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From: TSS ()
Date: April 25, 2006 at 12:37 pm PST

Latest Information (as of April 25, 2006 - 15:00 EST)
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) continues to trace cattle that may have been exposed to the same feed as the affected animal.
To date, 19 animals have been located and will be tested in the coming days. Based on international experience and previous North American investigations, finding additional cases of BSE in these animals is unlikely.
Following the recommendations of the World Organization for Animal Health, investigators are also tracing the affected animal’s most recently born offspring.
The CFIA has identified a number of feed sources used on the affected animal’s birth farm. The formulation, production, transportation and storage of these feeds are under review.

Apr 13, 14, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, and 24, 2006 — There is nothing new to report and the investigation continues.

Apr 12, 2006
There is nothing new to report and the investigation continues. An updated flow chart has been posted below.
Flow chart

Apr 11, 2006
There is nothing new to report and the investigation continues. ...............

Report: USDA Tried To Derail BSE Tests Of Infected Cow
The Washington Post reported last week that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) “overruled field scientists' recommendation to retest an animal that was suspected of harboring mad cow disease last year because they feared a positive finding would undermine confidence in the agency's testing procedures, the department's inspector general said yesterday.

“After protests from the inspector general, the specimen was sent to England for retesting and produced the nation's second confirmed case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as mad cow disease.”

The Post report was based on an internal USDA audit designed top evaluate the agency’s performance in dealing with mad cow disease.

According to the Post story, “scientists at the National Veterinary Services Laboratories concluded that a sample from a Texas animal should be tested with other techniques following initial inconclusive findings,” but that “top officials at the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) told them not to do the additional tests.

“When officials from the inspector general's office met with the head of APHIS, they were told that the protocol followed by the agency was the international ‘gold standard’ and nothing more was needed, the report adds. Nonetheless, the sample was later sent to England for a different set of tests and was found to have the mad cow infection.”

It gets worse. “The report also found that although there was no evidence that infected meat had made it into the human food chain, the USDA surveillance system did not collect the information needed to say whether slaughterhouses were following all mad cow-related regulations,” the Post writes.

USDA food safety administrator Barbara J. Masters released a statement saying that “officials have taken steps to better enforce the rules and have reached agreement with the inspector general on most issues. ‘FSIS is confident it is successfully carrying out its mission to protect public health by strictly enforcing safeguards,’ she said.

This is the same Barbara Masters who told MNB recently (in a video interview done for the just-completed CIES International Food Safety Conference):

“To get to the issue of testing our sister agency who we work closely with, the Animal, Plant Health Inspection Service is the agency responsible for our surveillance program on BSE and I would say that they have done a very outstanding job of the surveillance program for BSE in the United States. And they have tested well over 400,000 samples here in the United States over the last 18 months or so looking for BSE in the United States and they have done an incredible job of finding those animals most at risk for BSE in the United States. And through that testing process I think you’re well aware that here in the United States we have found two animals with BSE. And so I think the criticism has decreased here in the United States because of the enhanced surveillance program and the robust system that our sister agency put in place to ensure that we’re testing all regions of the country and all parts of the country with this very enhanced surveillance program put in place by our sister agency.”

KC's View: We cannot even begin to suggest the outrage we feel at reading the Post story. Somebody ought to get fired…in fact, there are a whole bunch of people who probably should be exiled from ever having a position of public trust again.

Gold standard of testing protocols? Not likely. In fact, probably not even close.

This is the best reason that the food industry has to step up and get aggressive on this issue. Don’t trust the government, because it isn’t worried about your customers. And in the end, they are your customers…so you have to look out for them.

Barbara Masters may be confident that the agency “is successfully carrying out its mission to protect public health by strictly enforcing safeguards.” But she’s full of it.

By the way, based on our interview with her, we’re fairly confident that she doesn’t even believe it – she seems best at parroting agency talking points, not engaging in any sort of real discussion or debate.

Not only does this suggest that some of the folks at USDA were more concerned with covering their own butts than preserving the safety of the consumers and taxpayers who pay their salaries and who trust them, but also that there is absolutely no reason they should have any credibility on any other issue. They make lousy decisions, they lie, they cover up. Just what you want from your government.

Get them the hell out of there. Now. Let someone protect the public health who actually is concerned about the public health.

One other note.

In the same video that we produced for the CIES conference, we had Phil Lempert not just questioning government procedures with regard to mad cow (boy, was he right on that one!), but also saying that the media generally hasn’t done a very good job of covering food safety issues.

He’s right on this one, as well. The Post put this story – which strikes us as being about a clear breach of the public trust - on page A-7.

nuf said...........


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