[Homestead] flip that (sick) burger ...
tonihawr at msn.com
Fri Nov 19 14:31:15 EST 2004
“In June, after sustained criticism, the Agriculture Department expanded its testing, saying it hoped to test 268,000 animals by the end of 2005. About 36 million steers, cows and bulls are slaughtered each year.
OK – lets round off the testing numbers :
36,000,000 divided by 300,000 = and (the second) *one*
is found. (or should I say ‘forced to admit a second because
there’s no way to hide it … ?)
That’s a possible 119 ‘other’ diseased cattle annually that are
*not* even being thought about, much less tested - - - .
Now we read that the original diseased meat has *not* all
been accounted for ….
Nor have I read about any tracking system in place *and
enforced* to improve the odds of ‘recalling’ all the parts of
these or the next ‘found’ cattle.
Looking *back*, say there’s been a minimum of 120 per year
from the time they *started* feeding meat offal to cattle
?how many years ago? How widespread is the problem when
you start *thinking* and *counting, knowing that any and
all efforts are made to confuse and obfuscate and pooh-pooh
the dangers >
And this is a *minimum* guess – add to that the chickens/pigs/
sheep, ?who knows? how *they* are being affected by an
admittedly *mutant* ‘aggressor’ …. ?? Ya know, it isn’t very
comfortable being ‘at the top of the food chain’ when it is
clearly attached to one helluvabig millstone …
Friday, November 19, 2004
New case of mad cow suspected
Animal not believed from state; USDA says food, feed chain OK
By CHARLES POPE<mailto:charliepope at seattlepi.com>
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT
WASHINGTON -- The Agriculture Department said yesterday it might have discovered a second case of mad cow disease, renewing concerns about the safety of a staple of the United States' diet and whether the government is moving aggressively enough to prevent additional cases.
The nation's only confirmed case of mad cow was a dairy cow slaughtered in December in Moses Lake. State officials say they don't believe the latest case is from Washington.
In the most recent case, the brain of a cow tested positive three times on a rapid test for the presence of prions, the misfolded proteins that cause the disease, an Agriculture Department official told The New York Times.
A food safety expert said that three positive results on the rapid test means that there is only a remote chance that the animal is not infected with the disease, formally called bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE.
The Agriculture Department refers to all multiple positive results on the rapid test as "inconclusives." Like other countries, it requires confirmation by more complex tests. However, Michael Hansen, a food safety expert at Consumers Union who frequently criticizes the department, told The New York Times that three consecutive positives on a rapid test reduces the chances of an error to 1 in 100,000.
Although the final results won't be known for four to seven days, Andrea Morgan, the associate deputy administrator of the Agriculture Department's Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, said there is no risk to the public.
"It is important to note that this animal did not enter the food or feed chain," Morgan said. "USDA remains confident in the safety of the U.S. beef supply. Our ban on specified risk materials from the human food chain provides the protection to public health, should another case of BSE ever be detected in the United States."
Mad cow disease attacks an animal's nervous system. People who eat food contaminated with BSE can contract a rare disease that is nearly always fatal, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
Morgan said initial efforts had begun to trace back the latest animal from where it was tested to the farm from which it originated. The government is also moving to calm consumers who may be spooked by the news.
Federal officials declined to say where the animal was located. But a spokeswoman for the Washington state Agriculture Department said it's unlikely the cow is from Washington. "There's no reason to believe it's us," spokeswoman Kate Sandboe said. "They are supposed to notify the state vet if there's a positive test, and we haven't heard anything."
The USDA's Morgan pointed out that the less rigorous test has twice in the past identified cows as infected that later tests found to be healthy.
"Inconclusive results are a normal component of screening tests, which are designed to be extremely sensitive," she said.
"If the test comes back positive for BSE, we will then be providing additional information about the animal and its origin," Morgan said.
"Screening tests are often used in both human and animal health, and therefore inconclusive are not unexpected. These tests cast a very wide net, and many end up negative during further testing," she said.
"Our surveillance program is designed to test as many animals as we can in the populations that are considered to be at high risk for BSE. And as of Monday, Nov. 15, we've tested a little over 113,000 samples. We have had two inconclusive, and as of this report, this now represents the third inconclusive."
In July, the department said it had two other "inconclusives," which then meant one positive rapid test. Those animals later proved negative, and the cattle industry complained that the public was being scared unnecessarily.
In response, the department changed its policy and required more than one positive rapid test to call a result "inconclusive."
Despite the assurances from the government, the news rattled the beef industry. Yesterday's announcement sent cattle prices tumbling on fears that foreign markets would remain closed to U.S. beef.
It also emboldened critics who say the federal government isn't moving fast enough to keep infected cows out of slaughterhouses.
"While there is probably no risk to the public, the lack of mandatory animal identification and mandatory recall, and the absence of a complete ban on specified risk material in animal and human food, leaves consumers and cattle producers vulnerable in many ways if the cow in question is found to have BSE," said Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
In fact, Congress is considering abolishing a requirement for country-of-origin labels that would make it easier -- and faster -- to trace meat from an infected carcass.
"We're moving backward on that," said Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., who has been on the forefront of congressional efforts to toughen standards. "Mad cow is a threat we can never lift our foot off. We shouldn't be more lax. We should be more vigilant."
The announcement also hit home in Washington state, where the nation's only confirmed case of mad cow was announced Dec. 23.
That cow was slaughtered in Moses Lake and because more robust testing was not in place, the cow had already been ground into hamburger and sold. A recall was issued, but it was never clear how much of the suspect animal was returned.
Agriculture investigators determined that that cow was born in Canada before a ban on British feed tainted with infected animals was enforced, and there was no American panic over beef, as there had been in some European countries.
But the world closed its doors to American beef exports; the largest customer, Japan, continues to refuse to accept U.S. beef.
In June, after sustained criticism, the Agriculture Department expanded its testing, saying it hoped to test 268,000 animals by the end of 2005. About 36 million steers, cows and bulls are slaughtered each year.
In 2003, it tested only about 20,000. That program was voluntary, and concentrated on relatively few cooperative slaughterhouses. Documents released later by the department's inspector general made it clear that hundred of animals with signs of brain damage were never tested.
The department also adopted tests like those used in Europe and Japan that give results in three to six hours.
The suspect cow's brain will be sent to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, where sections will be sliced thin, stained and inspected through a microscope, a process that could take up to a week.
MAD COW TIMELINE
Dec. 9, 2003: Infected cow from a Yakima County dairy farm is slaughtered.
Dec. 23: Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman announces Washington state case, the first appearance of the disease in the United States. USDA issues meat recall. Other nations begin halting U.S. beef imports.
Jan. 6: Tests confirm cow had disease.
Feb. 9: Meat recall expanded.
March 15: Officials say USDA will expand testing to more than 221,000 animals during the next year to 18 months.
June 1: USDA begins expanded testing.
Late October: Japan and Taiwan agree to ease ban on U.S. beef imports.
Nov. 18: Agriculture officials say they may have found a second case of mad cow disease in the United States.
Scientists believe the fatal disease known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy is transmitted when cows eat feed that contains protein and bone meal from other cows. Humans get the disease, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, by eating food that includes infected brain or nerve tissue, researchers believe.
Spongiform diseases are believed to be the work of mutant proteins called prions. Prions enter the brain and cause normal proteins to mutate. As they spread through the brain, plaques form, disrupting normal brain function. Holes in the brain result, making it look like a sponge.
Symptoms in cows
Nervousness or aggression
Decreased milk production
Severe muscle twitching
Loss of weight despite regular appetite
Dangers to humans
Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a fatal brain disease in humans believed to be associated with mad cow disease. The incubation period for the disease is likely years or decades
P-I Washington correspondent Charles Pope can be reached at 202-263-6461 or charliepope at seattlepi.com<mailto:charliepope at seattlepi.com> This report includes information from The New York Times and The Associated Press.
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