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BSE Case An Issue Of Animal Health, Not Food Safety

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The USDA announced a case of BSE in California on April 24, but reassures public this is an issue of animal health, not food safety.

On April 24, USDA confirmed a positive test result of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in a dairy cow in California. USDA has confirmed this animal did not enter the human food or animal feed supply. USDA is conducting an investigation to confirm the origin and age of this animal. In a media conference held on Tuesday evening, Guy Loneragan, epidemiologist and professor of food safety and public health and at Texas Tech University, provided an update on the case.

“Worldwide, there have been 180,000 classical cases of BSE, mostly in the UK, with 60 cases of the atypical. In the U.S., there have been four cases, with three of the four being an atypical strain of BSE -- a rare form. The controls that help safeguard us from classical cases are also effective in protecting us from the atypical cases. What we do know is the firewall that protects us from classical BSE worked to protect the food supply from BSE,” Loneragan said.

“The next step will be identifying the animal, the age of that animal and the herd of origin. Investigations will be done on where the animal was born and raised and the herd will be studied to see if there are any other animals exhibiting symptoms of BSE. Of course, we are very early in our investigation, and we will continue to update the public as it unfolds. It’s important to note that BSE isn’t contagious. It can’t be passed from animal to animal or animal to person. It is transmitted from contaminated feed. However, there is a possibility that it’s not from the feed; it’s a spontaneous, sporadic event that might occur in older animals. Regardless of whether we completely understand this atypical strain of BSE, it’s important to know that we have the controls needed to protect the human and animal populations against BSE,” he added.

For questions and inquiries on BSE, direct consumers and media to www.bseinfo.org.  Follow @BSEInfo on Twitter and utilize the hashtag #madcow and #BSEInfo in tweets. The beef checkoff has also developed a set of talking points for producers to use in conversations about BSE. Keep current on the latest BSE news at beefmagazine.com. Click on "BSE Information and News" in the "Hot Topics" section of the opening page.

Here are a few key messages you can use in your Facebook status updates or tweets, courtesy of the beef checkoff:

  • USDA: Food supply is safe. #MadCow does not affect safety of beef or milk. Animal DID NOT enter food supply. Get the facts www.BSEInfo.org
  • #MadCow confirmed in CA. USDA says food supply is safe. Animal DID NOT enter food supply. Get the facts at www.BSEInfo.org
  • Fact: BSE is NOT contagious and NOT transferred through milk or beef. Learn more at www.BSEInfo.org #madcow #bse
  • Experts agree U.S. beef is safe from #BSE because of steps taken by the U.S. gov't for more than two decades. #madcow
  • Bottom line for consumers: Your beef is safe. Animal never entered food supply. #BSE not a human risk in US. Visit www.BSEInfo.org #madcow
  • #BSE is not a risk b/c major preventive actions began in 1989. Learn more www.BSEInfo.org #madcow
  • As America's beef producers, our #1 priority has always been providing the safest beef. Learn more www.BSEInfo.org #madcow #bse
  • The World Animal Health Organization says U.S. is controlled risk for #BSE b/c of the thoroughness of our safeguards #madcow
  • FACT: #BSE is a diminishing disease. This is just the 4th U.S. case in 9 years and only 29 cases were diagnosed worldwide in 2011 #madcow

Are you concerned about the safety of our beef supply? How will the BSE case and the controversy on lean finely textured beef impact beef demand here and abroad?

By the way, have you voted for your favorite photo in the Farm Boy 2012 Spring Calving Photography Contest. Check out our finalists and vote here. Also, watch a video of the entries below.

Discuss this Blog Entry 2

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 26, 2012

Good summation of the stats and the safeguards in the second paragraph. That wording should have been used in the USDA's announcement from the get-go.

Over the past 5 years, how many cases of human vCJD worldwide? My sense is that probably less than 10. A major decline compared to 10-15 years ago.

Classical BSE was a man-made disease and major steps were taken to correct that human mistake--the animal feed ban and removal of SRM at slaughter.

At least in the US, we have the safest beef supply in the world just because of those steps.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 26, 2012

Milk replacer fed to dairy calves is still a possible source of contamination. Some formulas contain spray dried blood to up the protien level.

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BEEF Daily Blog is produced by rancher Amanda Radke, one of the U.S. beef industry’s top social media “agvocates.”

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Amanda Radke

A fifth-generation rancher from Mitchell, SD, Amanda grew up on a purebred Limousin cattle operation in which she and husband Tyler are active. She graduated with a degree in agriculture journalism...

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