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Ban on bull semen, embryos
Open season on squirrels
Baby squirrels dying from tremors
Animal-derived proteins banned in dairy feeds
European Ban May Hurt U.S. Exports

Ban on bull semen

Mon, Sep 8, 1997  Reuters Ltd.
BRUSSELS - A European Union scientific advisory committee said on Monday that trade in bull semen should be stopped if the donors cannot be certified free of mad cow disease.

The Multi-disciplinary Scientific Committee also said products derived from tallow must be made according to specific manufacturing methods to avoid spreading the fatal brain disease, also known as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), to humans.

The committee, whose opinion will now be considered by the European Commission, did not address the question of whether the United States should be exempted from EU rules banning tallow derivatives, used in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, unless they are free of cattle parts that are most likely to transmit BSE. Washington has threatened to take the EU to the World Trade Organisation over the rules, which take effect next January.

The committee said in a document released to reporters that the possibility of transmission of BSE by semen has not been proven, but that in the absense of proper studies "such a possibility cannot, however, be excluded with certainty either."

It said BSE can, however, be transmitted from mother to calf and that transmission by embryo was a "definite probability."

"Therefore, in order to avoid further spreading BSE to hitherto unaffected herds or countries, the freedom of both paternal and maternal donors of germ cells from this disease must be ascertained. Could such an assurance not be obtained, the trade in semen and embryos cannot be recommended."
European Commission officials have said that the EU might reimpose a ban on British exports of bull semen as a precautionary measure. Semen is now exempt from the EU's worldwide ban on British beef exports imposed last year after London said it was possible the BSE could be passed to humans eating infected beef.

The committee said products derived from tallow must be made according to the "appropriate, validated and scientifically most up-to-date methods," citing manufacturing processes outlined earlier by the EU's cosmetics committee. If the Commission follows the new opinion, it could actually relax legislation that now bans the use of tallow in cosmetics altogether, an EU source said. He said the Commission would consider the committee's opinion soon, but had not yet set a date for doing so.

Squirrel Brains May Be Unsafe

AP Online Mon, 8 Sep 1997 By CHARLES WOLFE
FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Squirrel brains are a lip-smacking memory for Janet Norris Gates. They were the choicest morsels of the game her father once hunted in Tennessee.
"In our family, we saw it as a prized piece of meat, and if he shared it with you, you were pretty happy. Not that he was stingy," said Mrs. Gates, an oral historian in Frankfort, "but there's just not much of a squirrel brain."
Now, some people might want to think twice about eating squirrel brains, a backwoods Southern delicacy. Two Kentucky doctors last month reported a possible link between eating squirrel brains and the rare and deadly human variety of mad-cow disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, thought to strike one person in 1 million, produces holes in the brain. Symptoms include loss of muscle control and dementia. It may take years, even decades, for symptoms to appear.

Dr. Eric Weisman, a behavioral neurologist who practices in rural western Kentucky, reported in the distinguished British medical journal The Lancet that he has treated 11 people for CJD in four years, and all had eaten squirrel brains at some time. Six of the victims, ranging in age from 56 to 78, have died. The normal incidence of the disease in the area should be one case in about 10 years, he said.

Weisman and co-author Dr. Joseph Berger, chairman of the neurology department at the University of Kentucky, cautioned that the number of cases is small, and no squirrel brains have actually been examined for the disease. They said many questions remain, including how the squirrels would contract the disease, since they do not eat meat.

"However, it is perhaps best to avoid squirrel brains and probably the brains of any other animal," Berger said.
Philip Lyvers, a farmer and hunter in central Kentucky whose wife simmers squirrels, head and all, with sauteed onions and peppers and serves them over rice, said "two guys' opinions" in a medical journal won't make him change his ways.
"I know more old hunters than I know of old doctors," Lyvers said.
Mrs. Gates said that given all the other environmental hazards around, she is not frightened by the doctors' findings. "There's no way I can undo what I've done. But I certainly enjoyed eating them," she said. Cooked squirrel brain is about the size of a pingpong ball and is said to taste something like liver, only kind of mushy.

Hunters annually bag about 1.5 million squirrels in Kentucky. Some people have also been known to cook up road kill squirrels, which concerns Berger. A crazed squirrel may be more likely to dash into traffic and get killed.

Exactly how many people eat the brains is not clear. The menu for the 18th annual Slone Mountain Squirrel Festival in Floyd County last weekend did not include squirrel brains, or any other part of the squirrel for that matter.

"We don't even fix squirrel gravy anymore," said Otis Hicks, one of the organizers. "We don't serve any wild animal whatsoever. The health department said they'd all have to be checked, so we just decided not to fool with it."
Michael Ann Williams, who teaches food customs in a folklore program at Western Kentucky University, said some students can recall their parents eating squirrel brains, usually scrambled with eggs.
"I don't think I've had a student who said, `Oh yeah, I think squirrel brains are yummy myself,'" Ms. Williams said.

Baby squirrels dying with tremor

Dear webmaster,

I have been searching out information on a strange disease that has attacked three of my baby squirrels this year... None of the veternarians nor necropsy at university has been able to explain... I am convinced that the symptoms were similar to psuedo-rabies in hogs.. or a protein poisoning... These were caught from the wild and were of different origin, however they all sucumbed to a disease that seems to be similar to the tremors of BSE... Do you know where I might get some information as to the effects of CJD< or any thing that is in this area?

I have raised squirrels for years, but this has me disturbed... Any information you have... Please...

Thanks in advance,

Dear Sandy,
Very interesting. Perhaps write Dr. Berger at the University of Kentucky -- he would be interested in autopsies of these animals. So if there are slides or frozen material he could look at ....

Best wishes,

Animal-derived proteins banned in dairy feeds

August 1997 Michigan Dairy Review 

On-Farm Records Required!

The (FDA) has enacted regulation 21 CAR 589.2000 entitled "Animal Proteins Prohibited from Ruminant Feed. This regulation, was enacted to prevent the potential establishment and spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in the United States through feed.The regulation prohibits the use of animal proteins in ruminant animal feeds, especially proteins from ruminants or mink.

Exceptions to this prohibition include; pure porcine (swine) or pure equine (horse) protein; blood and blood products; gelatin; inspected meat products, which were cooked and offered for human food, or further heat processed for animal feed use (does not include trimmings from slaughter or butcher operations); milk products (milk and milk proteins); proteins from poultry, marine, and vegetable sources; and, animal tallow and other fat products may be fed to ruminants.

All products that may contain prohibited materials must be labeled "Do not feed to cattle or other ruminants. The cautionary statement must be placed prominently on the label. For bulk products the cautionary statement should appear on the invoice accompanying theshipment and on any other labeling.

Requirements for Dairy Farms

Farms and individuals responsible for feeding cattle are required to do the following:

1. Maintain copies of all purchase invoices for all feeds received that contain animal protein. The regulation requires maintenance of invoices for all feeds containing animal protein, so that FDA can verify, if necessary, that the animal protein contained in the ruminant feed is from nonprohibited sources.

2. Maintain copies of labeling for feeds containing animal protein products received. Labeling information typically is contained in the invoices for bulk shipments - keeping the invoice is sufficient. If the only labeling for a bulk product is on a placard, the placard for each shipment should be retained.

Feed also may be received in bags or other containers that have attached labeling. In those instances, the labeling should be removed and kept. However, keeping only one labeling piece from each shipment that represents a different product is necessary. Finally, if the labeling cannot be removed from the bag or a container cannot feasibly be stored, retaining a representative bag or a transposed copy of the labeling information from a container will suffice.

3. Make copies of the invoices and labeling available for inspection and copying by FDA.

4. Maintain the records for a minimum of one year. The one year requirement means one year from the date of the receipt of the product.

Dairy Farm Exceptions

1. Feed and feed ingredients that do not contain animal proteins are notsubject to the regulation.

2. Onfarm mills are subject to the requirements in Part III of the regulation, "Protein blenders, feed manufacturers, and distributors.

3. Persons who feed or intend to feed prohibited material to ruminant animals are subject to regulatory action under the FFDCA. Regulatory action could include seizure of inventory, an injunction against feeding prohibited material to ruminants, or prosecution.

This regulation goes into effect on August 4, 1997. However, the FDA will allow an additional 60 days (no later than October 3) for supplies of printed packaging, labels, labeling and finished products containing the banned mamma lian tissues manufactured before August 4 to be exhausted.

To obtain a copy )available on the Internet) of "Animal Proteins Prohibited from Ruminant Feed: Small Entity Compliance Guide" send two self-adhesive labels with your request to:

Communications Staff
Center for Veterinary Medicine (HFV-12)
7500 Standish Pl.
Rockville, MD 20885

European Ban May Hurt U.S. Exports

AP Online Thu, Sep 11, 1997 By STEPHANIE GRIFFITH
BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- A proposed European ban on animal by-products could set off a new trade dispute with the United States, a senior U.S. trade official said Thursday. Stuart Eizenstat, undersecretary of state for economic affairs, said the restriction could hurt the exports of American pharmaceutical and cosmetic manufacturers.

The proposed ban "has no scientific foundation and could affect billions of dollars of U.S. exports to Europe," Eizenstat told a meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce in Brussels. Hardest hit would be goods containing tallow, a product obtained by boiling animal carcasses that is used to make drugs and cosmetics.

The United States and the European Union are locked in similar squabbles over health issues involving products like genetically modified corn and soybeans. Acting on a complaint from the United States, a World Trade Organization panel ruled last month that the European ban on growth hormones in cattle is an unfair restriction on trade.

Eizenstat said the proposed ban on animal by-products would affect $4 billion in U.S. pharmaceutical exports and an additional $14 billion in cosmetic goods. In turn, he said, Washington would block $7.5 billion in EU exports to the United States. In July, the EU banned a range of products from older cattle judged to be most at risk from bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease. Under the new rules, the brains, eyes and spinal cords of cattle, sheep and goats more than a year old and the spleen of all sheep and goats will be removed from the food chain.

The ban was to take effect Jan. 1, 1998, as part of a campaign to eradicate the risk of humans contracting a strain of the deadly brain-wasting disease. This week, however, a panel of EU scientists recommended exempting some medicines from the proposed ban. It said tallow-derived products could be considered safe for humans if "appropriate, validated" and scientifically advanced methods are used in their production.

Touching on a different dispute, Eizenstat also urged the EU to abide by a WTO panel ruling that condemned Europe's practice of promoting imports of bananas from its former colonies. The policy favors banana imports from EU territories and developing countries, principally in the Caribbean, with longstanding economic ties to the 15-nation bloc.

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