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From cannibal to vampire
Jury is out on blood plasma sources
Statement from Belgium authorities
U.S. restricts food imports from Belgium
Antibiotics in animal food have EU states worried
Eat nuts instead of meat or cheese, study suggests
River guardians call for ban on sheep dips
Post-exposure prophylaxis after accidental prion inoculation

From cannibal to vampire

Paul Michelsen, D.V.M.
P.O.Box 268
Potter Valley, California 96469
The Nov-Dec 1997 issue of Large Animal Veterinarian has an article about the use of "USDA inspected spray-dried red blood cells and plasma" in milk replacers for calves. The authors are employees of the company which produces the product, American Protein Corporation of Ames Iowa.

Is this legal? What is the risk of TSE transmission?

Dr. Kari Koester-Loesche:
"It has been known since long that there could be the risk of cattle acquiring a spongiform encephalopathy through milk replacers (Bleem A., Crom R., et al. Risk factors and surveillance for bovine spongiform encephalopathy in the United States. JAVMA, Vol 204, No 4, February 15, 1994). As expected also this problem has been waited out, though milk replacers might quite possibly be one source of BSE of BAB-calves."

Roland Heynkes, Ph.D
"In Europe this is also legal. Decision 95/60/EC changes decision 94/381/EC so that milk, gelatin, amino acids from hair and skin, Dicalciumphosphate from bone, dried plasma and other blood products are allowed to be in food for farm animals, including cattle."

Lord Lucas, UK Parliament

"Well whatever, it certainly was amplification. It seems daft to me to deliberately ignore the lessons that we have learnt at such cost. We don't know whats out there, and we should avoid feedback on principle."

"I heard about this too, that up to 10% of the diet of calves could consist of "USDA inspected spray-dried red blood cells and plasma." It would be legal because the FDA ruminant-to-ruminant "ban" specifically allows cow-to-cow for blood and blood products, as well as brain and spinal cord cow/sheep-to-pig and cow/sheep-to-chicken, in both directions too as I recall. Pigs of course have a very similar prion sequence to their fellow artiodactyls and can be susceptible to transmission. I think sheep-to-cow would be legal too for blood products, not sure of market share significance.

I don't know what the definition of 'USDA-inspected' means here in a technical sense of a directive. It could not cover TSE-infectivity as part of an effective mandate as there is no way currently to implement a sensitive and timely test, though some are coming off the drawing boards. [USDA inspected means veterinary-inspected for CNS disorders as materials fit for human consumption -- correspondent]

Peyer's patches are much reportedly much more substantial in calves than in adult cows, up to 40% of available length as this is a prime time of life to acquire needed immunitites. This could favor transmission of TSEs if there is anything in the diet to be transmitted. Then there is the matter of exposure of a very young animal and its relatively longer lifespan for incubation. The process sounds like spray lyophilization which could be fairly mild; I haven't seen any studies suggesting that this would lower prion titre.

The bottom line is, the exemptions keep various amplification feedback loops in place. It is precisely amplification and half-measures that got the UK into deep water. The US has no shortage of 6 repeat cattle, supposedly some 7 repeat animals as well, and the Gibbs Principle would give the rare animal with a CJD-like point mutations. Then the amplification loop kicks in and the UK situation is replicated in this hypothetical scenario.

I think the timing is bad, among other things: another study is coming out very soon in Nature on blood infectivity, the practise is not going to reassure the EU about the safety of US pharmaceutical products, and why not hold off at least until 'USDA-inspected' can be given some practical meaning vis-a-vis TSE infectious titre? Also the practise is not going to bring a lot of vegetarians back to the table, the cannibal-to-vampire jokes were already going around last week."

Rendering Industry correspondence:

Doug Anderson
Darlington Int'l , largest US renderer; last quarterly report
National Renderer's Association
"In response, yes [this practise is legal] as blood and blood products are exempt from the FDA ban on ruminant proteins."
Miscellaneous pooled correspondence:
"The American Protein Corporation of Ames, Iowa is not related to American Proteins of Georgia, the nation's largest poultry renderer, also fishmeal producer. APC works with packers to collect and separate blood plasma which is then spray dried and used in baby swine feeds, some milk replacers (calves) and [possibly a few canned pet foods (new area). All this would be from animals slaughtered at packers (passing ante mortem USDA inspection), not from deadstock, pets, roadkill, etc.

Most of the vet brands of pet foods have moved away from ruminant proteins, except lamb meal which is usually imported from so called "TSE free" countries. Some of the major petfood companies have moved to "low risk" materials of the types acceptable in the EU. The pets in pet food issue really stirred the pot this summer.

Also, the soap, cosmetic and fatty acid people in North America are moving to disengage from independent renderers as suppliers. The USDA is pushing for testing of adult sheep slaughter with ante mortem test to track down scrapie positive herds but it is not clear that they will get funding

USDA inspected means all cattle used to supply blood were veterinary-inspected and did not show suspect CNS symptoms, as well as other diseases (such as rabies!) because these materials are also used in human food. Obviously FDA is presuming blood and milk are not significant carriers of the infectious agent."

Jury isout on blood plasma sources

Pork '97 Web Site 24 Nov 97
Feeding blood plasma can help newly weaned pigs gain weight. But researchers are still uncertain about which plasma source works best. Studies by Iowa State University, Kansas State University and American Protein Corp. in Ames, Iowa, came to different conclusions about whether bovine or porcine plasma provides the best growth in young pigs.

The trial at Kansas State also looked at a low-ash version of porcine plasma. At seven days and 14 days, pigs fed spray dried porcine plasma posted better average daily gains and feed intake than those fed spray-dried bovine plasma. At 28 days, those fed the bovine plasma had caught up. The low ash version offered similar results to the spray-dried porcine plasma.

An American Protein Corp. study found no difference in porcine or bovine plasma through 21 days after weaning. But from that point, pigs fed bovine plasma grew faster. Low-ash versions of both plasmas offered no advantages.

Meanwhile, Iowa State conducted two trials that produced different results. The first test found pigs fed spray-dried bovine plasma posted higher average daily gains and feed intake at 14 days and 28 days after weaning than those fed porcine plasma. The second trial, however, closely resembled the Kansas State results, with porcine plasma outperforming bovine plasma through the first 14 days.

In each of the studies, plasma-fed pigs consistently did better through the first 14 days after weaning than pigs fed a control diet. In the end, differences between plasma sources weren¼t enough to offer a clear-cut advantage.

„We didn¼t find too much difference,¾ notes Mindy Rantanen, Kansas State swine nutrition graduate student.

She notes the low ash porcine plasma can be used at slightly lower inclusion rates than the other products. Rantanen suggests checking prices to see if a low ash plasma or another source is most cost-effective. Though the spray-dried porcine plasma looked slightly better in the trial, she says the important thing is to use some sort of blood plasma in the first days after weaning.

American Protein Corp. points out the cost structure for bovine and porcine plasma is similar. One potential problem with blood plasma sources, according to Dean Zimmerman, Iowa State University swine nutritionist, is that feed ingredients are not necessarily well standardized. Try to make sure your plasma source is consistent. Zimmerman and Rantanen warn that plasma is too costly to use beyond the first couple of post-weaning diets.

Researchers are still trying to pinpoint how plasma improves piglet performance. One theory is that the product somehow enhances the pig¼s immune system.

Acting on that assumption, another Kansas State researcher, Jim Smith, tested a sow source of plasma against bovine and porcine plasma and a control group. All three plasmas outperformed the control diet on feed intake. The porcine versions again posted slightly higher numbers than the bovine plasma. However, the sow source was no better than the regular porcine plasma. Ultimately, the sow source probably would cost more, Smith notes.

Belgium changes system after madcow feed mistake

Reuters World Report Fri, Nov 14, 1997
BRUSSELS - Belgium said on Friday it had changed its slaughter system after an administrative error resulted in the carcass of an animal with mad cow disease being turned into animal feed and exported. Farm Minister Karel Pinxten told a news conference that in future all cows suspected of suffering from a nervous disease such as rabies or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy would automatically be slaughtered and incinerated.

In the past cows suffering from rabies have been slaughtered and turned into animal feed.

"The situation that arose around our first case of BSE showed...the application of different procedures for BSE and for rabies was the cause of the slaughtering of an animal suffering from BSE and its being turned into feed," Pinxten said.
The case of the mad cow-contaminated animal feed came to light at the end of October. The cow in question had been slaughtered on suspicion of having rabies. Although the rabies test proved negative and tests for BSE began, the carcass was processed into animal feed which was sold in Belgium, Poland and the Netherlands.

It was not until more than a month after the slaughtering and processing that tests on its brain finally proved it had been suffering from mad cow disease. Pinxten said all the tainted feed sold in Belgium had been traced and it had been established that all of it was for animals such as pigs and chickens in which feed is permitted to include animal protein. It was, he said, therefore safe [sic]. It is illegal to include animal protein in feed for cows which are ruminants.

"As the Netherlands and Poland also ban the inclusion of animal protein in ruminant feed, that too should be as safe," he added.
He said the authorities in both countries had been given all the details necessary to trace the contaminated feed.

Pinxten said that rigorous tracing of the origins of the infected cow had proved beyond reasonable doubt that it had not caught the infection from its mother or from contaminated feed or drugs. In the absence of any other evidence, it therefore had to be concluded that the case of mad cow disease had been one of spontaneous infection from an unknown cause, he concluded.

U.S. restricts food imports from Belgium

November 19, 1997
WASHINGTON -- The United States has banned imported cattle, sheep, their meat and many related products from Belgium after a case of mad cow disease was reported there last month.
"This emergency measure was taken to protect animal and public health," Joan M. Arnoldi, deputy administrator for veterinary services with the Agriculture Department's animal inspection agency, said Tuesday.
No case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, the proper name of the neurological disorder fatal in cattle, has ever been reported in the United States. Since 1989, the government has banned imports of live animals and many products derived from them from countries where the disease is known to exist. Eating meat from cattle tainted by the diseased is believed to cause the brain-wasting Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans, which has killed at least 20 people, mostly in Britain.

Belgium is not a major exporter of meat to the United States.

Other countries affected by the U.S. import ban are Britain, France, Ireland, Oman, Portugal, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Belgium reported its first case of mad cow disease Oct. 31, 1997.

Opinion 20 Nov 97 webmaster
"This story raises more questions than it answers. Is the US waiting around for these countries to actually admit to BSE before banning imports , ie, not using best-available-science (estimated incidences based on imports of tainted feed and livestock from UK)? Has been a long wait in some cases. In what year was France banned? I don't see Germany and Italy on the list either, is this a reporter's error?

If they imported tainted feedstock or at-risk calves, when all is said and done, they can be expected to have a more or less proportional problem, so what we have here amounts to a policy of locking the barn door after the horse is gone. Waiting for a clinical cow to show up -- was the Titanic sunk by the top of the iceberg?

Have to wonder how many tons of beef products in all forms were imported to the US from UK-Europe 1987-1997 and what this went into, the allocation between amplification-cycle material and terminal consumer product? Did they send their best stuff or what they couldn't give their own people and industry?

What about warehoused frozen BSE beef, where all does it end up after a few rounds of smugglers and relabelers get done with it, do the English publish an annual audit of inventory leakage?

Sounds like the USDA will need to acknowledge importing quite a bit of titre on a probablistic basis, account for where it went, do some follow-up. Why are we risking our public health and our industry to protect somebody else's piddling export business? Is this NAFTA and does it override the precautionary principle?

If things are, and have been for quite a while, out of effective control, maybe the best we can do is look again at residual US amplification feedback loops."

Eat nuts instead of meat or cheese, study suggests

November 18, 1997
LONDON - People who eat large amounts of animal fats, not just meat, have the highest risk of developing heart disease, scientists said on Tuesday. A study of 11,000 health-conscious vegetarians and meat-eaters in Britain showed their risk of coronary heart disease was less than half of the general population, but consuming lots of cheese, eggs, meat and milk raised the odds of getting a heart attack.

The research also highlighted the benefits of eating nuts five or more times of week. "The highest intake of nuts was associated with a 23 percent reduction in all cause mortality," the doctors said in the report in the medical journal Heart. People with a total intake of animal fat and cholesterol at around 70 grams a day had three times the death rate from coronary artery disease than those consuming 25 grams daily.

"Dietary saturated animal fat and cholesterol, rather than simply meat, were the factors most strongly linked to coronary heart disease. This implies that replacing meat in the diet with other foods rich in animal fat and cholesterol, such as cheese and eggs, will not reduce risk," said Dr. Tim Key, one of the authors of the report.
The research also indicated that heart disease risk was higher among overweight people.

River guardians call for ban on sheep dips

November 17 1997 Times BY NICK NUTTALL, environment correspondent 
A BAN on a new generation of sheep dips is being demanded by anglers, landowners and salmon experts amid claims that the chemicals are killing rivers. Tiny amounts of the chemicals - introduced as alternatives to dips which were linked with ill-health in farmers - can eradicate the insects and invertebrate life in a watercourse, studies have found.

Critics fear the spread of the dips, called synthetic pyrethroids, threaten the rivers in Scotland, the North West, Wales and the South West. In Cumbria, the worst affected county, invertebrate life has been killed in up to 100 miles of water, including the River Eden, after pollution incidents in recent months.

James Carr, a vice-chairman of the Salmon and Trout Association and chairman of the Environment Agency's regional advisory committee, said yesterday that the Eden was one of Britain's finest salmon and trout rivers. It is a proposed Special Area of Conservation under the European Species and Habitats Directive because of its fish life.

"The problem with these new products is that they are particularly lethal. A teaspoon can kill hundreds of metres of river by killing aquatic insect life which is the vital component in the food chain for fish and other wildife," he said. Mr Carr said the impact of the new chemicals was only just emerging.
The products, introduced around 18 month ago, are designed to replace organophosphate sheep dips which have been blamed for a range of ailments among farmers. The new chemicals are less toxic to man. But critics claim the Government's Veterinary Medicines Directorate, under pressure to find alternatives to organophosphates, failed to assess the wider environmental impact.

The Environment Agency said yesterday that it was visiting farmers to advise them about the dangers of the new dips. It will next week be issuing a "strong statement about sheep dips. We are very concerned." Lord De Ramsey, the agency's chairman, is also expected to raise the matter with Jack Cunningham, the Agriculture Minister, in two weeks' time.

Post-exposure prophylaxis after accidental prion inoculation

Lancet 11.22.97
 A Aguzzi, J  Collinge
Nothing online. Sounds like it addresses a potential concern of lab personnel and caregivers.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in a prolific blood donor.

Arch Neurol 1997 Nov;54(11):1323 
Riggs JE
Nothing online. Sounds like it addresses potential impacts from a single individual who happens to regularly donate blood.

Antibiotics in animal food have EU states worried

November 19, 1997
BRUSSELS - Denmark and Germany have asked the European Union for a report on the risks to human health of putting antibiotics in the food of farm animals, an EU spokesman said Tuesday. At the same time, Finland and Sweden have asked for an extension of the permission granted them when they joined the EU in 1995 to curb the use of such antibiotics.

German Agriculture Minister Jochen Bochert said the request for a report followed a World Health Organization conference on the subject in Berlin last month. WHO experts said the excessive use of such antibiotics could be dangerous to human health, by building up a resistance to the drugs in animals which could then be passed on to people through the food chain. Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler pledged to consult the relevant scientific commission on the requests.

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