BSE-fighting measures have been in the news lately, with breakthroughs reported in Canada and the U.S.

  • Scientists at Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) claim a discovery that could lead to accurate diagnostic tests on live animals for BSE. Currently animals can only be tested post-mortem.

    Working with scientists from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's BSE Reference Laboratories, the Federal Research Institute for Animal Health in Germany, and the University of Manitoba, the researchers found that changed levels of a protein in cattle urine indicates BSE presence with 100% accuracy in a small sample set. It was also determined that changes in the relative abundance of a set of proteins corresponded with the advancement of the disease.

    "We are hopeful that at some point in the future the knowledge gained from this study will make it possible to test live cattle," says NML’s David Knox, lead researcher on the study published in Proteome Science. "It also may be possible to develop similar tests for other transmissible spongiform encephalopathies in other species, including humans."

  • In addition, the first test for instantly detecting contamination of beef carcasses and cuts by brain or spinal cord tissue during slaughter has been developed by U.S. researchers. Scientists believe that the human illness, Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease – discovered in 1996 – is caused by the consumption of BSE-infected meat. Previously, there had been no real-time test available.

    Researchers working in conjunction with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, developed a test based on detection of the fluorescent pigment lipofuscin, a substance that appears in high concentrations in the nervous system of cattle, the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reports. To read the article, go to: www.foodproductiondaily.com/Quality-Safety/.