USDA to hold public sessions on animal ID program
by Eric Hanson on 6/14/04 for Meatingplace.com
Source of Article: www.meatingplace.com
To discuss the development and implementation of a national animal identification program, the Agriculture Department announced a series of listening sessions across the United States.
The sessions are designed to provide public forums to discuss the details of a national animal ID program, which has taken on added urgency since the discovery of a cow with bovine spongiform encephalopathy in Washington state in December.
The proposed animal ID system is tasked with quickly tracing back the origins of any diseased or potentially diseased animals. A premise identification system will be completed this summer, allowing for pilot programs to begin testing identification systems, according to USDA.
The first listening session will be held June 14 at the Crown Center, 1960 Coliseum Dr., Hospitality Suite A, in Fayetteville, N.C. from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. For directions, call the Crown Center at (910) 323-5088.
Additional listening sessions will be held in: Athens, Ga. on June 18; Prineville, Ore. on July 1; Stockton, Calif. on July 10; Socorro, N.M. on July 16; Pasco, Wash. on July 23; Greeley, Colo. on Aug. 10; Billings, Mont. on Aug. 13; Kissimmee, Fla. on Aug. 16; Columbus, Ohio on Aug. 18; Ames, Iowa on Aug. 26; Joplin, Mo. on Aug. 27; Appleton, Wis. on Aug. 30; and St. Cloud, Minn. on Aug. 31.
More details about each listening session, including the site and time of the meeting, will be posted on USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Web site.
safety - BSE
finds aflatoxins in nuts and nut-based products below legal levels
of Article: http://www.news-medical.net/
A total of 197 samples of nuts and nut products were analysed in the survey, carried out between November 2003 and January 2004. In 70% of samples aflatoxins were not detected. Forty-nine samples (25%) were found to contain levels of aflatoxin B1 and had total aflatoxins below the legal limits of 2 and 4 micrograms/kg respectively.
However, 10 samples (5%) were found to contain levels of aflatoxin B1 and total aflatoxins above these limits. Where aflatoxins above the legal limits were detected, the Agency has taken action to ensure that these products are no longer available for sale. Occasionally consuming a small amount of aflatoxin contaminated food is unlikely to cause ill effects. However, aflatoxins have been shown to cause cancer in a number of animal species by damaging DNA. There is also some evidence to suggest they may be harmful to humans. Experts have recommended that aflatoxins in food should be reduced to the lowest levels achievable. The results from this survey show an improvement in the situation compared with the previous survey published in 2002, when 13% of samples were found to exceed the legal limits for aflatoxin B1. It does not raise any new safety concerns and consumers do not need to change their diets as a result of these findings.http://www.foodstandards.gov.uk
spokesperson urges farmers to adopt more safety practices
``Food safety, animal health and productivity go hand in hand,'' said John Ragan of the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service, addressing dozens of farmers assembled for the annual event at the Blount Unit Experiment Station on Singleton Station Road.He said front-end means to keep animals healthy and disease- and chemical-free are more important than ever, given the increasing sophistication of the American consumer. They are ``better educated and better read and better versed on things in general than ever in history,'' Ragan said.However, he warned: ``A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.''American consumers ``can't distinguish between the small and large things,'' he said. For instance, people are increasingly concerned about bovine spongiform encephalitis (better known as ``mad cow disease,'' much to Ragan's stated chagrin), but give little attention to far more serious threats such as listeria contamination.
``The consumer hears and reads about these things,'' said Ragan after ticking off a list of pathogens that included hoof and mouth disease, BSE, E. coli, salmonella and listeria, ``but they don't make a distinction.''Consumers don't associate such pathogens and diseases with animal health issues, but rather with ``bad things that may affect their food, and they don't want anything to do with it.''While strides have been made in agricultural inspections and other government controls, he reiterated that farmers are the first line of defense against the release of unhealthy products into the marketplace and urged farmers to adopt a management system that identifies potential shortfalls in the production process.
The system was adopted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in cooperation with Pillsbury to provide a foolproof food source for astronauts. A key to the rule is identifying potential or existing shortcomings in the agricultural operation and addressing problems at those points in production.``It's a legitimate, science-based system on which we can depend.''Documentation of each step of, for instance, the cattle production process is a key to the system, Ragan said, which ``signaled the adoption of a farm to table approach to food safety.''Other guidelines include requirements that cattle must lack chemical residue and must not be fed bovine byproducts. Calf exposure to manure must be reduced, and the use of pesticides and other chemicals closely controlled. ``Safe food begins with healthy animals,'' said Ragan, a veterinarian.Most ``finished'' hogs and cows in the United States are perfectly safe, but concerns remain about ``culled'' livestock, some pigs and veal production, Ragan said.He said he understood the reluctance of some farmers to change practices in a volatile industry, but noted: ``Change is inevitable; it's going on. The challenges are many; the demands are great, but there are tools available to us.``Those who elect not to change are going to find it harder and harder to sell their product,'' he said.Dr. C. Roland Mote, assistant dean of the Agricultural Experiment Station, said the university already stresses some of the points made by Ragan through its Food Safety Center.``The major emphasis,'' Mote said, ``is going back to the beginning'' to ensure agricultural practices promote the rearing of healthy animals.``We're very sensitive to the issues he's talking about. He's right on target,'' Mote said.
Kansas State University Business Researchers to Help with Major Study on Food Supply Veterinary Medicine
Jun 10,12:49 PM ET
food levels reported
Food Safety Informaiton
USDA expands training for emergency response system
by Ann Bagel on 6/8/04 for Meatingplace.com
Source of Article: www.meatingplace.com
The Agriculture Department has expanded its training program for a Web-based Incident Command System designed to help the agency respond to various emergencies.For decades USDA has used an ICS structure, which includes five functional areas ?command, operations, planning, logistics and finance/administration for management of all major incidents. For example, ICS helped USDA handle several outbreaks of bird flu and exotic Newcastle disease during the past few years.
Under the new setup, ICS training will now be available to all USDA employees via the Internet.
"This ICS training will help bolster resources to manage accidental or deliberate incidents that may threaten the U.S. food supply, critical infrastructure or economy," Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said in a statement last week.