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Experts discover first signs of BSE in sheep
By Steve Connor, Science Editor
08 April 2004


Scientists have detected the first signs that bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) may have crossed into sheep in a study that is likely to rekindle anxieties over the safety of lamb and mutton.

One of three tests used to determine whether sheep that had seemingly died from scrapie were in fact infected with BSE (also known as "mad cow" disease) has produced positive results. The four-year-old animal was thought to have developed scrapie, a brain disorder that affects sheep and is believed to be harmless to humans.

It died in January and its brain was tested by the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) in Weybridge, Surrey, as part of a national programme to determine whether BSE has become endemic in sheep. Two of the three tests were negative for BSE but the third gave "some characteristics" that were similar to experimental BSE in sheep, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said.

Scientific experts who carried out the tests have nevertheless concluded that the case "could not be considered to be" BSE, although they have not ruled out the possibility that this is the first case of BSE disease in sheep. "Some characteristics [of the test] were similar to experimental BSE in sheep and also to [an] experimental strain of sheep scrapie," Defra said.

It was always theoretically possible for sheep to be infected with BSE because they were once fed the same infected material that had spread the brain disease in cattle during the 1980s and early 1990s. But there is no simple test to distinguish BSE from sheep scrapie, and sheep experimentally infected with BSE show the same symptoms as scrapie, which means that scrapie in the field could be masking a hidden BSE epidemic in sheep.

Scientists at the VLA are now testing the sheep's brain with more a sophisticated method based on long-term mouse experiments, which should within two years determine whether the animal really did have BSE or a simply a new strain of scrapie. Defra said that in the meantime the lack of further evidence to suggest that the animal had BSE as opposed to scrapie meant that the existing rules governing the sale of lamb and sheep offal remained unchanged.

Professor Howard Dalton, chief scientific adviser to Defra, said: "As we continue to assess more samples with these improved methods it is likely that we will continue to find samples, such as this, which fall outside our current knowledge of the disease."

The Food Standards Agency said that until there is firm evidence that BSE is present in the national sheep flock there is no need to change existing rules governing the sale of lamb products, such as intestines, which could carry a higher risk of being infected with BSE.

Experiments suggest that BSE could be easily transmitted to sheep, and it could, like scrapie, be passed down the generations. This would mean that BSE could still be infecting the national flock today, more than a decade after meat and bonemeal was banned.

Trade associations relieved by USDA's Creekstone decision

by Daniel Yovich on 4/12/04 for Meatingplace.com
The meat industry's trade associations, which have not supported Creekstone Farms' proposal to test for BSE all the cattle it kills for its branded Black Angus product, stood behind USDA's refusal to allow the Arkansas City, Kan.-based processor to move ahead with its plan.

On Friday, Bill Hawks, the Agriculure Department's undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs, said the agency would not approve the Creekstone plan because it "would have implied a consumer safety aspect that is not scientifically warranted." Creekstone wants to test all of its cattle in a bid to resume shipping its branded Black Angus product overseas, where Japanese and South Korean agriculture officials said it would be welcome ?as long as USDA approved and supervised the testing ?despite Japan's ban on the import of U.S. beef.

American Meat Institute President J. Patrick Boyle said AMI has "respect [for] this decision" and noted that USDA concluded that testing 100 percent of cattle for BSE in a packing plant is "inconsistent with international animal health standards, our domestic BSE surveillance program and the U.S. position in trade policy discussions." The U.S. government has held that USDA's ten-fold expansion in its BSE surveillance program holds up to scientific scrutiny and is sound enough to determine if additional BSE cases exist in the United States.

"It is apparently USDA's view that additional testing beyond this surveillance program is unnecessary and that demands from our foreign trading partners for 100 percent testing are not based on sound science," Boyle said.

Japan and South Korea continue to demand that all U.S. beef bound for export to those countries be tested for the brain wasting disease, and Creekstone might have found itself with an unfair advantage had it prevailed, said Gary Webber, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association director of regulatory affairs.

"We want a level playing field for all companies based on science," Webber said.

But prior to the USDA decision, former AMI Chairman Phil Clemens, the chairman of the Clemens Family Corp. ?the holding company for Hatfield Quality Meats ?said he understands Creekstone's desire to satisfy their overseas customers' requirements that all product be tested.

"I don't have a dog in the fight, but I can understand where Creekstone is coming from on this issue." Clemens told Meatingplace.com.

Like AMI's Boyle, National Meat Association Executive Director Rosemary Mucklow said she too respects USDA's decision.

"It's the government's responsibility to be clear, and they have finally told Creekstone the way they see this issue," Mucklow said. "I think that's the best we can hope for."

Creekstone leaders said late Friday they are considering their legal options in the wake of the USDA decision and were not ruling out filing a lawsuit against the agency for inhibiting the company's ability to earn revenue.

Food Research Institute annual meeting - Food safety meeting May 18 and 19, 2004
April 8, 2004

Food Research Institute
Food safety experts will gather in Madison, Wisconsin on May 18 and 19 for the annual Food Research Institute meeting at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The Institute has a long history of achievement in identifying and addressing food safety issues. This focus on food microbiology & toxicology has developed through academic pursuits and partnerships with industry and government.
The formal program covers current and important food safety issues and includes presentations with industrial, governmental and academic perspectives. Individual sessions are: "Obesity" (presenters from the CDC, USDA, and UW including leading edge research on energy rich foods and gene expression in the brain), "Foodborne Pathogens and At-Risk Populations" (presenters from the University of Georgia, FDA, and USDA with a toxicology, immunology, and microbiology perspective), "Microbial Adaptation" (presenters from UW and University of Edinburgh, UK on Microbial evolution, Bovine colonization of
E. coli O157:H7, and Soil microbes and GMO Impacts), and a session on "Intervention Strategies" (based on active food safety research projects at the University of Wisconsin).
There are two posters sessions, a Food Research Institute faculty and affiliated faculty poster session and a student and post-doctoral poster competition. Dr. William H. Sperber, Cargill will be presented the William C. Frazier Memorial award for his contributions to food microbiology. The Food Research Institute will host a barbecue on Monday May 17 to welcome attendees and allow for networking.
You can obtain information about the meeting and a registration form at the Food Research Institute's web site, htpp://www.wisc.edu/fri/. Jean Johnson can also be contacted at jljohns2@.wisc.edu or by calling (608) 263-7777.

Experiments provide compelling evidence of protein-only prion infectivity, and that prion strain differences must be structural
April 8, 2004
Eurosurveillance Weekly
Volume 8, Issue 15
Editorial team (Eurosurveillance.weekly@hpa.org.uk), Eurosurveillance editorial office
Results of experiments by two prion research groups support the view that prions are protein-based, infectious entities not made up of transmissible nucleic acids. In these experiments, infectivity with purified prion protein was demonstrated (1,2,3). The results also strongly suggest that the different strains of prion which have been shown to occur, are not due to differences in underlying amino acid sequences, but are due to structural differences, and that particular conformations cause different strain phenotypes.
The two groups use a Saccharomyces cerevisiae (fungus) system to model prion infection. S. cerevisiae contains a protein, Sup35 (an essential factor required by ribosomes to terminate synthesis of a polypeptide chain), which has prion properties. When the Sup35 protein is converted to its prion form (in [PSI+] cells), this crucial termination phase becomes defective. Affected cells can be easily detected using a simple screen involving cell colour and protein analysis.
Both groups effectively demonstrated that ¡®normal¡¯ yeast cells ([psi-] cells) can be turned into [PSI+] cells by infecting them with a purified amyloid form of the Sup35 protein. The researchers ¡®infected¡¯ [psi-] cells using one end of the Sup35 protein which contains the information needed to maintain [PSI+] form in vivo. In vitro, this can readily assume the amyloid form.
By showing that resulting infectivity is not affected by destroying all the cells¡¯ DNA and protein-producing machinery, the authors have provided convincing evidence that it is the amyloid form of the protein that transmits infectivity, and a protein can be infectious depending on its conformation, without the underlying amino acid sequence being affected.
The problem of the existence of different prion ¡®strains¡¯ (over 20 different strains which have the same DNA encoding have been described in mice, for example) has historically been difficult to reconcile with the protein-only theory. The idea was put forward that different ¡®strains¡¯ could arise through different conformations of otherwise identical polypeptide chains. These recent experiments have provided evidence supporting this hypothesis.
In S.cerevisiae, there are at least 2 distinct [PSI+] strains that can be generated from otherwise genetically identical [psi-] cells. This difference depends on the degree of suppression of a host nonsense mutation (adel-14) and by the proportion of Sup35 that remains soluble and able to function in its role in the termination process of protein production. At least two distinct conformations of Sup35 were generated in vitro. Infection of yeast [psi-] cells with the different amyloid conformations generated different [PSI+] strains, showing that the protein adopts an infectious conformation before entering the cell.
Questions remain to be answered as to exactly which molecular form of the protein is the propagating unit-a conformationally altered monomer or a highly aggregated amyloid form? And what exactly are the structural differences in cross-beta folding patterns of the 61 amino acid fragment whose conformation determines the prion strain? The experimental systems described in yeast will provide an opportunity to explore these questions further.
1. Tuite, M. The strain of being a prion. News and Views. Nature 2004; 428: 265-7.
2. King C-Y, Diaz-Avalos R. Protein-only transmission of three yeast prion strains. Nature 2004; 428: 319-22.
3. Tanaka M, Chien P, Naber N, Cooke R, Weissman JS. Conformational variations in an infectious protein determine prion strain differences. Nature 2004; 428: 323-7.

USDA Won't Allow Independent Testing for Mad Cow

Innovations in pasteurisation


- 08/04/2004 - New equipment designed to pasteurise food safely and efficiently is being developed to meet EU food safety regulations. We look at two products hoping to capitalise on a growing market.

Danish equipment supplier P Lindberg Industri has developed super microwave ovens capable of pasteurising food. The first customers are egg packers and milk powder producers, and the company claims that the meat industry has also showed an interest in the equipment.
“The gigantic microwaves can also be used within the food industry and the fruits and vegetables business,said Anders Boisen, sales manager at P Lindberg Industri. This is especially true with regard to the killing of unwanted bacteria on packaging and pallets.?

The principle of the gigantic microwave oven is identical to the one in an ordinary and much smaller microwave oven. A plate rotates in the bottom of the oven, microwaves run through in order for the subject to be heated up quickly it can be heated up to 90 degrees Celsius.

According to Anders Boisen, a computerised giant-microwave measuring three metres in high, three metres in breadth and two metres deep, costs between $244,000 and $330,000 depending on the level of technology each oven is equipped with.

P Lindberg Industri is better known in the food industry for the manufacture of stainless chill tanks, but the company is confident that there is a lucrative market for its giant microwave technology. There is certainly an increased focus on food safety at the moment. New EU food safety legislation comes on line in January 2005, and there are plenty of other innovative pasteurisation products coming onto the market.

Another interesting new product is Leda Technologies patented pasteurisation system that is specifically designed to eliminate Salmonella and high levels of avian flu in shell eggs. The company is currently looking to role the technology out on an industrial scale.

If a large egg producer were to contact us to work on a large-scale industrial process, then that is something we would look into,?communications manager Stejn de Preter told FoodProductionDaily.com. We know we have the technology, and we know how efficient this system is.?

Ledas technology ensures that eggs can be pasteurised in the shell and consequently safely stored for long periods of time. The company claims that the appliance, called Pollux, incorporates traditional means of heat pasteurisation with intelligent software that increases the system ability to ensure food safety.

The firm claims that the system has been independently certified to kill at least 700 million Salmonella bacteria inside shell eggs while not affecting the eggs' composition, appearance, nutritional value, taste or cooking properties.

Egg safety is a growing concern. According to the World Health Organisation, at least 40 per cent of reported food poisoning cases in Europe can be attributed to food containing infected eggs, with Salmonella playing a particularly prominent role. And over the past few months, avian influenza has raised fears even further over the safety of poultry products.

The disease has led to the imposition of severe import restrictions on Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Pakistan, China, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. At the end of February, as bird flu surfaced in Texas, the EU halted all poultry related imports from the United States. Last years bird flu epidemic in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany led to the cull of 30 million chickens.

USDA Statement Regarding a Request by Creekstone for Private BSE
Joint FDA-CBP Plan for Increasing Integration and Assessing the Coordination of Prior Notice
Registration of Food Facilities Under the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness
Prior Notice of Imported Food Under the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness
FDA Statement on Lead Contamination in Certain Candy Products Imported from Mexico
2001 Food Code - April 2004 Update
Microbiological Testing Program for Escherichia coli O157:H7 in Raw Ground Beef Products
Verification of Procedures for Controlling Fecal Material, Ingesta and Milk in Slaughter
Review of Establishment Data by Inspection Personnel
Mexico Expands Market Access To U.S. Beef Exports

Current Outbreaks
04/09. Four siblings in Vietnam die after eating poisonous mushroom
04/08. BANGLADESH: Diarrhoea cases on the rise
04/08. Llanelli stars recover from food poisoning
04/05. Man dies after cholera outbreak
04/05. Department baffled by source of cholera
04/04. Phelps back in the water after suspected case of food poisoning

Current New Methods
04/12. Microbial Monitoring and ISO 14698
04/12. New W-Zip Pouches for Oxoid Compact Atmosphere Generation Kits
04/12. World's Most Precise Colony Counter at Analytica

04/09. Prionics and Roche Gain Approval of Rapid BSE Tests from USDA
04/09. Bacteria banish fowl bugs
04/09. Innovations in pasteurisation
04/08. Giant microwave ovens pasteurizes packaging and pallets
04/08. New method to detect dioxin in fish
04/08. Third [Rapid BSE] Test Approved
04/08. Abbott Mad Cow Test Wins U.S. Approval
04/08. Friendly bug in a cuddly chick

04/07. Emerge¡¯s VerifEYE-based HandScan hand-hygiene technology is the newest food

Current Food Safety Informaiton
04/12. USDA statement regarding a request by Creekstone for private
04/12. BC-Food
04/12. 'Epidemic' of Alzheimer's blamed on hamburger: Critics dispute
04/12. BC-Cheney-beef
04/12. Strict U.S. Ban On Lame Cattle From Meat Supply Is Opposed
04/12. IAFP announces three workshops at IAFP 2004
04/12. Creekstone Farms to Challenge USDA's Decision to Decline Pri
04/12. Food safety accreditation needed for global trade
04/12. IOM offers report on evaluating safety of dietary supplement

04/11. Testing Fight Planned
04/11. Trade associations relieved by USDA's Creekstone decision
04/11. Getting Ready for EU Labeling and Traceability Regulations
04/11. International Association For Food Protection elects Gary Ac

04/10. Kansas firm wants to resume selling beef to Japan
04/10. Americans looking mad cow in the face
04/10. Home offers little refuge from contamination
04/10. FDA Finalizes Ephedra Ban
04/10. JAPAN: Gov't to create food manufacturers' database
04/10. Her order: food safety
04/10. FSA Scotland Awards Two More Food Hygiene Grants
04/10. Food Poisoning

04/09. National Chicken Council welcomes the appointment of Dr. Ron
04/09. Transcript on meat available at website
04/09. Food Research Institute annual meeting - Food safety meeting
04/09. Researchers make major gain in understanding how prions jump
04/09. Evidence of protein-only prion infectivity
04/09. Bottled water: More than just a story about sales growth: st
04/09. Food Inspection workers in favour of strike action
04/09. FDA warns about lead in Mexican candy
04/09. Speak Up
04/09. New Move in Traceability
04/09. Veal Group Opposes Hormones
04/09. EXCLUSIVE: Creekstone says court fight with USDA possible
04/09. Creekstone's bid for 100 percent BSE testing denied
04/09. Senators urge Veneman to say no to Canadian cattle
04/09. Japanese supermarkets pressure government not to compromise
04/09. New survey says consumers would pay more for BSE-tested beef
04/09. Cancer-causing compounds in cooked meat, new findings
04/09. Mexico Expands Market Access to U.S. Beef Products
04/09. FSIS Issues Three New Directives
04/09. DeHaven Named as APHIS Administrator
04/09. FAAN: Seventh Annual Food Allergy Awareness Week: May 9-15
04/09. Schneider: DeWitt boy with allergy helps change law
04/09. USDA Won't Allow Independent Testing for Mad Cow
04/09. How BSE may have infected humans
04/09. Protection From Pet Diseases
04/09. Groups issue foodborne illness guide
04/09. Veterinarians Key to Identifying Diseases
04/09. Consumers Set To Reap Benefits Of Improved Food Safety Manag
04/09. Food handlers need state certification
04/09. Scientist Urges Beef Industry on Food Bug
04/09. Food safety issue makes demands on growers
04/09. Congress hears calls to merge food safety programs
04/09. USDA Rejects Meatpacker's Mad - Cow Testing

04/08. Quotable Quotes
04/08. Fact, reason used to protect cattle producers in post-BSE re
04/08. American Meat Institute calls for complete restoration of ca
04/08. NCBA Statement: USDA¡¯s proposed rule on BSE, importation of
04/08. Mad cow-Canada
04/08. Thai organisation to sell food safety test kits, handwash ge
04/08. Organic salmon? Says who?
04/08. Canadian Cattlemen's Association welcomes end of comment per
04/08. On-farm food safety: Australia's food-safety focused LPA pro
04/08. Congress hears calls to merge food safety programs
04/08. Spring is prime time for egg safety
04/08. FSIS releases impact analysis of BSE regulations
04/08. Report offers guidelines on evaluating dietary supplements s
04/08. The Cost of BSE
04/08. Technology for Small Processors
04/08. National Beef denies reports it will follow Creekstone lead
04/08. Creekstone begins brain sampling, anticipates USDA testing a
04/08. Comment period ends, USDA deliberates when and how to open t
04/08. FSIS seeks new technologies geared toward smaller processors
04/08. National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for
04/08. GM risk assessment in EU under the spotlight
04/08. EU tightens label law
04/08. Olive packaging investigated
04/08. AMI, Other Groups Request Change to SRM Policy
04/08. AMI Calls for Complete Restoration of Cattle and Beef Trade
04/08. FSIS Issues Notice Today Regarding Economic Impact of BSE
04/08. Mad cow testing could cost meat industry $150 million a year
04/08. Aftermath of one Holstein with mad cow disease has proved co
04/08. Mysterious BSE-like disease found in sheep
04/08. Aussie bottled water just tap water
04/08. Small packers need safety assurances to survive
04/08. Experts discover first signs of BSE in sheep
04/08. Snack food could be hurting the workers who make it
04/08. Food sell-by dates criticised
04/08. U.S. warns of food poisoning dangers
04/08. Hawaii pulls back proposed chicken hormone investigation
04/08. Chlorination may increase stillbirth risk
04/08. Inspectors must serve consumer -
04/08. U.S. beef supply is still very safe; Minot (North Dakota)
04/08. Food safety in Canada magazine

04/07. Malaysia to be made regional ¡®halal¡¯ product and services hub
04/07. JAPAN: Japan to resume imports of heat-treated poultry products from China
04/07. Doer to lobby U.S. over mad cow
04/07. 'Sound science' should guide other nations in reviving U.S. beef imports, official says
04/07. Expert warns food safety could affect Chinese birth rate
04/07. Additives cause concern
04/07. GERMANY: New GMO Rules
04/07. AUSTRALIA: On-farm Food Safety
04/07. Cheney may discuss Japan's beef import ban
04/07. Latest cancer concern: French fries
04/07. Small packer pushes USDA toward mad cow testing
04/07. National CWD plan is 'collecting dust'
04/07. Scientists weigh single bacterium
04/07. Easter leftovers
04/07. Consumers Set To Reap Benefits Of Improved Food Safety Management
04/07. Physicians, Nurses and U.S. Government Release New Foodborne Illness Guide
04/07. Meeting EU standards

Current Recall Information

Mysterious BSE-like disease found in sheep
16:58 08 April 04
NewScientist.com news service
A massive research programme to find out whether BSE is circulating in British sheep has turned up its first suspicious result. But while scientists say the sheep did not have conventional BSE, they cannot rule out the possibility that it could have had a new form of mad cow disease that has adapted to sheep.

Britain's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has announced that the Veterinary Laboratories Agency in Weybridge, England, had found "a type of scrapie not previously seen in the UK". Scrapie is a sheep disease similar to BSE which is not generally thought to harm people.

DEFRA said the disease-causing prion detected in the sheep's brain "had some characteristics similar to experimental BSE in sheep", but that on other tests it resembled neither BSE nor "previously recognised types of scrapie".

The UK's Food Standards Agency said in a statement: "Uncertainties still remain on this issue. However, based on the best scientific evidence to date, we are not advising against eating lamb and sheep meat."

Meat and bone

There have long been fears that sheep which ate cattle-derived meat and bone meal during Britain's BSE epidemic in the 1980s might have acquired BSE, although they have never been confirmed.

Unlike BSE in cattle, prion diseases spread directly from sheep to sheep. So any BSE in sheep could still be circulating despite subsequent bans on animal-derived feed.

Furthermore, sheep experimentally fed BSE develop a disease indistinguishable from ordinary scrapie, making detection very difficult. Yet the prion from such animals still behaves like BSE, and could cause the fatal human disease vCJD.

Worse, sheep carry prions in more tissues than cattle, including the muscle that people eat, so BSE-infected sheep could cause more human disease than mad cows.

A previous attempt to determine whether British sheep acquired BSE went spectacularly wrong in 2001 when sheep and cattle brains were mixed up in the lab. But since then, the VLA has tested the brains of all 1019 newly reported cases of scrapie, as well as 1125 scrapie brains dating back to 1998, with tests designed to distinguish scrapie from BSE.

Blot test

The new result announced on Wednesday, from a sheep recently reported with scrapie symptoms, is the first to give results that resembled BSE. Danny Matthews of the VLA told New Scientist that in a prion test called a western blot, the sheep's brain did not bind an antibody called P4. P4 also does not bind prions from sheep experimentally infected with BSE, but does bind all but one forms of scrapie tested with it.

Also like BSE, the form of the prion without a sugar attached to it had a lower molecular weight than the form found in scrapie. But the ratio of prions with different numbers of sugars on them looked like scrapie, not BSE, says Matthews.

Most conclusively, immunohistochemistry (IHC), in which thin slices of the sheep's brain were stained with various antibodies, showed prions had accumulated in different parts of the brain and different kinds of cells from BSE - or any known form of scrapie.

Passing change

IHC seems to be a reliable indicator of BSE, as it has given a constant pattern in the 100 sheep of different genetic varieties experimentally infected with BSE and tested so far. But so little scrapie has been tested, says Matthews, it is not known if one strain might give these results on the tests.

The IHC pattern reliably indicates BSE, says Matthews, having been constant in the 100 experimentally infected sheep of different genetic varieties tested so far. But so little scrapie has been tested, he says, it is not known if one strain might give these results on the tests.

One possibility, he says, is that the sheep might have been carrying a prion initially derived from BSE. Passage into new species is well known to change prions.

BSE from experimentally infected sheep has so far been passed to just one more round of sheep, with no apparent change. "But we don't know if passage through many sheep, of different genetic types, might change it so it no longer gives the same pattern in IHC or western blots," says Matthews. "Those experiments are underway now."

Any such new incarnation of BSE in sheep may - or may not - have lost its ability to harm humans.

Debora MacKenzie

New method to detect dioxin in fish
April 7, 2004
Oresund Food Excellence
Danish research is in front in the development of a new method able to detect increased dioxin content in fishmeal. The method, developed by a new research team at the Centre for Advanced Food Studies, is more simple, cheaper and faster than the method used so far. The method is expected to be developed for fresh fish applications.
One of the scientists behind the method is Marc Bassompierre from the Department of Food Science at the Danish Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University. According to Bassompierre, it is a simple and cheap analysis, that do not request the industry to invest large amounts of money in high technology equipment.The future price for an analysis conducted via the new method, will be less than USD 8, compared to existing methods and a price of approx. USD 1100, says Marc Bassompierre.
The method can screen fishmeal in case of increased content of the health damaging substance dioxin. The fish products fatty acid composition is compared with the dioxin content using chemometric technique, which can quickly detect whether or not there is an increased content of dioxin in the product.
“Furthermore the industry, the customers and control authorities will be able to point out suspicious tests with a response time of less than an hour instead of weeks as it is today,?says Marc Bassompierre.
Source:Bsen www.borsen.dk

Third [Rapid BSE] Test Approved


Abbott Laboratories has received USDA approval for its rapid BSE test.

Abbott Laboratories, Abbott Park, Illinois, has received approval from USDA to sell and distribute its rapid Enfer BSE test for the detection of bovine spongiform encephalopathy infection in cattle. The rapid test provides results within hours, is easy to use, and addresses the workflow needs of USDA-approved screening laboratories, the company said in a release. The Enfer BSE test detects the presence of the abnormal proteins ?prions -- believed to cause BSE in brain tissue.

The Enfer BSE test has been successful in Europe and Japan, where large scale screening is mandatory,Joseph Nemmers, senior vice president of diagnostic operations at Abbott, said. As a leader in diagnostic testing and blood screening, we will continue to work with the USDA and offer this high quality test as part of an overall BSE screening solution.
Since entering into a marketing and distribution agreement in 2001 with Ireland-based Enfer Scientific Ltd., Abbott has been selling the test outside the United States and has exclusive rights to sell the test throughout the world except in Ireland. The Enfer BSE test is approved for cattle testing in the European Union and Japan.

The rapid Enfer BSE assay tests every bovine brain sample in duplicate,Jim Koziarz, Ph.D., vice president of research and development, diagnostics at Abbott, said. If either test result is reactive, the brain specimen is resampled and retested in duplicate. This type of testing method ensures that a true positive would be reliably detected.
More than three million samples have been tested for transmissible spongiform encephalopathies using the Enfer test. Additionally, Enfer Scientific is the world's largest TSE screening laboratory routinely performing up to 9,000 tests per day and providing results to beef processors within a minimum turnaround time of 12 hours. Prior to the approval of rapid BSE tests, the USDA used an immunohistochemistry BSE test which took several days to perform and report the results.