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Cattle industry responds to BSE discoveriesCattle industry responds to BSE discoveries

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service yesterday confirmed the nation’s fourth case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a dairy cow from central California.

April 26, 2012

6 Min Read
The California Department of Food and Agriculture has vacancies on feed inspection and shell egg advisory panels.

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service yesterday confirmed the nation’s fourth case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a dairy cow from central California.

(A statement from USDA Chief Veterinary Officer John Clifford making the announcement can be found here).

Following the USDA announcement, several livestock industry organizations issued statements regarding the discovery. The groups praised USDA’s surveillance program and stressed there is no risk to human health.

Following is a summary of the statements, beginning with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Cattle Health and Well-being Committee Chairman Tom Talbot issued the following statement regarding the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) confirmation of an atypical case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a dairy cow in central California.

“USDA confirmed this afternoon a positive test result as part of its targeted surveillance program to test cattle for BSE. USDA has confirmed this dairy animal was discovered at a rendering facility and was never presented for human consumption and poses zero risk to human health. The bottom line remains the same — all U.S. beef is safe.

“America’s cattle producers’ top priority is raising healthy cattle. As such, the U.S. beef community has collaborated with and worked with animal health experts and government to put in place multiple interlocking safeguards over the past two decades to prevent BSE from taking hold in the United States.

“This effort was recognized in May 2007 when the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the leading international body for animal health, formally classified the United States as a controlled risk country for BSE. The controlled risk classification recognizes that U.S. regulatory controls are effective and that U.S fresh beef and beef products from cattle of all ages are safe and can be safely traded due to our interlocking safeguards.

“USDA’s ongoing BSE surveillance program tests approximately 40,000 high-risk cattle annually, bringing the total of tested animals to more than 1 million since the program began. BSE is fast approaching eradication worldwide. According to USDA, there were only 29 cases of BSE worldwide in 2011, which is a 99 percent reduction since the peak in 1992 of more than 37,300 cases.

“We commend USDA and animal health experts for effectively identifying and eliminating the potential risks associated with BSE.”

For additional information, visit http://www.beef.org/.

American Veterinary Medical Association

The American Veterinary Medical Association today released the following statement in response to the detection of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a dairy cow from central California.

"The finding of this BSE-positive cow is not particularly surprising, and it is certainly no cause for alarm," said Dr. Ron DeHaven, chief executive officer of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

"It is not surprising because we have known for several years that there is a very low prevalence of BSE in our nation's cattle population. USDA has maintained a good, targeted surveillance program for the disease, and it is expected that we might find such cases periodically.

"This finding is not cause for alarm because the tissues of any infected cows that pose a food safety risk, i.e., specified risk materials or SRMs, have been kept out of the human food supply since early 2004. What this finding does confirm is that the safeguards put in place by the USDA several years ago are working as they are intended."

Dr. DeHaven is a past Administrator of APHIS and was USDA's Chief Veterinary Officer in Dec 2003 when the initial case of BSE was found in the U.S.

For more information, please visit, www.avma.org.

National Milk Producers Federation

America’s dairy farmers are encouraged that the on-going surveillance and inspections performed by federal authorities continue to ensure that bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease, does not enter the U.S. food supply.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced Tuesday that a BSE-infected animal was detected in California, in a dairy cow that was presented at a rendering plant. Three previous cases of BSE have been discovered in the U.S. in the past nine years.

Although details about the age and origins of the animal are being withheld pending further investigation, NMPF offered the following points about the issue:

• Milk and dairy products do not contain or transmit BSE, and animals do not transmit the disease through cattle-to-human contact. The infectious prions that transmit BSE are found in neurological tissues, such as brains and spinal cords.

• The United States put regulations in place in 1997 to prohibit ruminant protein from being used in animal feed. This applies to all cattle, dairy and beef alike.

• Non-ambulatory animals — those that cannot walk — are not allowed to be processed at facilities where meat animals are handled. This regulation helps ensure that animals that are unwell are not entered into the food supply.

For more background on BSE and the dairy sector, visit the NMPF website.

The USDA also has an FAQ on BSE on its website.

U.S. Meat Export Federation

USMEF statement: Atypical BSE case confirmed in U.S. — no impact on food safety

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today (April 24) confirmed that, as part of its ongoing monitoring of livestock in the United States, an atypical case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) has been detected in a dairy cow in central California. The animal was not presented for slaughter for human consumption, and never posed a risk to the food supply or human health.

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is continuing to investigate the case, which was confirmed late Monday, April 23, but preliminary results indicate that this is an atypical case of BSE. According to USDA Chief Veterinary Officer John Clifford, this indicates that the case is unrelated to consumption of animal feed.

This latest finding will not have any impact on the United States’ “controlled risk” BSE classification through the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and should not affect access for U.S. beef products in international markets.

“The most important message is that U.S. beef is safe,” said Philip Seng, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) president and CEO.

“We are already reaching out to our trade contacts around the world to reassure them that this finding is an indication that the system to safeguard the wholesomeness and safety of U.S. beef is working. The U.S. Government is providing this same information through its channels to all of our trading partners.”

The United States maintains a vigilant system of interlocking safeguards to protect human and animal health against BSE. Those include the removal of all specified risk materials (SRMs) during processing, USDA’s ban on any use of SRMs in both human or animal food, and constant monitoring of livestock to ensure that no higher-risk non-ambulatory (or “downer”) animals are processed for consumption.

Global BSE cases peaked at 37,311 in 1992, but steps taken by countries around the world have dramatically reduced new cases to a minimum. Of the four cases identified over the years in the United States, one animal was traced back to Canada. The other two earlier cases were both classified as atypical.

For additional information visit http://www.usmef.org/.

(Other information and updates on BSE can be found at


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