Monday, January 05, 2004

Leanne,

As a proud part of the United States Dairy Industry, I am EXTREMELY
disappointed in this issue of "Healthy Foods". Yes, a single case of
BSE has been confirmed in the United States. We are far from
approaching the situation in the UK, where 10s of 1000s of cattle were
infected. But even there, the magnitude of the human connection has
been far overblown.

Passing along an article such as the one written by Ms. Goodrich does
nothing but propagate fear and confusion. There are a multitude of
mis-statements of fact or half truths that comprise her article. Just a
few points: 1) No beef that you consume will contain "recycled dairy
cows" as that practice has been banned since 1997. 2)All beef- whether
it comes from a top end grocery store, or goes through McDonald's is
USDA inspected. Appropriate testing is done when an animal appears
questionable in any way. 3) we all can feel more than "fairly
confident" that we have not consumed "contaminated" product since the
prions that cause the problems are found only in brain and spinal tissue
of infected cattle, and a grand total of one infected animal has been
found in the many many thousands of cattle in the US. 4) Look at the
numbers from the UK, and it is clear that the risk of actually
contracting vCJD is extremely minimal

As far as your "expert" Bill Sardi and his query, he doesn't quite have
his facts straight either. He poses a query based on the USDA website,
which was clearly misinterpreted. What was previously banned was
feeding ruminant derived protein to other ruminants, as this is the
means of transmission of BSE, it doesn't matter if the ruminant protein
was from a "downer cow" or a healthy cull cow. "Downer cows" can happen
for a multitude of reasons, some are sick and shouldn't enter the food
supply, some are injured, but can yet produce a quality beef product.
It is largely from testing the downer cows at USDA inspected slaughter
facilities that testing to monitor for diseases such as BSE is
conducted.

The US beef supply is safe. Proper investigations will be done to
determine as much as possible the history of this one cow, but
safeguards have already been in place for many years.

Here are some facts which you need to be aware of:

* 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.
* The U.S. banned imports of cattle and bovine products from countries
with the disease beginning in 1989.
* The disease only spreads to animals through contaminated feed. In
1997, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration instituted a ban on feeding
ruminant-derived meat and bone meal supplements to cattle.
* BSE in the brain affects the brain and spinal cord of cattle. No
infectivity has been detected in skeletal muscle tissue.
* CJD occurs (human) in a form associated with a hereditary
predisposition (approximately 5-10% of all cases) and in a more common,
sporadic form that accounts for 85-90% of cases.
* 140 people worldwide have apparently contracted variant
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) from consumption of contaminated beef
products.
* In comparison, 150 Americans die annually due to deer/automobile
collisions
* 7000 Americans die annually because their medical doctors prescribe
incorrect medications for them (Journal of American Medical Association)
* There are 831,000 beef cowherds in the US and 80% of these herds have
less than 50 cows yet they produce 30 percent of nation's calves
(therefore, one contaminated herd does not affect the entire beef
population in the US).
* Safe guards against the transmission of this disease are in place and
effective. The system is working and this cow was found because the
strategy was put in place as a firewall to protect consumers, farmers
and ranchers and the beef population.


Please, please, watch what you print. It is possible to promote the
organic foods that you clearly believe in without spreading
mis-statements of fact and truth.

Christine Troendle

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