April 19, 2014

Mad Cow Emerges in Germany


At least one case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), otherwise known as Mad Cow Disease, has been confirmed in Germany. That country has claimed for years that its country was free of BSE, but they were wrong. Public health officials claim that the cow was killed and none of it entered the food chain. Germany instituted "high standards" for animal feed, but traces of meat and bone meal were found in cattle feed recently. A 1994 European Union ban on feeding ruminants meat by-products was supposed to eliminate those ingredients. The cow was 10 years old, and tested positive for atypical BSE, which develops spontaneously in older cows. It had seven offspring. Five have already been slaughtered, and two others were on the same farm. They have been tested and killed. The herd is … [Read more...]

USDA Relaxes Regulations for Mad Cow Beef Imports

Cows in the Field

Last week, the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced its intention to publish a rule that would allow some beef to be imported from countries that have experienced cases of mad cow disease. Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) is a progressive neurological disorder that is caused by eating a prion protein from infected beef. The prion is not destroyed by cooking. The agency says this is a "modernization" of import regulations. Food & Water Watch released a statement about this decision. Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of that agency, said, "This seems to be another case of trade trumping food safety. This development comes as the reopening of beef trade with Europe has been an issue under discussion in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment … [Read more...]

Bone-in Ribeye Recalled for BSE Risk Materials

Sirloin Steak

Triple J Family Farms of Minnesota is recalling about 15,270 pounds of bone-in ribeye because the vertebral column may not have been completely removed, which makes it a risk for BSE. The problem was discovered by FSIS during a Specified Risk Material (SRM) verification. A recent change in the company's carcass separation practices may have caused the problem. Vertebral material may contain the infective agent in cattle with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, otherwise known as Mad Cow disease. The recalled products are 40-pound boxes of "BEEF B/I RIB" bearing any of these case codes: "91-R109H-C," "91-R109H-S," "91-R109H-C-SB," or "91-R109H-S-SB". The products have the establishment number "EST. 17466" inside the USDA mark of inspection. They were made and packaged between February 8, … [Read more...]

FDA Asking for Comment on Mad Cow Risk in Cow Parts


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is asking for comments on its rule for cow parts that may be used to make human products. The interim rule, "Use of Materials Derived from Cattle in Human Food and Cosmetics" was published in 2005. It would allow the use of some cattle-derrived material, but prohibits the use of materials that can carry the infectious agent for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease. The rule was based on research that showed that part of the cow's digestive tract called the distal ileum, which is a reservoir for BSE, can be safely removed from other parts of the small intestine.  That meant that the entire small intestine was no longer designated as "prohibited cattle material" and other parts could be used to make products for human … [Read more...]

House’s Butchering Recalls All Beef Produced in 2011 and 2012

Cubes of raw beef

House's Butchering LLC in Ohio is recalling all beef slaughtered from 2011 to 2012 because they may contain spinal cord and vertebral column materials. The beef is classified as a "low health risk" by the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, but the USDA also says that "product containing spinal cord tissue is not allowed to be called meat." In fact, those tissues are called "Specified Risk Materials" and can harbor the infectious agent that causes Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), also called Mad Cow Disease. Products recalled include "all beef slaughtered and processed at House's Butchering LLC from January 1, 2011 to December 28, 2012. The products may have the Ohio Department of Agriculture mark of inspection and "Est. 54" within the symbol outline of Ohio. The products … [Read more...]

Japan Eases Cattle Restrictions on U.S. Imports


The Japanese government decided yesterday to ease restrictions it has placed on U.S. beef imports. Restrictions put in place in 2006 that partially opened the markets did not allow the import of beef from cattle older than 20 months; the industry standard is 30 months. The agreement, dated January 25, 2013, requires that the U.S. must "meet or exceed" World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) guidelines to be considered controlled risk for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). In addition, U.S. meat establishments should be certified as eligible to export meat to Japan, and the Japanese government may conduct on-site audits of the U.S. inspection system. In 2003, Japan banned U.S. beef completely after a case of mad cow disease was discovered in Washington state in 2003. Secretary … [Read more...]

Brazil Kept Mad Cow Case Secret Since 2010


A report released on December 6, 2012 showed that Brazil was the 26th country to report an incidence of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), commonly called Mad Cow Disease. The USDA assumed that country did not have any BSE cases, so the mitigations that should have been applied to Brazilian beef imports were not. The report states that the animal did not die from the disease, and that it may have been atypical BSE, which occurs in older animals. Brazilian authorities blame an "overloaded system" as the cause of a two year delay for the test. BSE was suspected when the cow died in December 2010, and one primary test was negative. But a second primary test was not done until June 2012; that was positive. Another test of the brain sample was conducted in the United Kingdom; that was … [Read more...]

Wisconsin Firm Recalls Beef Tongue; May be BSE Risk


Black Earth Meat Market Inc. of Wisconsin is recalling 99 pounds of beef tongue product because they may not have had the tonsils completely removed. This is against the law according to the USDA, because tonsils are a specific risk material that can contain the infective agent in cattle infected with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), also known as Mad Cow disease. The product subject to recall is various size cases of Black Earth Meats Natural Beef Tongues and Black Earth Meats Local Beef Tongues produced on October 8, 11, 17, and 18, 2012. The products have the number Est. 34379 inside the USDA mark of inspection. They were distributed to a restaurant in Wisconsin and a distributor in Illinois. The problem was discovered during a routine Food Safety Assessment at the … [Read more...]

Republican Legislators Ask USDA to Reopen Central Valley Meat

Cows in the Field

Three Republican legislators from California have written to the USDA, asking them to reopen Central Valley Meat Company, which was closed this week for egregious abuse of animals. The facility was closed after an undercover video shot by Compassion Over Killing showed downed animals being repeatedly shot with bolt guns and abused. The facility is closed while the USDA investigates the abuse and whether any of the downer animals entered the nation's food supply. The letter states that the legislators want the facility reopened "in order to relieve the plight of its hard-working employees who need to provide for their families." Devin Nunes, Kevin McCarthy, and Jeff Denham all signed the letter. Nunes said that the video was "posted by extremists who are actively working to undermine … [Read more...]

USDA Releases Final Report on April Mad Cow Discovery

Cows in the Field

The USDA has issued its final report on the investigation into bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), popularly known as Mad Cow disease, on a California dairy cow in April 2012. The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) worked with the FDA, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and local officials on the investigation. The investigation included on-the-ground investigations, records review from the rendering facility, the farm and associated premises, and traceback for progeny of the affected cow. The agencies have concluded that "at no time was the U.S. food supply or human health at risk, and that the United States' longstanding system of interlocking safeguards against BSE continues to be effective." The animal was never slaughtered for human … [Read more...]

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