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Statement of Dr. Merle Pierson
Acting USDA Under Secretary For Food Safety

"The interim final rule on the control of Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) in Ready-to-Eat (RTE) Meat and Poultry Products, like all USDA Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS) regulations, is based on sound science and has as its number one goal the protection of public health.

"The interim final rule, published in June, 2003, is far stronger and requires significantly more from industry than the proposed rule published on Feb. 27, 2001. The requirements of the interim final rule have spurred the industry to greatly increase testing and incorporate new technologies to control or eliminate Lm.

"The results have been remarkable. The number of Lm recalls fell from 40 in 2002 to 14 in 2003 and there has not been a large Lm recall in more than two years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, no outbreaks of Lm related to meat and poultry products were documented in 2003. The CDC data are consistent with the results of FSIS regulatory testing for Lm, which showed a 25 percent reduction in the percentage of positive samples collected in 2003 compared to 2002.

"The 2001 proposed rule, which was based on the limited information available at the time, followed the two largest recalls in FSIS history ? both for Lm ? 35 million pounds in 1998 and 33 million pounds in 1999. The proposed rule:

Treated all plants that produced ready to eat products the same, despite the fact that not all products carry the same level of risk;
Did not require that plants treat Lm as a hazard likely to occur and address preventative measures in their HACCP plans;
Contained minimum levels of food contact surface testing for Listeria species; and
Did not specifically mandate that plants share their testing data results with FSIS.
"In contrast, the interim final rule was based on an extensive Lm risk assessment of RTE meat and poultry products carried out by FSIS, as well as a risk ranking conducted by the FDA and FSIS. The risk assessment found that the minimal food contact surface testing in the proposed rule would not be as effective as a combination of interventions. This finding guided the development and implementation of the interim final rule. The results of the risk assessment were presented at a public meeting in early 2003 and were posted on the FSIS web site. The interim final rule is unique in that, for the first time, the agency provided for an extended comment period set at 18 months so that the effectiveness of the regulations could be studied. The comment period will continue until January 31, 2005.

"The interim final rule requires that establishments producing RTE products must consider Lm a hazard likely to occur and address it through a written program such as their HACCP plan. Establishments must verify the effectiveness of their action through in-plant testing and must share their testing data with FSIS. The requirements for testing by plants are determined by the relative risk of what is being produced and the interventions in place to control or eliminate Lm. Those establishments producing the highest risk products relying on sanitation alone to control Lm receive the greatest level of scrutiny by FSIS.

"FSIS has significantly enhanced its scrutiny of establishments producing RTE products through the interim final rule, while providing incentives for industry to implement new preventive measures. An internal assessment of the interim final rule, prepared by a 28-member team and released December 1, 2004, found that plants have made significant improvements to address Lm, such as adding antimicrobial ingredients to their product formulations to inhibit Lm growth and installing a post-processing treatment step to eliminate the pathogen. In addition, the report found that plants have either initiated or greatly increased their testing for Listeria or Listeria-like organisms on plant surfaces that come in contact with products after cooking. These testing data are available to FSIS inspection personnel as a result of the interim final rule and are used to determine the effectiveness of sanitation and other control measures.

"The interim final rule has made RTE products safer and improved health protection for American consumers. FSIS will continue to review public comments and the rule's implementation to make it even stronger."

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy - "Mad Cow Disease" Q/A from FSIS UDA

Are BSE and "mad cow disease" the same thing?
Yes. BSE stands for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, and it is widely referred to as "mad cow disease." It is a chronic degenerative disease that affects the central nervous system of cattle. BSE is named because of the spongy appearance of the brain tissue of infected cattle examined under a microscope.

Is BSE related to any other diseases?
BSE belongs to a family of diseases known as the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). TSE animal diseases found in the United States include scrapie in sheep and goats, chronic wasting disease in deer and elk, transmissible spongiform encephalopathy in mink, feline spongiform encephalopathy in cats, and in humans: kuru, both classic and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker syndrome, and fatal familial insomnia.

(Note: The one case of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in the United States is in a young woman who likely contracted the disease while living in the United Kingdom. Symptoms appeared after she moved to the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not found additional cases in the United States through its surveillance program.)

What causes BSEs and other TSEs?
The agent that is responsible for BSE and other TSEs has not been fully characterized. Although other types of agents have been implicated, the theory that is most accepted in the scientific community is that the agent is a prion, which is an abnormal form of a normal protein known as a cellular prion protein. The TSE agents are extremely resistant to heat, ultraviolet light, ionizing radiation, normal sterilization processes, and common disinfectants that normally inactivate viruses and bacteria.

What about the possibility of BSE coming from other TSEs already in the United States, such as deer and elk with chronic wasting disease, or other sources such as the practice of feeding cattle parts to pigs?

As mentioned before, there are several TSEs in the United States. However, there is no evidence to date that BSE has emanated from TSEs in other animals.

Regarding feeding practices, it is known that cattle can become infected with BSE by eating feed contaminated with the infectious BSE agent. This is why in 1997 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prohibited the use of most mammalian protein in the manufacture of animal feed intended for cattle and other ruminants. For additional information on the feed ban, visit FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine Web site .

Where is the BSE agent found in cattle?
Current scientific research confirms that BSE infectivity occurs in the brain, trigeminal ganglia, tonsils, spinal cord, dorsal root ganglion, and distal ileum of the small intestine of cattle experimentally infected with the BSE agent. Research also confirms that BSE infectivity is in the brain, spinal cord, and retina of the eyes of cattle infected with the agent under field conditions. Although bone marrow has demonstrated infectivity in experimentally infected cattle, these findings are not conclusive.

Can BSE be transmitted from one cow to another cow?
No. BSE is not a contagious disease. There is no evidence that the disease is transmitted through direct contact or animal-to-animal spread. The primary means by which animals become infected is through consumption of feed contaminated with the infectious BSE agent.

What is FSIS doing to protect the public from BSE?
While FSIS believes that the food supply is safe, the Agency has taken a number of steps to ensure that the public does not receive product that could have the BSE infectious agent - however remote that risk is to begin with. On December 23, 2003, after the discovery of a presumptive positive of BSE found in a Holstein dairy cow slaughtered at an establishment in Moses Lake, Washington (see recall release FSIS-RC-067-2003) , FSIS immediately issued a press release that announced the firm's voluntary recall of 10,410 pounds of raw beef. This product might have been exposed to tissues containing the infectious agent that causes BSE. The recall was made out of an abundance of caution, since muscle meat does not contain the high risk neural tissues such as brain and spinal cord, and is considered safe.

In addition, on December 30, 2003, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman announced new policies that would further strengthen an existing solid food safety system against BSE. On that date, an immediate ban was enacted to prevent all non-ambulatory disabled cattle from being used in the human food supply. This group contains the highest risk population of cattle that could possibly have BSE. However, even before this ban, FSIS inspectors at slaughterhouses were condemning all cattle they suspected of showing central nervous system disorders.

The four policies that Secretary Veneman announced on December 30, 2003 were made effective by FSIS on January 12, 2004. These included:

Product Holding - FSIS inspectors no longer mark cattle tested for BSE as "inspected and passed" until confirmation is received by FSIS and the plant that the cattle have, in fact, tested negative for BSE.
Specified Risk Material - FSIS declared that skull, brain, trigeminal ganglia, eyes, vertebral column, spinal cord and dorsal root ganglia of cattle 30 months of age or older and the small intestine of all cattle are specified risk materials that are prohibited in the human food supply. Tonsils from all cattle are also not allowed in the human food supply.
Advanced Meat Recovery - FSIS expanded a prior prohibition on spinal cord from being allowed in product produced from a technology called advanced meat recovery (AMR). This new regulation prohibits dorsal root ganglia, clusters of nerve cells connected to the spinal cord along the vertebral column, in addition to spinal cord tissue from being in AMR product.
Air-Injection Stunning - FSIS banned the practice of air-injection stunning to ensure that portions of the brain are not dislocated into the tissues of the carcass as a consequence of humanely stunning cattle during the slaughter process.

FSIS has implemented these measures as further safeguards in an existing strong food safety infrastructure to protect public health. For more information about these regulations, visit FSIS' Web page at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/oa/news/2004/bseregs.htm

Is there a BSE test for meat? No. The only USDA approved testing for the agent is post-mortem analyses of brain tissue. This is a laboratory screening test for BSE.

How does one test for BSE?
Currently, there is no test to detect the disease in a live animal or in muscle meat. Veterinary pathologists confirm BSE by postmortem microscopic examination of brain tissue using sophisticated laboratory techniques, such as a histopathological examination to detect sponge-like changes in the brain tissue and immunohistochemistry to examine the BSE fibrils. These are "gold-standard" tests, and they take more than a week to run. More rapid tests that provide results within 36 to 48 hours have been developed to detect the abnormal prion in brain or spinal cord tissue of dead animals. Rapid tests can be used to determine if BSE exists in a population and to obtain an indication of its prevalence or detect animals with the disease which are not yet showing clinical signs.

What are the clinical signs that cattle have BSE? Cattle affected by BSE experience progressive degeneration of the nervous system. Affected animals might display changes in temperament, such as nervousness or aggression, abnormal posture, incoordination and difficulty in rising, decreased milk production, or loss of body weight despite continued appetite.

Is there any cure for BSE?
No. There is no treatment for BSE. The course of the disease varies from two weeks to 14 months, usually resulting in death or humane destruction within four months in countries where the disease is present.

How long can BSE be in an animal before it shows signs of the disease? The incubation period (the time from when an animal becomes infected until it first shows disease signs) is from 30 months to eight years with only a few rare exceptions in younger animals. Following the onset of clinical signs, the animal's condition deteriorates rapidly. This process usually takes from two weeks to six months. Most cases in Great Britain occurred in dairy cows between three and six years of age.

Are humans susceptible to BSE?
Although not scientifically proven, there is strong epidemiologic and laboratory data linking a rare, degenerative, fatal brain disorder in humans called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) to the consumption of BSE-contaminated product. This type of disease begins primarily with psychiatric symptoms and affects younger patients (median age, 28 years).

How many cases of vCJD have there been and have there been any in the United States?
As of December 1, 2003, a total of 153 cases of vCJD had been reported in the world: 143 from the United Kingdom, six from France, and one each from Canada, Ireland, Italy, and the United States.

(Note: The one case of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in the United States is in a young woman who likely contracted the disease while living in the United Kingdom. Symptoms appeared after she moved to the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not found additional cases in the United States through its surveillance program.)

How is variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease different from classic Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease?
The classic form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease is endemic throughout the world, including the United States. The median age at death of patients with classic CJD in the United States is 68 years, and very few cases occur in persons under 30 years of age. In contrast, the median age at death of patients with vCJD is 28 years.

The vCJD can be confirmed only through examination of brain tissue obtained by biopsy or at autopsy, but a "probable case" of vCJD can be diagnosed on the basis of certain clinical criteria developed in the United Kingdom. The incubation period for vCJD is unknown because it is a relatively new disease. However, it is likely that ultimately this incubation period will be measured in terms of many years or decades. In other words, if a person develops vCJD from consuming a BSE-contaminated product (not yet scientifically proven), he or she likely would have consumed that product a decade or more earlier.

In contrast to classic CJD, vCJD predominantly affects younger people, has atypical clinical features, with prominent psychiatric or sensory symptoms at the time of clinical presentation. There are delayed onset of neurological abnormalities, including ataxia within weeks or months, dementia and myoclonus late in the illness. Typically, the duration of illness is at least six months.

Can BSE be transmitted to milk and other dairy products?
There is no scientific evidence to suggest that milk and dairy products carry the agent that causes BSE.

What do I do if I ate recalled meat associated with BSE?
The recalled meat (class II from December 23, 2003) is considered safe by USDA, as the tissues that would carry the BSE agent were completely removed at slaughter and not used in meat cuts or products that might have been consumed by humans. The recall from December 23, 2003 was made out of an abundance of caution. If you have concerns that you might have contracted a foodborne illness, then you should contact your health care provider.

Will cooking (including microwave cooking) kill the BSE agent?
Current scientific research indicates that cooking will not kill the BSE agent.

Will irradiation kill the BSE agent?
Current scientific research indicates that irradiation will not kill the BSE agent.

Are baby foods safe?
Beef products processed by mechanical separation may not be used in the formulation or production of baby, junior, or toddler foods.

Advanced meat recovery (AMR) products, which are processed by removing muscle tissue without breaking bones and do not include spinal cord tissue, is allowable for these products (However, there are further prohibitions of material allowed in AMR.

See FSIS rule which became effective January 12, 2004).

Are meats used in the National School Lunch Program safe?
Yes. USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), by specification, does not allow beef that is mechanically separated from bone with automatic deboning systems, advanced lean (meat) recovery (AMR) systems, or powered knives for any commodity programs. USDA procurement specifications for beef specifically prohibit the use of meat from downer animals - animals too sick or injured to walk.

For questions concerning animal feed for livestock or pets, contact the U.S. Health and Human Service's Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Center for Veterinary Medicine
7519 Standish Place
Rockville Maryland 20855-0001
(301) 827-3800 or 1-888-INFO-FDA

For questions concerning animal health, surveillance, and BSE, contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
4700 River Road
Riverdale, MD 20737
(301) 734-7799

For questions concerning vCJD or CJD, or any of the specific human diseases and technical terms mentioned on this Web page, contact the U.S. Health and Human Service's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30333
(404) 639-3534
(800) 311-3435

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy; Minimal risk regions and importation of commodities; Availability of an environmental assessment
[Federal Register (Volume 70, Number 2)]

[Page 554]
[Docket No. 03-080-4]
AGENCY: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.
ACTION: Notice of availability and request for comments.
SUMMARY: We are advising the public that the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has prepared an environmental assessment relative to a final rule published in today's issue of the Federal Register to amend the regulations regarding the importation of animals and animal products to recognize, and add Canada to, a category of regions that present a minimal risk of introducing bovine spongiform encephalopathy into the United States via live ruminants and ruminant products. The rule also sets out conditions under which certain live ruminants and ruminant products and byproducts may be imported from such regions. We are making the environmental assessment available to the public for review and comment.
DATES: We will consider all comments that we receive on or before February 3, 2005.
ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by any of the following methods:
EDOCKET: Go to http://www.epa.gov/feddocket to submit or view public comments, access the index listing of the contents of the official public docket, and to access those documents in the public docket that are available electronically. Once you have entered EDOCKET, click on the ``View Open APHIS Dockets'' link to locate this document.
Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Please send four copies of your comment (an original and three copies) to Docket No. 03-080-4, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3C71, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238. Please state that your comment refers to Docket No. 03-080-4.
E-mail: Address your comment to regulations@aphis.usda.gov. Your comment must be contained in the body of your message; do not send attached files. Please include your name and address in your message and ``Docket No. 03-080-4'' on the subject line.
Reading Room: You may read any comments that we receive on the environmental assessment in our reading room. The reading room is located in room 1141 of the USDA South Building, 14th Street and Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC. Normal reading room hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. To be sure someone is there to help you, please call (202) 690-2817 before coming. Other Information: You may view APHIS documents published in the Federal Register and related information, including the names of groups and individuals who have commented on APHIS dockets, on the Internet at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ppd/rad/webrepor.html. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Karen James-Preston, Director, Technical Trade Services, National Center for Import and Export, VS, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 38, Riverdale, MD 20737-1231; (301) 734-4356.

Olestra as treatment for dioxin: flushing one feared chemical with another
January 6, 2005
American Council on Science and Health (ACSH)
Lynnea Mills
Scientists may have some hope to offer newly elected Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko in his efforts to combat his reported recent dioxin poisoning. It's not a freshly discovered wonder drug. It's not an all-natural diet of organic fresh fruits and vegetables. Indeed, Yushchenko's relief may come in the form of potato chips.
A study published this month by researchers at the University of Cincinnati and the University of Western Australia demonstrates the ability of olestra, the calorie-free fat replacement used in such products as Fat-free Pringles, to speed the process of eliminating dioxin and similar chemicals from animals' bodies.
Which leads us to wonder what will be the response of groups, such as the food police at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, who have long vilified olestra for its potential to cause gastrointestinal problems (a concern discredited by numerous scientific organizations and the FDA) and vilified dioxin for its ability to cause cancer in humans (an unsubstantiated concern, given that studies only show carcinogenicity in rodents, and only at high doses of dioxin exposure). Doesn't acknowledging the efficacy of using one "poison" to flush out another violate the scaremonger code of ethics?
Yet the evidence supporting the use of olestra for this purpose is compelling. Dioxin (like other similar contaminants) is so lipophilic (attracted to fat) it will dissolve in fatty material in the gastrointestinal tract. Since olestra is such a material, it will carry dioxin out of the body, along with other fat-loving compounds. Thus, researchers have latched onto the idea of replacing fat in the diet with olestra in order to remove dioxin from the body faster. In 2001, the National Institutes of Environmental Health Science announced that olestra was effective in treating two women who had extremely high levels of dioxin exposure, and subsequent research has confirmed these results. This month's Cincinnati/Australia study is only the latest in a list of research projects touting this benefit of olestra consumption. (We don't suggest, though, that everyone start loading up on olestra to counteract the effects of environmental dioxin exposure -- the average person's exposure is low enough to warrant no action whatsoever.)
Of course, we're still waiting for alarmist groups to admit that the average person has no need to worry about either olestra or dioxin. In the meantime, we'll settle for an acknowledgement that the best antidote to one of their most hated chemicals might be the consumption of another.
Lynnea Mills is a research intern at the American Council on Science and Health.

The colo(u)r of food fear
January 10, 2005
Rivka Weiser
American Council on Science and Health (ACSH)
In an attempt to protect its citizens, the United Kingdom is reviewing proposals to implement its own color-coded alert system evocative of the one in place in the United States.
This may prompt cynicism in Americans who are skeptical about the effectiveness of our own color-coded security alert system. They may, however, be comforted by the knowledge that the UK's system would create warnings that are targeted to much more specific areas than our system. You see, the UK's proposed alert system has nothing to do with international terrorists. Rather it will relate to food, providing a color-coded indicator specifically calculated for each item in grocery stores. Additionally, it would differ in another fundamental way -- by indicating the healthfulness of foods, as opposed to levels of security threats.
The UK's Food Standards Agency is currently reviewing five food labeling proposals with the goal of picking a system that will help people make better-informed and healthier food choices. The two currently favored proposals are a "simple traffic light" system (with red, amber, and green circles, which supposedly respectively indicate: eat sparingly, eat in moderation, and eat plenty) and a "multiple traffic light system" (indicating low, medium, or high for levels of fat, salt, sugar, and saturates). Other proposals include an "extended traffic light" system containing a range of five colors as opposed to three (I am trying to imagine the confusion that would ensue if such a system replaced all current traffic lights) and a logo to be placed on specific foods deemed to be "healthy."
The first currently favored proposal, the "simple traffic light" system with one color indicator for each particular food, will be too vague to help consumers make informed nutritional decisions and create balanced diets. To the system's credit, it does account for a variety of nutritional factors, including calories, saturated fat, sugar, sodium, calcium, iron, and percent fruit and vegetable content. However, the system does not account for the presence of other important nutrients in the diet (for example, both fruit and diet soda would be labeled with the same green light "eat plenty" indicator). The system provides only one indicator of a given food's status as "healthful," thereby obscuring which factors account for the product's positive or negative rating.
The other favored proposal, a "multiple traffic light" system, indicates high (red), medium (amber), or low (green) for levels of four food components: fat, salt, sugar, and saturates. This system has a considerable advantage over the "simple traffic light" system in that indicators are shown separately and are based directly on levels of a substance as opposed to a complex formula assigning uniform values to the importance of nutrients (resulting in a system in which some amount of a "positive," such as calcium, must be present in order to counteract a "negative," such as calorie density, in a calculation of healthfulness). However, while it does attract attention to a wider range of nutritional aspects of food items, again, it may lead to oversimplified food choices based on only four factors. These four factors do not even include calories, the most important dietary factor in weight control. Furthermore, the same information is already available on the current, albeit slightly less visible, label on each product.
It may be risky to squeeze complex information -- whether about nutrition or terrorism -- into a system normally used to convey only go/caution/stop. If the UK does implement a new food labeling system, it should be supplemented with education clearly indicating the meaning of such labels and not simply reduce food's qualities to traffic light colors. The Food Standards Agency is currently welcoming input on the labeling system.
Rivka Weiser is a research intern at the American Council on Science and Health.


Source of Article: Northwest Food Processors Association Food Safety News
January 11, 2005

The rapid globalization of food production and trade has increased the potential likelihood of international incidents involving contaminated food. Food safety authorities all over the world have acknowledged that ensuring food safety must not only be tackled at the national level but also through closer linkages among food safety authorities at the international level. This is important for exchanging routine information on food safety issues and to have rapid access to information in case of food safety emergencies. Since 2000, the World Health Assembly has adopted several resolutions on the subject of food safety. Member States have called for WHO to be more proactive in communicating about food safety. WHO has also been asked
to provide tools and support to Member States to increase their capacity to respond to health emergencies posed by natural, accidental and intentional contamination of food. Furthermore, WHO¡¯s recent report on the terrorist threats to food identifi ed a food safety emergency network as one of the basic preparedness measures that needed to be taken. In view of the need for all countries to promote the exchange of food safety information and to improve collaboration
among food safety authorities at national and international level, WHO will shortly launch a new International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN). A food safety emergency network (INFOSAN EMERGENCY) will be an integral part of INFOSAN. The food safety emergency network is intended to complement and support the existing WHO Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) that includes a Chemical Alert and Response.
Source: The Flash-WAFDO 12/04

Acrylamide in food survey
January 11, 2005
Food Standards Agency
As part of an international research programme, the Agency has conducted a survey looking at people¡¯s exposure to acrylamide ? a potentially harmful chemical found in some foods.
The survey¡¯s findings are consistent with research in the UK and elsewhere. The levels found would mean that the amount of acrylamide people actually eat is at least 1000 times lower than the doses reported to cause cancer in rats in laboratory tests.
Since the initial 2002 discovery of unexpectedly large amounts of acrylamide in some foods, research has continued internationally to improve understanding of the chemical and to look at ways of reducing acrylamide levels.
More than 200 research projects have been initiated around the world and this survey has been conducted as part of that international effort. The results will be considered as part of the February 2005 Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives safety evaluation of acrylamide in food.
Acrylamide is formed naturally when starch-rich foods are fried, baked, grilled, toasted or microwaved at high temperatures for example chips, roast potatoes, crisps and bread. It has also been found in a variety of other foods. It has caused cancer in rats in laboratory tests and its presence in some foods may harm people¡¯s health. It has not been found in any raw or boiled foods.
The Agency¡¯s dietary advice remains the same. It continues to recommend that people should eat a balanced healthy diet, including plenty of fruit and vegetables, bread, other cereals and potatoes and should limit the amount of sugary and fatty foods they eat, including fried food such as chips and crisps.
Acrylamide: your questions answered at http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/webpage/acrylamide_study_faq/
Analysis of Total Diet Study samples for acrylamide
Read the Food Survey Information Sheet at http://www.food.gov.uk/science/surveillance/fsisbranch2005/fsis7105


Source of Article: http://www.meatnews.com
The U.S. beef industry comments on news about Canada¡¯s third case of BSE, which may affect the final rule on live cattle imports.

Yesterday, Canada¡¯s Food Inspection Agency reported the country¡¯s third case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy. The cow was a beef cow just less than seven years of age and was obtained from a ranch in Alberta. All three BSE-infected cattle were traced to Alberta ranches. The most recent BSE case ? prior to yesterday¡¯s announcement ? was confirmed on January 2.

The U.S. beef industry has responded to the latest BSE discovery. "We remain confident that the animal and public health measures that Canada has in place to prevent BSE, combined with existing U.S. domestic safeguards, provide the utmost protections to U.S. consumers and livestock,¡± USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service administrator Dr. Ron DeHaven stated in a prepared release. "However, since this animal was born shortly after the implementation of Canada¡¯s feed ban and to determine if there are any potential links among the positive animals, we will expedite sending a technical team to Canada to evaluate the circumstances surrounding these recent finds. We appreciate Canada¡¯s willingness to cooperate and assist us in these efforts. We will continue our ongoing work with Canadian officials in their epidemiological investigations to determine the facts of these cases.¡±

He added: "As always, protection of public and animal health is our top priority. The result of our investigation and analysis will be used to evaluate appropriate next steps in regard to the minimal risk rule published last week."

American Meat Institute Foundation president James Hodges said: "With the announcement of the third case of BSE in Canada today, it is important that we try to fully understand the significance of the announcement and demand that our public officials make policy decisions based on sound scientific principles.¡±

He added: The U.S. should move forward with its decision to import live Canadian cattle and meat products because the firewalls to ensure BSE prevention and food safety are intact. BSE infected cattle have been detected in Canada, and might be detected in the U.S., because our BSE prevention programs work.¡±

Hodges pointed out: ¡°How we handle the Canadian announcement is being watched by our trading partners on the global stage. Any decision by USDA regarding a change in Canada's status as a minimal-risk country should be based on the sound scientific principles."

Jan Lyons, president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, commented: "In light of the recent findings of BSE in Canadian cattle, and the fact that this last animal was born after Canada's feed ban, we demand that USDA and the Food and Drug Administration investigate Canada's feed ban compliance. Based on this information, USDA and the FDA should determine how to proceed with regard to implementation of the Canadian rule.

She added: Once the questions concerning Canada's compliance with its BSE firewalls have been adequately answered, NCBA members will consider their position on the Canadian rule and efforts to reopen the border.

Ranchers and Cattlemen¡¯s Legal Fund CEO Bill Bullard said: "During a news conference today, Canadian officials said the feed ban put in place in 1997 was enough of a safeguard to prevent the spread of BSE into the Canadian cattle herd, and into the human food supply. However, during Europe's BSE crisis, Europe also implemented a feed ban, yet, cases of BSE were discovered 12 years after the feed ban was put into place.

On Monday, R-CALF USA filed a lawsuit on in U.S. District Court asking the court to overturn USDA¡¯s Final Rule in reopening the Canadian border to live animals under 30 months of age and Canadian beef products from animals of all ages.

¡°Canada is only removing specified risk materials from animals older than 30 months of age, but according to standards established by the World Animal Health Organization, Canada should be removing SRMs from animals older than six months of age,¡± Bullard said. ¡°The only responsible course of action for USDA, given this new finding, is to immediately withdraw the Final Rule. Should USDA fail to withdraw the Final Rule, R-CALF is asking Congress use its authority to reject the rule completely."

Statement from the Canadian Cattlemen¡¯s Association

January 11, 2005
Canadian Cattlemen's Association News Release
The Canadian Cattlemen¡¯s Association (CCA) says today¡¯s announcement of an additional diagnosis of BSE in an Alberta cow falls within expected parameters and does not change Canada¡¯s status as a minimal risk country. At current levels, surveillance being carried out is well above the level recommended by the World Animal Health Organization (OIE) and the two diagnoses within the past two weeks indicate that the surveillance program is successfully finding any BSE cases that may exist. The level of BSE in the Canadian herd is low and continues to decline as a result of the ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban introduced in 1997.
It¡¯s important to note that while the feed ban began in August, 1997, there was no recall issued at that time on feed ingredients already in the system. The March, 1998 birth date of the BSE case announced today is likely the result of exposure to pre-feed ban feed that was still residual in the system and does not indicate a lack of feed ban compliance at this stage of the investigation. We have confidence in our regulators to ensure the effectiveness of the ban. The low incidence of BSE in Canada, as shown by the surveillance program, is evidence that the ban is working. The CCA fully supports a review and validation of the implementation of Canada¡¯s feed ban.
The rule to allow importation of feeder and slaughter cattle under 30 months of age and an expanded list of beef products into the U.S. was written by the United States Department of Agriculture to take into account that a few additional cases of BSE would likely be found in Canada. Today¡¯s announcement should not impact the re-opening of the border to those products on March 7.

Outbreak of Mad Cow Disease Generates Interest in Chembio Diagnostics' Rapid Test for BSE
Source of Article: http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/050112/125376_1.html

MEDFORD, N.Y.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 12, 2005--Chembio Diagnostics, Inc. (OTCBB: CEMI - News) announced today that the recent concerns surrounding Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), also known as "mad cow disease", could generate significant interest in the PrioSTRIP(TM) rapid test which provides a unique combination of high-speed testing and reliability with simple handling, resulting in very low total operational costs.
Recently, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said that the brain wasting disease showed up in an Alberta cow under seven years old. While officials say no part of the animal has entered the human or animal feed system, this is the second case of BSE found in Canada this year. The PrioSTRIP(TM) provides the ability to rapidly detect BSE in cattle. The Company intends to seek approval from the United States Department of Agriculture to distribute the product prior to the end of the year. Upon approval of the product in Europe, Chembio will be a supplier of PrioSTRIP(TM) to Prionics and its distributors in Europe.

In a report dated November 16, 2004, the EFSA Working Group on TSE Testing expressed its favorable opinion on PrioSTRIP(TM) among several other new tests it evaluated and is now recommending the PrioSTRIP(TM) test for approval by the European Commission.


Chembio Diagnostics, Inc. (Chembio) possesses expertise in the development and manufacturing of rapid test products for various indications, including HIV, Tuberculosis and BSE (a.k.a. Mad Cow Disease). Chembio Diagnostic Systems, Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chembio Diagnostics, Inc. References to Chembio Diagnostics, Inc may actually refer to Chembio Diagnostic Systems, Inc., the 100%-owned subsidiary of Chembio Diagnostics, Inc. Chembio is located at 3661 Horseblock Road, Medford, NY 11763. Chembio's telephone number is 631-924-1135. Email can be directed to info@chembio.com. Additional information can be found at www.chembio.com.


Statements contained herein that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended. Those statements include statements regarding the intent, belief or current expectations of the Company and its management. Such statements reflect management's current views, are based on certain assumptions and involve risks and uncertainties. Actual results, events, or performance may differ materially from the above forward-looking statements due to a number of important factors, and will be dependent upon a variety of factors, including, but not limited to, the Company's ability to obtain additional financing and the demand for the Company's products. The Company undertakes no obligation to publicly update these forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances that occur after the date hereof or to reflect any change in the Company's expectations with regard to these forward-looking statements or the occurrence of unanticipated events. Factors that may impact the Company's success are more fully disclosed in the Company's most recent public filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC"

CEOcast, Inc. for Chembio Diagnostics
Ed Lewis, 212-732-4300 x 225

New dairy quality instrument introduced

January 10, 2005
Institute of Food Technologists
Advanced Instruments, Inc. announced the introduction of the SomaScope(TM) Analyzer to the North American dairy market. The instrument provides a way for dairy labs to quantify somatic cells in unpasteurized milk and identify sub-clinical mastitis.
According to the company, research has found that the quality of pasteurized milk and its shelf life decreases when milk with high somatic cell counts is used. In addition, higher cell counts reduce cheese yield, affect cheese curd firmness, increase whey proteins and decrease casein, and compromise dairy product sensory quality.
¡°Most milk buyers offer some form of bonus plan based on somatic cell count and other quality factors,¡± said Peter Costas, Vice President, Sales and Marketing. "These plans can have a significant financial impact on the value of a producer¡¯s milk. The SomaScope analyzer is designed to meet the needs of dairy processors requiring fast and accurate determination of somatic cell levels,¡± he said.
The instrument features fluorescence flow cytometry and high-throughput, dual photomultipliers for outstanding accuracy. The unit¡¯s modular construction, including open access to the sample preparation unit and other components, allows easy maintenance and parts replacement.

Shell's food safe synthetic lubricants and services benefit major Canadian food and beverage manufacturing plants

January 11, 2005
From a press release
CALGARY - Since introducing Shell Cassida(R) fluids and greases and a range of lubrication maintenance management services for the food and beverage industry, Shell Canada has helped increase food safety at Canadian food manufacturing plants.
Over the past year, Shell has been working with Unilever Canada at its Baie d'Urfe and Rexdale plants to develop improved lubrication management programs for equipment used in the manufacture of dozens of brand name food products including Lipton, Ragu and Becel. Shell Cassida(R) products and services have been implemented as part of Unilever's Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) initiative, which aims for a zero defect, zero failure and zero accident objective.
"When it comes to food and beverage manufacturing, safety is top-of-mind," said Les Markiewicz, General Manager, Commercial Sales and Marketing for Shell Canada. "A good lubrication program can increase food safety and production efficiency. Shell has worked with Unilever plants around the world providing Food & Beverage Solutions, which include Lubrication Contamination Control Point (LCCP) surveys. For the food and beverage industry, a key benefit of the LCCP survey is the identification of potential lubricant contamination points in the food process. This additional knowledge can then be incorporated into the Plant's food safety programs." Conventional industrial fluids and greases traditionally have been used in manufacturing in Canada but the potential for contact with consumable products makes these lubricants less than ideal for applications in the food and beverage industry. Shell Cassida(R) synthetic fluids and greases are H1 lubricants, which means they have been developed and approved for use where there is a risk of incidental contact with food, meeting the food and beverage industry's specific safety and performance requirements. "Since implementing an oil analysis service offered by Shell Canada, we have been extremely pleased with the collaborative effort and recommendations that have resulted," said Doug Dittburner, Chief Engineer, Unilever Canada. "The introduction of Shell Cassida(R) synthetic lubricants has substantially reduced operating temperatures and improved the efficiency of our compressors, effectively increasing the reliability of our critical equipment used in the manufacture of our well-known consumer food products." For more information about Shell Cassida(R) products and services, visit www.shell.ca/food

Rapid detection of food pathogens, new technology

Source of Article: http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/
1/11/2005 - New techniques to minimise the risk of the harmful food pathogen E. coli in the food chain sees the launch of rapid detection system that could speed up identification and reduce costs for the meat industry.

New techniques to minimise the risk of the harmful food pathogen E. coli in the food chain sees the launch of rapid detection system that could speed up identification and reduce costs for the meat industry.
The new biosensor technology can detect E. coli O157:H7 in less than five minutes compared to current systems that can take up to 48 hours, claims US firm Innovative Biosensors that has just rolled the product out onto the market.

Infection with Escherichia coli serotype O157:H7 (E. coli) was first described in 1982. Subsequently, it has emerged rapidly as a major food pathogen and can result in severe complications in humans ranging from haemorrhagic colitis to death.

Outbreaks of infection have been reported in Australia, Canada, Japan, United States, in various European countries, and in southern Africa. In the past they have been primarily associated with ground beef and raw milk, but a recent increase in cases involving highly acidic foods such as fermented dry sausages, mayonnaise, and apple cider have raised new concerns.

The new system from Innovative Biosensors is based on Canary, a biosensor technology developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and exclusively licensed to IBI.

"This product will revolutionise pathogen testing by allowing food producers to test the safety of their products faster than ever without sacrificing sensitivity," said Joe Hernandez, IBI's CEO.

Global food production, processing, distribution and preparation are creating an increased demand for food safety research in order to minimise the risks and exposure to food pathogens that grow in parallel to an ever-expanding food supply.

In industrialised countries, the percentage of people suffering from foodborne diseases each year has been reported to be up to 30 per cent and in the US, for example, around 76 million cases of foodborne diseases, resulting in 325,000 hospitalisations and 5,000 deaths, are estimated to occur each year.

In 1996, an outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in Japan affected over 6,300 school children and resulted in two deaths. WHO claims that this is the largest outbreak ever recorded for this pathogen.

Most strains of E. coli, a common inhabitant of the gut of warm-blooded animals, are harmless. However the strains such as E. coli O157:H7 can cause severe foodborne disease and are referred to as enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC).

The designation ¡®O157:H7¡¯ refers to specific molecules that are found on the cell surface that distinguish it from other strains of E. coli.

Due to food makers constant demand for food safety tools, the food protection market is currently enjoying decent growth with shelf life longevity and preservation key concerns for food and beverage manufacturers operating into today¡¯s increasingly ¡®convenient¡¯ food culture.

Market analysts Global Information pitch the global food preservative market at $517.9 billion (¢æ422.7 billion) reaching $634.3 billion by 2008 thanks to a buoyant annual growth rate of 4.1 per cent.