Press Release – For immediate release
Title: Consumers are safe - Isolated BSE case does not endanger US beef supply
Key Words: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), beef, consumer
Date: December 24, 2003
Contact: Trent Loos, Faces of Agriculture 970-481-1389
(Loup City, NE) - A cow in a Washington processing plant has tested positive for BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) in preliminary evaluations by the United States Dept. of Agriculture (U.S.D.A.). While the news has made headlines around the world, the danger to consumers of U.S. beef is nearly non-existent for numerous reasons, according to rancher and Faces of Agriculture founder Trent Loos of Loup City, NE.
“Despite the efforts of anti-agriculture activist groups and their attempts to scare consumers, beef is a safe and nutritious food for humans. This single incident of BSE will not result in contamination of beef products intended for human consumption,” said Loos. “There are numerous facts about BSE that consumers need to be aware of in order to make sound decisions about their beef purchases.” For example:
BSE affects the neurological system of an animal. None of these tissues (brain and spinal cord) are used in foods for human consumption. There has been no evidence that BSE is found in skeletal muscle tissues which are consumed by humans.
BSE does not spread from animal to animal or from animal to humans. BSE only spreads to animals through the ingestion of contaminated feed. In 1997, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration instituted a ban on feeding ruminant-derived meat and bone meal supplements to cattle because of their ability to transmit the agent that causes BSE.
BSE does not affect the lactation system, therefore milk and milk products are considered safe.
The U.S. began a surveillance program for BSE in 1990 and was the first country without evidence of the disease to test for it. The surveillance system targets all cattle with any signs of a neurological disorder as well as those over 30 months of age and animals that are non-ambulatory.
Loos encourages consumers to consider the statistical risk of contracting the variant form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), which has been associated with the consumption of BSE-contaminated beef products. “Only 140 people, worldwide, have ever contracted variant CJD and there is no proof that the disease was directly attributed to the consumption of contaminated meat products. In comparison, 150 Americans die every year because of automobile collisions with deer. 7000 Americans die annually because their doctors prescribe incorrect medications for them. The risk to beef consumers from this BSE incident is virtually non-existent.”
According to beef industry experts, the United States developed and implemented a system to safeguard against the transmission of BSE when the disease was running rampant in the European Union. Because this diagnostic system is effective, experts were able to identify this animal and USDA officials can explore the source of the disease.
“While farmers and ranchers had hoped to avoid the incidence of BSE in the United States, there is no scientific or rational reason that this isolated incident should negatively affect consumer’s choice of beef as a healthy and safe protein food,” said Loos.
Trent Loos is a 6th generation United States rancher, host of daily radio show Loos Tales and founder of Faces of Agriculture, non-profit organization putting the human element back into the production of food. Get more information at www.FacesOfAg.com or email Trent at firstname.lastname@example.org.