antelope every step in the sequence could have occurred."

He said the evidence "very strongly favoured" the antelope theory.

The academic added: "The wildlife hypothesis best fits the data.

"It is something that needs to be checked out very carefully.

"The problem is that antelopes that suffered from this disease will rapidly get eaten by lions and hyenas so finding an antelope in the wild that has the disease would be a major challenge, a needle in the haystack kind of thing."

Hugh Pennington, a professor at Aberdeen University who has researched the disease, commented that "it's a very credible idea" but he had not seen details of Morris' research.

"The attractiveness of the theory is that at least in principle it is possible to prove it," Prof Pennington said.

"If you found an antelope with this disease in the wild, it would be possible to take the agent and compare it with BSE and similar disease."


19 Apr 01 - CJD - New theory for origin of BSE

Staff Reporter

ABC News Australia--Thursday 19 April 2001


A team of New Zealand scientists has come up with a new theory for the origin of Mad Cow disease....an imported African antelope.

The team led by Professor Roger Morris from Massey University, has spent the past five years researching a list of possible explanations for the outbreak of BSE in Britain.

The research also DISMISSES the widely-held theory, that Mad Cow originated in cattle that were fed sheep infected with the disease, scrapie.

Professor Morris says it's most likely an antelope infected with Mad Cow and imported by safari park owners, ended up being used in meat and bone meal fed to dairy cattle.

Professor Morris: I've put together evidence by checking with people in the UK and making a lot of enquiries that show that antelopes arrived from Africa at the right time, and that they could have got into meat and bone meal by a sequence of steps. What I don't know and can't prove is that one of those animals had BSE or its equivalent in the antelope. So it's a hypothesis to be tested, it's not definitive and I have a number of other hypotheses also to be tested.


19 Apr 01 - CJD - Mad Cow disease - Government needs to act soon to prevent it here

By Ralph Nader

San Francisco Bay Guardian--Thursday 19 April 2001


Is Mad Cow disease just a European phenomena or is it something that should trigger a significant upgrading of U.S. public health efforts?

It is true that, so far, the U.S. has escaped the Mad Cow epidemic and its human counterpart, variant Cruetzfeldt-Jacob disease (CJD). But is this the result of vigilance by our public health forces, or is it just good luck that the disease has not slipped through our defenses?

Testifying before the Senate Commerce Committee in early April, Dr. Peter Lurie, deputy director of Public Citizen's Health Research Group, made it clear we have no reason to be complacent or to think that Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (better known as Mad Cow disease) is strictly a European problem. As Dr. Lurie said, the disease has often found "a way to pierce small chinks in the public health armor." And there are plenty of chinks - or perhaps full-scale gaps - in the health defenses of the United States.

Pointing out that U.S. customs inspectors already face extremely heavy workloads from the dramatic increase in global trade, Dr. Lurie said there were serious concerns that these inspectors can adequately police the borders for shipments of animal products that might carry Mad Cow disease. Even with the best customs inspections, the transhipments between countries can make it extremely difficult to determine the origin of meat and bone meal.

Deregulation of the dietary supplements industry in 1994 ripped another hole in our public health defenses, an action which now seems particularly foolhardy in the face of Mad Cow disease. Before the deregulation measure - Dietary Supplement, Health, and Education Act (DSHEA) - was enacted the industry had the burden of demonstrating the safety of its products. But the Act reversed the burden, requiring that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) show that the product was unsafe before it can take action. Seven years later the FDA still has not adopted final regulations under DSHEA, but it has issued an "Import Alert" for dietary materials coming from countries with known Mad Cow disease, but compliance is voluntary.

How serious is this bit of deregulation? Here's what Dr. Lurie told the Senators:"For BSE (Mad Cow disease), this means that an unscrupulous manufacturer could literally take a British cow brain, crush it, dry it out, formulate it into a dietary supplement and export it to the U.S."

Since 1997 the FDA has banned the feeding of mammalian parts to ruminants (cows, goats, and sheep), the main route by which the Mad Cow epidemic occurred in Britain. The FDA also prohibited the commingling of feed intended for ruminants and nonruminants (such as pigs, fish, and chickens), but Dr. Lurie found that some renderers and feed mills did not have adequate measures to prevent the commingling, and many others had yet to be inspected for compliance.

Dr. Lurie called for the end of an FDA exemption which allows the feeding of so-called plate waste (leftover food that has been prepared for or served to humans) to cows and other ruminants. He notes that the European Union, Canada, and Mexico have banned such practices.

Dr. Lurie also wants changes in the way meat is processed to avoid infectious materials from the brain and spinal cord spreading to other parts of the animal. European countries require that the brain and spinal cord be removed before processing other parts of the animal, but Dr. Lurie said slaughtering processes in the U.S. vary widely and are not effectively regulated.

In blunt language, Dr. Lurie made it clear to the Commerce Committee that U.S. surveillance efforts to detect Mad Cow disease and its human counterpart have been inadequate. He noted that only 11,954 brains of the 40 million cows slaughtered in the U.S. had been examined in the ten-year period ending in 2000. In comparison, France is now testing 20,000 brains per week.

Dr. Lurie wants preventative measures activated including the restriction of blood donations from those with extensive histories of residence in countries with high incidence of Mad Cow. He calls for similar restrictions for cornea donors and wants regulations promulgated to prevent sourcing of materials for the production of vaccines from Mad Cow disease-affected countries. He also urges the federal government to establish a network of regional pathology centers to do brain examinations for human CJD.

In 1997 Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber published a warning that Lurie's testimony now echoes. Their book, Mad Cow USA: Could the Nightmare Happen Here? (Common Courage Press), described how corporate agribusiness was putting American consumers at risk of contracting CJD. They've now made the contents of the book available online for free.

We need tough action soon if we are to prevent Europe's experience from repeating itself in the U.S. We need to make certain that inspection is increased at the border and that the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration have the authority to issue mandatory regulations to ensure the safety of our food supply.

This may mean that the Bush Administration's aversion to regulation will have to give way to the health of citizens. However, the President, I believe, can find safe food and the prevention of disease to be consistent with his campaign pledge to be both compassionate and conservative.


19 Apr 01 - CJD - Brevard doctor: U.S. should prepare for 'Mad Cow' arrival

By Susan Jenks

Florida Today--Thursday 19 April 2001


Federal agencies have stepped up inspections of cows and the feed industry nationwide, amid growing fears that the Mad Cow disease found in Europe will spread to the United States. Humans eating meat from infected cows can contract a disease that is always fatal.

So far, the problem has been confined mostly to England. There have been no confirmed cases in the United States of either Mad Cow disease in cattle or of its human counterpart, a new form of an old illness called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Even so, Rockledge neurologist Dr. Richard Newman and others think, it may be only a matter of time before the disease makes its way here from Europe, where it first erupted in 1996.

Indeed, Newman might have seen one local patient with the new form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease about a year ago. However, "her case was not clearly positive," he said. It was one of dozens of suspicious cases in the United States.

The otherwise-healthy 52-year-old woman suddenly developed suspicious neurological symptoms: rapidly progressive dementia, blindness and an early loss of motor control. She died in less than a year. She had no known exposure to contaminated meat from abroad, Newman said.

Humans get the disease by eating meat from infected cattle that were either slaughtered using processes that mix brain or spinal-cord tissue with meat, or fed rendered animal byproducts that included diseased brain or spinal-cord tissues.

To get a certain diagnosis of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease requires a brain biopsy or an examination of the brain at autopsy. The patient had a brain biopsy, Newman said, but the results were inconclusive. No autopsy was performed because doctors were unable to get consent from next of kin, so no firm diagnosis was established.

The grim expectation that the disease may eventually show up in the United States is based on two realities:

The uncertain incubation period of Creutzfeldt-Jakob, which scientists say may be as long as 20 years. With that many years between exposure to Mad Cow and the incidence of illness, it is extremely hard to trace the source of exposure.

The large number of farmers, ranchers, feed producers, meat packers and others who are involved in the meat industry.

"One way or the other, a case may break through," said Dr. Richard Johnson, chairman of the neurology department and a Mad Cow disease expert at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

Diagnosing and tracking the disease is made more difficult by the fact that there are two forms of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The classic form, described in the 1920s, and not associated with Mad Cow, is extremely rare, striking only one in 1 million people.

The new form of the disease is the one associated with Mad Cow disease. That version is even more rare than the classic form, with 99 cases since 1996.

To put it in perspective, Johnson said, consider there are at least a half-million deaths in the United States from food-borne illnesses. For greatest safety on a statistical basis, "you would have to give up all your other foods, like chicken and shellfish first, before beef," he said.

A cattle state

In Florida, which ranks No. 12 among the nation's beef-producing states, Mad Cow disease is viewed as a distant threat to the state's estimated 1.8 million cattle.

At Duda & Sons in Oviedo, for example, David Willis, vice president of the cattle division, said only beef cows are raised, not dairy cows - an important distinction in terms of Mad Cow disease. In general, because dairy cows fatten more slowly, they are allowed to live longer than beef cattle, giving the disease more time to incubate.

Also, Duda, the largest cattle breeder in this part of the state, does not import cattle from Europe, Willis said. The risk of Mad Cow disease can be reduced by not importing cattle from Europe - a government policy in effect since 1989 - and by banning the importation of potentially contaminated feed, a restriction in effect for several years.

In addition to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration focusing on inspecting of cows and the feed industry, the Agriculture Department seized and destroyed several flocks of sheep in Vermont last month, fearing they might harbor an illness related to Mad Cow.

Mad Cow disease and scrapie, the name for a like disease in sheep, belong to a group of disorders called transmissible spongiform encephalopathy. While Mad Cow disease can spread to humans, the disease in sheep has never been linked to human disease.

Transmissible spongiform disorders are so named because they literally turn the brain to sponge. On autopsy, Johnson said, "you can actually see tiny holes in the neurons or nerve cells in the brain."

It is thought that the disease first spread from sheep to cows in the early 1980s, when British cattle were fed infected sheep parts.

Damage to the brain results when the disease causes a special protein called a prion to form plaques in the brain and spinal cord.

"All the other organs are normal," Johnson said.

99 European cases

The first evidence that the disease affecting cows - Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy - in the United Kingdom had spilled over into humans came in March 1996, when British doctors reported the first 10 human cases.

Since then, there have been 99 confirmed or suspected cases of the related human disease or new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob - all in Europe, and all but four cases in the United Kingdom, according to the European Commission on Food Safety.

In the United States, there have been "dozens of suspected cases" similar to that seen by Newman, but none has been confirmed, said Tom Skinner, a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

"Any time there's a case in a person under age 55, we take a look," he said. Autopsy samples of brain tissue are taken from the infected individual and sent to a neuropathologist who is under contract with the federal agency.

All of them have turned out to be the classic form of the disease, in which heredity plays a role in about 10 percent of patients and the rest have no known infectious source and no evidence of a genetic link.

Dr. Thomas Hoffman, a neurologist at Osler Medical in Melbourne, said he has seen several patients in his practice with the classic, or original form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob, but no clear cause was determined for any of the cases.

The form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob associated with Mad Cow disease differs from its older counterpart in several ways.

While patients with the older version are typically in their 60s or older, the median age of patients who contract the newer illness is 28, and they develop not only dementia, but suffer delusions as well.

In addition, there may be a burning sensation in the extremities, pain and an early loss of motor control, Johnson said.

The course of disease is different as well. There is a different pattern of abnormal protein deposits in the brain, which is clear-cut on autopsy, the only definitive way to distinguish the new from the old form of the disease, Johnson said.

No matter which type of disease develops, though, the onset of dementia is rapid and so is death.

For now, at least, experts agree that in the United States, the Mad Cow risk remains relatively small.

"The way we handle meat products is much different than in Europe," Hoffman said. Investigators say the old-fashioned technique used in some areas of Europe allowed cow brains or spinal cord to mix in with the rest of the cow, contributing to the outbreak of disease there.

Still, concerns remain.

Newman, whose daughter is going to Europe this summer, said he has forbidden her to eat any beef or beef products.

"It's OK for her to eat chicken and fish," he said. "No one gets the disease" from them.


19 Apr 01 - CJD - Imported Antelope May Have Spread Mad Cow to UK

By Karen Matusic

YAHOO--Thursday 19 April 2001


LONDON (Reuters) - Mad Cow disease was probably spread to Britain by an infected antelope, a New Zealand scientist said on Wednesday, which means that an epidemic could still break out in other countries despite current restrictions.

Roger Morris, a professor of animal health at Massey University in Palmerston North, New Zealand, told Reuters that the affected animal was probably imported in the mid-1970s by a safari park in southwest England.

He said that it made its way into the food chain when it was ground up for meat-and-bone meal and fed to a herd of cattle that were later infected and ground up for feed themselves.

``There is a danger here that an epidemic may break out in other countries despite the British restrictions. There is quite a movement of wildlife around the world,'' Massey said in a telephone interview.

Formally known as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), Mad Cow disease first swept through British herds in the 1980s, resulting in the slaughter and burning of millions of animals and sparking a health scare when a fatal human form of the illness was detected.

Official data show that 90 people in Britain and two in France have died or are believed to have died from new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), the human form of Mad Cow disease for which there is no known cure. The human form of the illness leads to the gradual loss of coordination and speech and ultimately death.

Though some researchers suggest that BSE was spread through genetic mutation or from animal feed made from the remains of sheep infected by a similar disease called scrapie, Morris said he was ``almost certain'' it was spread by wild game.

``I am examining 30-35 possible explanations for BSE for a paper I am writing. Of all the explanations, I believe with almost certainty that wildlife contaminated with the disease, probably the antelope, made its way into the meat-and-bone meal and was eaten by cattle and spread that way.''

He said lions, which eat antelope, are also susceptible to the disease. Earlier this year, an autopsy on a lion that died in the Newquay Zoo in southwest England found the animal had feline spongiform encephalopathy. Zoo officials believe the lion was stricken after eating the brains and spines of BSE-infected cattle.

A six-month European Union (EU) ban on meat-and-bone meal in animal feeds expires on June 30.


19 Apr 01 - CJD - BSE origins linked to antelope

Reuters

YAHOO--Thursday 19 April 2001


Researchers from the other side of the world have identified what they say is the most likely cause of BSE in Britain.

Early results of tests carried out by scientists in New Zealand suggest BSE - or Mad Cow disease - did not come from scrapie-infected sheep or genetic mutation as commonly thought.

Instead they said the most likely source of infection came from antelope imported into south-west England in the 1970s.

The animals, which went to UK safari parks, suffered from a similar degenerative disease.

The New Zealand experts said the remains of these animals must have been used at some point in feed which was then given to cattle.

BSE is the cattle equivalent of variant CJD (Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease) which is fatal in humans.

It is vCJD can be contracted by eating meat contaminated with BSE, but the link has not been categorically proven.

According to latest figures, 90 people have died in the UK from definite or probable vCJD.

Another seven people are believed to be living with the disease.

Scandal

In the wake of the Phillips report into the handling of the BSE crisis, ministers pledged to do all in their power to prevent a repeat of the scandal.

Agriculture Minister Nick Brown acknowledged that the inquiry into the outbreak had identified "serious shortcomings" in the handling of the affair by previous Conservative governments.

Lord Phillips' 16-volume report, published last October, criticised ministers and civil servants for failing to be open about the possibility of BSE spreading to humans.

CJD cluster

In March experts blamed traditional butchery practices as the most likely cause of Britain's first vCJD cluster in Leicestershire.

The Department of Health pledged to examine the findings of the report into the deaths of five young people in the village of Queniborough from vCJD.

The inquiry team, from Leicestershire Health Authority, believe the infection that caused the Queniborough outbreak could have been spread from high-risk brain tissue to cuts intended for human consumption via butchers' hands or knives.


19 Apr 01 - CJD - Experiments prove Mad Cow can cross to humans

By Susan Jenks

Florida Today--Thursday 19 April 2001


The proof that the disease known as Mad Cow disease could cross over into humans came through laboratory experiments with inbred mice, experts say.

After recovering prions -- proteins thought to be the infectious agents -- from an infected individual on autopsy, and then injecting them into mice, scientists found the mice developed their own version of Mad Cow disease.

That led many scientists to think humans, too, could develop a new form of an old illness called Cruetzfeldt-Jakob disease.

But some species seem immune, which is why, so far, there is no Mad Cow, or transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, in, for example, chickens and fish. Or in dogs.

Dr. Richard Johnson, chairman of the neurology department and a Mad Cow disease expert at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, said that, even though the byproducts of infected cows -- notably the brains and spine -- went into pet food in England, only the cats developed the disease.

"The dogs did not," he said.

Other risk, although still theoretical, include vaccines in which blood serum from cows is used, or the gel in gel capsules. Natural gelatin is made from boiling down cow parts.

But blood transmission of Mad Cow disease seems doubtful, Johnson said.

He pointed to hemophiliacs, whose blood disease makes them dependent on blood products for survival.

There is not a single case of new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which is the one related to Mad Cow, among them, he said.

However, in early April, a team of British and French scientists said that monkeys can contract Mad Cow disease if it is injected directly into their bloodstream.

The scientists, who published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, said it was the first time Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy has been 'passed between primates via blood.'

There also have been several cases of the non-cow-related form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in the United States as a result of contaminiation with surgical instruments used during brain surgery.

And donor organs have posed problems as well.

Two reported cases involved transplants of corneas, during which surgeons came into contact with the nerve tissue of infected individuals.


19 Apr 01 - CJD - NRA statement on BSE

Staff Reporter

Food Service Central--Thursday 19 April 2001


4/16/2001 The National Restaurant Association hosted a meeting in Washington, DC on April 11 during which its members discussed BSE-prevention initiatives first-hand with officials from USDA and FDA, supplier groups and other scientific experts. This formal meeting adds to the Association's longstanding and ongoing involvement in BSE-prevention issues.

The Association intends to communicate aggressively that the United States food supply is the safest in the world. Strict BSE-prevention measures in the U.S., the scientific facts of BSE, and the government's and food industry's commitment to ongoing vigilance justify strong confidence in this fact.

Because restaurants buy the food that will provide 54 billion meals in 2001, and the nature of BSE requires that prevention measures occur before food is purchased for sale in restaurants, restaurants in many ways are consumers when it comes to this issue. At the same time, restaurants are committed to ensuring the food they serve to the public is safe. The restaurant industry takes confidence in the facts about BSE prevention in the United States, including:

- No cases of BSE have ever been identified in the U.S.

- The U.S. has strict standards to prevent BSE from ever entering the country, and to stop it if it did.

- Even in countries that have cases of BSE, it is extremely unlikely to obtain the human disease similar to BSE (new variant Creutzfeltd-Jakob Disease, or vCJD).

- The BSE disease agent has never been found in cattle muscle meat in any country. In countries with BSE, the disease agent may be found in cattle central nervous system tissue like brain and spinal cord.

As an industry that relies upon serving safe food to its customers, the restaurant industry advocates the maintenance of, and compliance with, strict prevention measures. It takes seriously the public's perception of the integrity of these strict measures, as well as the critical importance of communicating scientific facts about BSE. During yesterday's meeting, restaurateurs received assurances from USDA and FDA, suppliers and scientific experts that these communities are committed to BSE prevention and education. As a leader in food safety, the restaurant industry will remain vigilant in ensuring the public's confidence in the safest food supply in the world.

SOURCE: National Restaurant Organization


19 Apr 01 - CJD - Origins of BSE linked to African antelope

Ananova

PA News--Thursday 19 April 2001


Researchers say Mad Cow disease can be traced to a species of African antelope.

Professor Roger Morris says the most likely explanation for CJD in Britain is that the BSE-infected antelope were fed to British cattle in the 1970s.

The team used an advanced computer model to test possible theories to chart the spread of the disease which ravaged the British beef industry in the 1990s.

Scientists believe imports of game to safari parks in the south west of England are to blame.

Prof Morris, of Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand, has told the BBC: "I have some other hypotheses which are all wildlife origin theories and I have all of the steps in the infection process... and I know that for African antelope every step in the sequence could have occurred."

He says the evidence "very strongly favoured" the antelope theory.

The academic added: "The wildlife hypothesis best fits the data. It is something that needs to be checked out very carefully.

"The problem is that antelopes that suffered from this disease will rapidly get eaten by lions and hyenas so finding an antelope in the wild that has the disease would be a major challenge, a needle in the haystack kind of thing."


19 Apr 01 - CJD - Consumer groups say US 'Mad Cow' efforts lacking

By Todd Zwillich

Fitness News--Thursday 19 April 2001


WASHINGTON, Apr 17 (Reuters Health) - Consumer groups on Monday repeated their calls on the federal government to step up enforcement efforts that many say are not strong enough to keep Mad Cow disease out of the United States.

No cases of Mad Cow disease--also known as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE)--have ever been reported in the US. Federal officials responsible for inspecting livestock and monitoring the food supply are confident their efforts will keep the braIndependentwasting illness out of the nation's meat supply.

Still, consumer groups speaking Monday at a Food and Drug Administration forum on BSE worried that government bans and inspection efforts have too many holes to remain effective.

FDA in 1997 banned the manufacture and use of cattle feed containing tissue from other cows or sheep. Such feeds are widely blamed for helping spread the BSE epidemic that decimated Europe's beef industry in the 1990s. But federal regulations exempt pigs from the animal feed ban because scientists believe that BSE-like diseases do not occur in pigs.

Groups called on FDA to expand regulations to ban all mammal proteins from all commercial animal feeds.

"It is perfectly acceptable to feed cattle protein to swine and to feed swine protein back to cattle," warned Jean Halloran, director of the Consumer Policy Institute at the Consumers Union. Recent studies have suggested that pigs, like cows, sheep, elk, deer, and other mammals, may be vulnerable to transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, she said.

Feed producers, shippers, or farmers may also unintentionally mix pig or chicken feed containing cow protein with cattle feed when they store or haul the products, added Richard Wood, the executive director of the Food Animal Concerns Trust. "The complete segregation of feeds must be the only allowable process," he said.

Stephen Sundlof, who directs FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine, said that the agency was in the process of reviewing its rules on animal feeds. "We could potentially change our position" on allowing cattle proteins to remain in swine and chicken feeds, he said.

But the agency is still having trouble keeping up with inspections of feed mills and food. President Bush's Fiscal 2002 budget included a request for $15 million in additional funds for FDA, $10 million of which is targeted toward improved inspections.

FDA officials presented data showing that import entries of food have quadrupled since 1992 while the number of inspection personnel has remained relatively unchanged at around 640 persons. The agency has only managed to visit 80% of the rendering plants and cattle feed manufacturing facilities it set out to inspect in 1998. The figures raised the question of whether federal officials have enough money to adequately police imported food and cattle feed.

"We'd say right now that we don't," Sundlof said in an interview.

The additional money in the budget request is not enough to ensure that cow proteins stay out of cattle feed, said Dr. Peter Lurie, deputy director Public Citizen's Health Research Group. "It's a start, but FDA is only inspecting an estimated 1% of all items coming into this country," he said.


19 Apr 01 - CJD - Avis alert as Americans steer clear

By Jim Armitage

YAHOO--Thursday 19 April 2001


Car hire group Avis Europe (LSE: AVE.L - news) today warned that the foot-and-mouth epidemic may hit profits as American tourists steer clear of British shores.

Daunted by TV images of burning pyres and confused by the difference between BSE and foot-and-mouth, many Americans have been staying at home or choosing other holiday destinations.

Avis chief executive Mark McCafferty said: 'We're still analysing our Easter figures. So far it looks as though it was OK but not particularly good.'

If Americans head for other parts of Europe, the impact on Avis will be reduced as it has a heavy presence on the Continent. Only 20% of the group's revenues come from Britain, around 60% of which is from British drivers.

'It is early days yet, but when you couple it with the US economy's slowdown, we thought we should express caution,' said McCafferty. The shares tumbled 17p to 136p, their lowest for more than a year, despite Avis's assurances that the first quarter of the year had been satisfactory.

Away from Britain, Avis said its large German business was suffering from above-average costs on its fleet and weak demand for replacement vehicles, while the slowdown in European growth was leading to 'somewhat lower' volume improvement this year.

Overall, growth would be modest for the full year, it predicted.

Today's caution followed appalling full-year profit figures from German rival Sixt that missed forecasts by a third. It too blamed high fleet costs and suffered massive falls in its share price.


19 Apr 01 - CJD - Foot-and-mouth pyres stopped over health fears

Ananova

PA News--Thursday 19 April 2001


Health chiefs in the area worst hit by foot-and-mouth disease have called a halt on the use of pyres to burn thousands of animal carcasses.

The move comes amid fears that the smoke might affect the health of people living downwind.

The Ministry of Agriculture (Maff) has agreed to stop incineration until a national assessment of the health risks is completed.

Meanwhile, the prospects of a swift move to vaccination in the fight against the disease appeared to be receding.

Farmers' leaders say it may be a fortnight before they are ready to offer their support for the jabs.

The Government wants to inoculate hundreds of thousands of cattle in Cumbria, and possibly Devon, before they are put out to pasture over the next few weeks.

But after lengthy talks with Government scientists today, National Farmers' Union leader Ben Gill said there were still "major issues" of disagreement.

The food industry has also expressed concern over vaccination, which it says may affect consumer perceptions of British produce and invite further export restrictions.

A spokesman for the Food and Drink Federation said: "Vaccination should be deployed only as the last resort, if Government experts believe it to be the only way to get the disease quickly under control. "

Nestle, which buys much of the milk produced in Cumbria for export as milk powder, pledged its support to local farmers, but said that a vaccination policy would almost certainly harm the company.


19 Apr 01 - CJD - Safari Parks Clue To BSE

Reuters

YAHOO--Thursday 19 April 2001


Infected

Scientists believe the disease, linked to vCJD in humans, may have arrived in a wild animal brought to a safari park in the south west of England.

Professor Roger Morris, the head of a research team at a New Zealand's Massey University, believes a BSE infected antelope probably ended up in feed for British cattle in the 1970s.

He said his findings mean the disease could still break out in other countries despite restrictions. "There is quite a movement of wildlife around the world," he said.

Evidence

Prof Morris said: "I have some other hypotheses which are all wildlife origin theories and I have all of the steps in the infection process... and I know that for African antelope every step in the sequence could have occurred."

He said the evidence weighed very strongly in favour of the antelope theory. He dismissed suggestions that BSE was a genetic mutation or caused by animal feed made from scrapie infected sheep.

But he also admitted that his theory will be difficult to prove: "The problem is that antelopes that suffered from this disease will rapidly get eaten by lions and hyenas so finding an antelope in the wild that has the disease would be a major challenge, a needle in the haystack kind of thing."

BSE first swept Britain in the 1980s, leading to the slaughter of millions of animals. The human form of the disease, vCJD, has killed 90 people in Britain and two in France.


19 Apr 01 - CJD - Use germ war gear to test pyres, says expert

By Charles Clover and Sandra Barwick

Telegraph--Thursday 19 April 2001


Britain should use its germ war defence equipment to check if pyres are transmitting the virus to new sites, an expert on foot and mouth said.

Smoke could explain the unusual way the outbreak had spread, said Prof Fred Brown, former deputy director of the ministry's animal disease research unit and now working at America's research centre into foot and mouth disease.

Government scientists have admitted that no air sampling has been performed round pyres despite reports from farmers that infections appear to follow their smoke. Dr Brown said scientists had debated for decades whether pyres could spread the disease without sufficient evidence but modern technology could now provide the answer.

He said: "Huge volumes of air downwind could be sampled in the 'collectors' which the Defence Ministry, like its American counterpart, has and checked for the presence of the virus." The National Society for Clean Air and Environmental Protection has also said it would like to see direct monitoring of pyre plumes to assess the risk not only from the virus but also from dioxins and other pollutants.

Tim Brown, deputy secretary said: "Foot and mouth burning is on course to be the biggest single source of dioxin emissions in Britain." Anthony Burgess, visiting professor of combustion science at University College London, has called for urgent tests on an actual pyre.

The risk is that infectious material could be sent into upward hot air currents when carcasses explode in the heat of the fire. David Maclean, MP for Penrith and the Border, said: "We have reasonably good evidence that today's pyre is a foot and mouth outbreak downwind in 10 days' time."

The report into the 1967 outbreak recommended burying rather than burning because of the possibility of spreading the virus by thermal air currents. People in north Devon demonstrated yesterday against plans to burn 15,000 carcasses at South Arscott, a mile from the town of Holsworthy.

Richard Lawson, a GP and foot and mouth co-ordinator for the Green Party, from North Somerset, told 800 demonstrators that there was a definite health risk. Using ministry figures, he calculated that between six and 30 doses of CJD or BSE are released for every 100 beef cattle over the age of five years burned on pyres.


19 Apr 01 - CJD - 'Privatised' meat inspection warning

Staff Reporter

BBC--Thursday 19 April 2001


Plans to allow greater self-regulation in abattoirs are criticised

The Scottish National Party (SNP) has warned against what it says are plans to privatise meat inspection. The SNP says changes in the inspection system now being discussed in Europe - with the support of the UK Government - amount to privatisation.

The party has put down a motion at the Scottish Parliament saying the moves would be a recipe for disaster and would further undermine the public's confidence in food production.

The SNP's deputy health spokeswomen Shona Robison says privatising meat inspection would "inevitably lead to a conflict between safety and profit".

It is clear that the privatisation of meat inspections will further damage public confidence in the food they eat.

She said: "In Australia, meat-related food-borne illness has been steadily increasing since meat inspection was privatised in 1994.

"Public confidence in food production in this country has already declined since the BSE and E.coli crises.

"It is clear that the privatisation of meat inspections will further damage public confidence in the food they eat."

Ms Robison added: "The SNP believes that the protection of public health should not be privatised. The government and the Food Standards Agency must think again about supporting such proposals."

Self-regulation

Ms Robison's motion in the Scottish Parliament is supported by the public service union Unison which has 200 members employed in Scotland's 41 abattoirs.

It says the recent experience at the abattoir in Essex - where the foot-and-mouth outbreak was discovered - had shown the need for an even stricter government-run meat inspection service.

It says self-regulation will not work.

The government's Food Standards Agency says it has no plans to privatise the service.

The new hazard analysis system of meat inspection, being discussed in Brussels, it says, is simply a way of modernising the process and would reduce the risk of infection.

Hygiene standards

The Food Standards Agency says it fully supports independent enforcement of the regulation on meat hygiene.

But it says meat inspection needs to be modernised and discussions on this are underway in Europe.

The Agency claims it would not support any change to the meat inspection system that might be detrimental to public health.

And it will consult widely with all stakeholders during discussions on this over the next few months, so that new legislation will provide a system ensuring the safety of meat.

Final decisions will be for ministers and the FSA will advise the UK government and Scottish Ministers at appropriate stages

Cost of inspections

The Agency said it had no plans for relaxing the BSE controls, or altering the vital role played by the Meat Hygiene Service.

Unison says the plan amounts to privatisation and will mean a drop in hygiene standards.

The Association of Meat Inspectors shares Unison's view, saying the slaughter companies have long felt the cost of inspections was too high.

Leaving the inspections to them, it argues, would lower standards.

The association also believes the changes are being considered "quietly" by government without enough public debate.


19 Apr 01 - CJD - BSE Hearing Highlights Preventive Measures By U.S.

Staff Reporter

National Restaurant Organisation--Thursday 19 April 2001


April 16, 2001 - A U.S. Senate subcommittee held a hearing April 4 on the adequacy of measures that have been taken to prevent Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in the United States. Virtually all of the witnesses and senators present at the hearing reaffirmed that there are no known cases of BSE in America, crediting that to the cooperation between government and industry in implementing an aggressive strategy over the course of many years. "It was a positive forum that focused on education and constructive testimony, not sensationalism," says National Restaurant Association Legislative Representative Gay Westbrook.


19 Apr 01 - CJD - Meat recalled amid BSE fears

Staff Reporter

BBC--Thursday 19 April 2001


There are fears meat from a calf born to a cow infected with BSE may have entered the food chain via a Scottish abattoir.

The Scottish arm of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has recalled the meat, but said there was a minimal risk to human health.

The potentially infected animal was identified too late and the kidneys of the calf, from an English herd, may have entered the food chain .

Scottish National Party MSP Fergus Ewing has criticised the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food over the time it took to alert the FSA in Scotland.

He said he will be raising the issue in the Scottish Parliament.

The Food Standards Agency recalled the meat from the calf as a precautionary measure, but said it was told too late to recall the entire carcass.

The FSA said that, although the rest of the animal has not reached retailers, there is a 50% chance that the kidneys have got into the food chain.

The agency insists the risk to human health is minimal and the calf did pass other safety measures.

However, its mother was diagnosed with BSE in England three weeks before the calf was slaughtered in a Scottish abattoir.

'Precautionary measure'

The FSA said it will be asking the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food why there was a delay.

MAFF said it diagnosed the mother on 18 December and then tried to find any offspring.

Because the animal had changed hands, the calf was not traced until 10 January - two days after it had been slaughtered.

A spokesman for MAFF said that three weeks was not an extraordinary amount of time to trace the calf, and that there had been no problem with procedures.

FSA director Dr George Paterson said: "The actions we have taken with the full co-operation with the abattoir owners are purely precautionary.

"The carcass was processed according to the BSE controls which involve the removal of specified risk material - those parts most likely to contain BSE infectivity."

He added that the calf was under 30 months old, meaning the risk to human health was "minimal".

And he told BBC Scotland: "There has never been any BSE found in bovine kidneys."

Mr Ewing said he would raise the issue in the Scottish Parliament at the first opportunity.

"There should be an immediate independent inquiry into what appears to be chilling incompetence by the London-based Ministry of Agriculture," he said.

"It seems that, once again, MAFF have kept Scotland in the dark, as they did in relation to GM crops."