Statement by CEO
On June 30, 2004, the United States Department of Agriculture announced that the “inconclusive” test for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE, also known as mad cow disease) reported on June 25, 2004 has been confirmed by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory to be a false positive and that the animal does not have BSE.
USMEF President & CEO Philip Seng immediately issued the following statement:
“The USDA announcement today that the animal which produced an “inconclusive” preliminary test for BSE on June 25 was not infected with the disease is a clear indication that the firewalls put in place to ensure that the safest beef supply possible are working.
“The very aggressive two-part U.S. surveillance program was implemented in June and this finding is the result of a two-part test process. To test a significant number of targeted animals, the government's first step uses a rapid screening test, which can produce inconclusive results as it did with this animal. The second step, confirmatory testing, was conducted by the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa. NVSL uses “gold standard” tests to determine the presence of BSE.
“It is important to note that the USDA took the appropriate steps and precautions to ensure that no potentially contaminated beef entered the food supply. The production of the safest beef in the world and the eradication of BSE among U.S. beef herds continue to be our top priorities and safeguarding public heath the number one concern. This exercise illustrates the U.S. beef industry’s commitment to stringent adherence to federal testing mandates and USDA transparency in reporting. There is more than ample reason to maintain confidence in the U.S. beef production system, and USMEF and USDA will do everything in their power to communicate this confidence to our trading partners worldwide.
“The testing that identified the potentially infected animal is part of a set of aggressive efforts to eradicate this disease from the U.S. beef supply.”
The United States has implemented and continues to maintain four effective firewalls to ensure that U.S. beef remains safe from BSE:
1. In 1989, the United States was the first country in the world without BSE to ban imports of beef, cattle products and cattle from countries where BSE is prevalent.
2. In 1990, the United States was the first country in the world without BSE to begin a BSE surveillance and testing program.
3. In 1997, the FDA banned feeding cattle the type of animal-derived protein that can spread BSE. International experts agree that a feed ban breaks the cycle of BSE and assures it will be eliminated. The FDA reports a remarkable 99 percent compliance rate for the feed ban.
4. In 2004, USDA strengthened its food safety system by banning from the human food supply any cattle that appear ill, are unable to walk or show signs of possible neurological disease. The USDA also prohibited from the food supply any material from animals that could carry the BSE agent (specified risk materials, or SRMs, such as spinal cord or brain).”
To learn more about the risks of BSE, information can found at the following websites:
- Centers for Disease Control Q&A: www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/cjd/bse_cjd_qa.htm
- Food and Drug Administration Q&A: www.fda.gov/cber/bse/bseqa.htm#a1
- U.S. Department of Agriculture Q&A: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/lpa/issues/bse/bse_q&a.html
- U.S. Beef Industry Scientific Panel Information Resource: www.BSEinfo.org