'Meaningless' B.S.E. testing hinders U.S. beef industry
(MEATPOULTRY.com, October 16, 2008)
by Bryan Salvage
Source of Article: http://www.meatpoultry.com/news/daily_enews.asp?ArticleIDemail@example.com
TOKYO –What is hindering a hungry world’s
access to protein, driving up food costs and harming local economies, as well
as the U.S.
beef industry, are the combination of an overreliance on meaningless testing
and a lack of focus on documenting the effectiveness of steps that are making
significant inroads against Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy. So claimed Dr.
Ulrich Kihm, a leading global expert on B.S.E., at
a conference on Oct. 15 in Tokyo for Japan’s
opinion leaders hosted by the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
The former chief veterinary officer of
with extensive experience in the research and analysis of infectious animal
diseases, including B.S.E., spoke at the seminar. Other speakers included Dr.
Masahiko Ariji, a researcher for the AMITA
Institute for Sustainable Economics, plus a panel of Japanese journalists and
health industry experts.
Japan’s policy on testing 100% of cattle
for B.S.E. – regardless of age – has been ineffective, Dr. Kihm told the audience, which included more than 80
Japanese government officials, meat industry representatives, media and
opinion leaders, including Takeshi Mikami,
chairperson of the Food Safety Commission for the Government of Japan. The
youngest documented case of B.S.E. to his knowledge was 34 months of age.
Removing specified risk materials and
the implementation of bans on the use of meat and bone meal for livestock
feed, however, have dramatically reduced the incidence of B.S.E. and the risk
of vC.J.D. (variant
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease), Dr. Kihm added.
Although there is a risk of B.S.E. for
Japanese consumers, it has not been accurately reported, Dr. Ariji charged. "The risk of dying from B.S.E. is one
of the smallest, least measurable food-related risks," he added.
The U.S. International Trade
Commission recently issued a report detailing that since B.S.E. was
discovered in the United States
in December 2003, the U.S.
beef industry has lost an estimated $11 billion in missed sales and
opportunities and increased costs, said Philip Seng,
U.S.M.E.F. president and chief executive officer.
Japan’s insistence on 100% testing for
all cattle has been a costly error, acknowledged a panel of distinguished
Japanese media and health industry experts — but this policy is difficult to
reverse because it has been portrayed to Japanese consumers as an essential
safety step. Dr. Ariji stated that Japan has
wasted 1 trillion yen (roughly $10 billion) on animal testing that has not
saved any lives.
"The political atmosphere at the
time [B.S.E. was first reported in Japan] would not allow limited
testing," said Dr. Yoshihiro Ozawa, an advisor to the international
world organization for animal health and a panelist. "I regret that
scientists didn’t make the point that cattle that were not tested were still
safe. It is important to say that the 100% testing is not necessary,
otherwise what is not correct will still be done."