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Saturday, August 05, 2006

Our safeguards are working - A Rebuttal

By W. Ron DeHaven
There's an unfortunate misperception about the value and purpose of testing for bovine spongiform encephalopathy that a review of the science it's based on easily clears up. First and foremost, sampling cattle for BSE does not ensure food safety. In fact, it's not a food-safety test at all. "Read More" click link below


What protects animal and human health are our series of interlocking safeguards, the most important of which are the removal of specified risk materials from cattle over 30 months of age, and the 1997 Food and Drug Administration ban on the feeding of mammalian protein to other ruminants.

Testing cannot detect BSE until shortly before a cow develops symptoms. And cattle in this country are generally slaughtered for food between 18 and 24 months of age, which is long before the disease is detectable. Hence, testing young slaughter-age animals would mislead the public by providing an implied food-safety assurance for which there would be no scientific basis.

We have just announced USDA's intention to transition from our enhanced BSE surveillance program to an ongoing level of surveillance. Our efforts have proved what all the evidence has been telling us — that BSE in the USA is extremely rare.

Only two positive BSE cases were detected out of more than 764,000 samples collected as part of our enhanced surveillance program. Moreover, seven years of surveillance data, which were recently released, found that the prevalence of BSE in the USA is less than one case per 1 million adult cattle, with the most likely range of infected animals being four to seven.

All this confirms what we already knew — there is no significant BSE problem in the USA, and there never was.

The new, ongoing surveillance will involve sampling approximately 40,000 animals from the targeted populations each year. At this rate, we'll maintain our ability to detect BSE and far exceed international surveillance guidelines by more than 10 times.

USDA is confident that ongoing surveillance for BSE will continue to demonstrate the health of our cattle to consumers and the international community, and affirm that our interlocking safeguards are working. With this knowledge, Americans and our trading partners can continue to eat U.S. beef with confidence. I certainly do.

W. Ron DeHaven is administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

SOURCE: - Our safeguards are working

I don't know, but it seems like the old vaudeville joke about the man scattering paper bits out the train window claiming he's keeping tigers away. When a fellow passenger tells him there are no tigers about, he exclaims, "See, it's working!" --pseudolus


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