Friday, December 26, 2003

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

trent@loostales.com


(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.

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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 trent@loostales.com.

MINNESOTA BEEF COUNCIL PRESS RELEASEFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information contact: Ron Eustice or Michelle Torno (952) 854-6980

Minnesota Beef Council Says US Beef Continues to be “World’s Safest”

(MINNEAPOLIS) –Dec. 26, 2003: Following Tuesday’s announcement that a cow in the state of Washington has tested positive for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), the Minnesota Beef Council (MBC) is aggressively assuring consumers that U.S. beef is completely safe to eat.

Facts on BSE have been distributed by MBC to all major Minnesota media outlets, retaiers and the foodservice. The key message for consumers is that the U.S. beef supply continues to be the safest in the world because of an extensive set of safeguards that have been put in place.

“The diagnosis of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in one cow in the state of Washington proves the U.S. disease surveillance system is working, resulting in a meat supply that is safe” says MBC Chairman Dennis Swan. "Due to the strength of the U.S. system and its ability to prevent the spread of BSE, this is an animal disease story, not a food safety problem," said Swan, a beef producer from Balaton in southwest Minnesota. "Consumers should continue to eat beef with complete confidence."

Within minutes of USDA's announcement about the single case of BSE, spokespeople from the Minnesota Beef Council, the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association (MSCA), Minnesota Department of Animal Health, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, University of Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association conducted scores of interviews designed to reassure American consumers about the safety of US beef. This public relations effort will continue as USDA traces the origin of the cow and investigates the sources of feed consumed by the animal.

Included in conversations and interviews with the media were explanations of BSE and the system in place to prevent any potential spread of the disease. A focal point of the media interviews was discussion of the “firewall” that has been put in place to keep our beef supply safe.

The following safeguards are in place to prevent a repeat of the situation that occurred in Great Britain in the 1990’s:

The U.S. banned imports of cattle and bovine products from countries with BSE beginning in 1989.
A surveillance program for BSE was initiated in 1990, making the U.S. the first country in the world without BSE to test cattle for the disease. The surveillance system targets all cattle with any signs of neurological disorder, as well as those over 30 months of age and animals that are non-ambulatory.

The third firewall in the system is a 1997 Food and Drug Administration mandatory ban on feeding ruminant-derived meat and bone meal supplements to cattle. This is the component that will prevent any potential spread of BSE to other animals. BSE does not spread from animal to animal, only through feed sources.

Also a part of media discussion was the comprehensive, multi-year risk analysis conducted at Harvard University that concluded that while there is a risk of BSE, the U.S. is prepared to prevent the spread of the disease.

MBC Executive Director, Ron Eustice in a reassuring message for consumers says, "Current science indicates the BSE agent is not found in whole muscle meat, such as steaks and roasts, only in central nervous tissue, which is not commonly consumed in the U.S." It is also important for consumers to understand that BSE does not affect the lactation system. “Therefore milk and milk products are considered safe,” adds Eustice.

Additional Facts About BSE:

What is Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy?Bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE is an incurable and apparently infectious disease that attacks the brain and nervous system of cattle. Symptoms may include stumbling, muscle twitching, quivering, strange behavior, a drop in milk production, the inability to stand, and eventually death.

What causes BSE?
Evidence indicates that BSE likely occurred because U.K. cattle consumed animal feed derived from sheep and other ruminants (animals with four stomach compartments) infected with a neurological disease similar to BSE, called scrapie. Scrapie causes BSE-like symptoms in infected sheep.

How does BSE spread?
BSE does not spread from animal to animal or from animal to humans. BSE only spreads to animals through the ingestion of contaminated feed. Scrapie may have "jumped" the species barrier to cattle after the cattle consumed the animal feed rendered with sheep protein.

What has the U.S. done to prevent the spread of BSE?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. utilizes a "triple firewall" strategy. First, the U.S. protects its borders. Since 1989, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) banned the import of cattle from countries with BSE. Second, the U.S. conducts vigilant surveillance at processing plants. USDA veterinarians are stationed at every U.S. meatpacking plant and check cattle for signs of any disease, including BSE. No animal can be processed for meat without a veterinary inspection. If cattle show any symptoms that could possible indicate BSE, they are removed from the plant and tested. Third, in 1997, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration instituted a mandatory ban on feeding ruminant-derived meat and bone meal supplements to cattle because of their ability to transmit the agent that causes BSE.

Does eating beef from BSE-infected animals make people sick?
Whole muscle cuts such as steaks and roasts are considered totally safe. However, there is evidence that neurological tissue such as brains and spinal cord from an infected animal may cause variant Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease (vCJD), a neurological disorder similar to classic CJD. None of these tissues (brain and spinal cord) are used in foods for human consumption in the United States. There has been no evidence that BSE is found in skeletal muscle tissues that are consumed by humans. While some 140 cases of vCJD have been diagnosed in the U.K. since 1986, these figures show how rare the disease is, and lend support to the theory that contracting vCJD may require a combination of exposure to BSE and a genetic predisposition to vCJD.

Is milk from an infected cow safe to drink? BSE does not affect the lactation system, therefore milk and milk products are considered safe.

Additional information on the cow in Washington and the safety of U.S. beef can be found on www.mnbeef.org or www.bseinfo.org.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), Mad Cow,

Without a doubt, the anti-ag movements in this country are ramping up their fear mongering efforts about animal agriculture. As of 8:30 this morning, I have received six different formats for letters to the editor calling for an end to animal agriculture. In the next thirty days, many groups will attempt to plant seeds of fear in every media source possible. The need for all of us to be vigilant in presenting the facts has never stared us in the face to the degree that it is now.

If, in fact, we all accept the challenge to get involved in educating our neighbors, the impact of this BSE incident will be minimal. I STRONGLY encourage you to read all newspapers, keep your ears open in your community and engage yourself in this time of need. Your letter to the editor addressing issues with facts is the best tool you have to use. If you want any help at all, please call me at 970-481-1389 or email trent@loostales.com.

These facts are the key talking points that you need to know and present.

* 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 yet been detected in skeletal muscle tissue.

* BSE does not affect lactation therefore milk and milk products are considered safe.

* 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).

* $41 billion of gross output from beef production activity supports an additional $147.4 billion of economic output for a total of $188.4 billion of direct and indirect economic activity throughout the U.S. economy that is due to the beef industry.

* 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.

Parting Words of Wisdom:

We have been talking about getting closer to the consumer and now is our chance. It is like coming off the bench in overtime to make the last shot in the championship game. If we haven’t played until now, this is our chance to be the hero. Just like in the big game, we have to remember to keep our cool and use what we have learned (and what we know) to get the job done. This should be looked at as an opportunity and not a crisis. Make the best of it – get to know the consumers and tell them the “real” truth. Every one of us is responsible for making sure that food producers are the ones who come out on top in this crucial game!

Trent Loos

Monday, December 22, 2003

December 16, 2003

Craig Erwich
Programming Executive Vice-President
Fox Broadcasting
1211 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036-8799

Dear Mr. Erwich:

The American Veal Association (AVA), representing the nation’s 1000 family veal growers, was disappointed with the Malcolm in the Middle television show that aired on December 7. The episode, whether intentionally or unintentionally, left viewers with a negative impression of the special-fed veal industry.

During the show, Hal Wilkerson asked his son, Reese Wilkerson, “Wow, how do they get the meat this tender?� Reese’s response: “Well, that’s the thing about veal. Imagine if you took Jamie and put him in a little box where he would never see daylight, you don’t let him move so his muscles don’t get all tough, he’s basically blind and you force feed him nothing but milk. That’s what makes them taste so good.�

That dialogue, exchanged between the characters, enforced misconceptions about our industry. Veal is a tender meat, but not because of the myths mentioned by the characters. To follow, is a brief primer to better explain our practices.

- Comfortable Housing

Modern veal housing is designed to partition the animals only up to the shoulder level, ensuring calves visual and physical interactions with their neighbors. Calves are also tethered which allows farmers to gently and safely handle calves for purposes of contact, feeding, treatment and sanitizing, while also reducing the risk of calves harming themselves and each other. Calves can comfortably lie down in natural positions, stand up and groom themselves. This type of housing and tethering allows animals to receive their own feed, individual care and attention. Most importantly, individual housing has been shown to help prevent the spread of disease by limiting calf-to-calf contact while allowing socialization.

- Well-lit Housing

Modern veal barns are well-lit by either artificial lighting or natural sunlight. Producers house their calves in well-lit barns to make it possible to monitor the calves regularly, to feed the animals and keep them clean. Typical veal barns are also heated during cold months and have year-round ventilation to provide clean, fresh air.

- Milk, ideal food for young humans and calves

Jamie Wilkerson, the young child on the show, receives milk because it is the most perfectly digestible food for him. The same is true for calves. Based upon the nutritional standards of government agencies and professional organizations, including the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the National Research Council, veal’s milk-based formula is similar in composition to infant formula. Veal calves receive diets designed to provide all of the 40 essential nutrients they need including important amino acids, carbohydrates, fats, minerals and vitamins.

- Tenderness impacted by collagen, not production methods

As compared to beef, veal is typically more tender because of its younger age and, therefore, greater proportion of collagen in the muscle tissue. Veal calves go to market at 5 months (500 pounds) with more collagen in their muscle tissue versus beef cattle which are typically marketed at 13 to 21 months of age (1000 pounds). In addition, veal is nutritious and a nutrient-rich meat, with only 5.6 grams of fat and 27 grams of protein in a 3-ounce serving.

To comply with those production guidelines, the American Veal Association (AVA) encourages all of their family veal growers to participate in the veal quality assurance program (VQA). The program certifies family veal growers after they've completed an exam on quality production practices, such as housing and nutrition, and have agreed to audit visits by a licensed veterinarian.

Mr. Erwich, we were pleased that veal was the featured protein in this Malcolm in the Middle episode. Veal is a tender meat enjoyed by many American families, not unlike the fictional Wilkersons. That being said, we hope any future episodes, that mention veal, will more accurately reflect truth rather than activist propaganda.

Providing safe, quality veal to American consumers is a top priority for the AVA. If you have additional questions regarding the veal industry, we encourage you to visit the AVA web site at www.vealfarm.com.

Sincerely,


Roxanne Molnar
American Veal Association
1500 Fulling Mill Road
Middletown PA 17057
717.985.9125

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