Statement by Administrator Ron DeHaven of the Animal and Plant Health
Inspection Service and Acting Administrator Barbara Masters of the Food
Safety and Inspection Service
The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Food
Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) welcome the report and
recommendations from the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) regarding
our enhanced bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) surveillance program.
The Office of the Inspector General's report made a total of 19
recommendations on specific program issues. USDA agrees with the
recommendations and had already implemented several actions to address
the recommendations in the report. In most instances, while a specific
action might have been noted, the recommendations require routine
monitoring or ongoing action. Processes have begun for those ongoing
activities that will be conducted throughout the program. Four of the
recommendations were more specific, and have been completely addressed.
For more than a decade, APHIS has taken aggressive measures to prevent
the introduction and potential spread of BSE in the United States as
well as conduct a targeted surveillance system. We designed our enhanced
surveillance plan to augment those efforts by strengthening surveillance
in the high-risk cattle population and establishing limited surveillance
in the general population of older cattle.
APHIS continues to take proactive steps to further assure consumers,
trading partners, and industry that the risk of BSE in the United States
remains low. The objective of the new program is to obtain samples from
as many of the targeted high-risk adult cattle population as possible.
This intensive effort will allow us to more accurately estimate the
possible prevalence of BSE in the U.S. cattle population. In a little
more than two months, APHIS has sampled more than 42,600 high-risk
cattle with no positive test results.
It is important to note that OIG's report looks at both the previous
surveillance plan and the very early implementation phase of what will
be a 12- to 18-month enhanced program. Even though we are only a few
months into this enormous effort, both agencies have already taken steps
to implement many of OIG's recommendations.
For instance, the OIG report recommended that the agencies better
communicate the purpose of the enhanced BSE surveillance program and
more completely explain the objectives and assumptions, as well as the
conclusions that might appropriately be drawn from it. Accordingly,
APHIS is currently preparing a more detailed document to address
specific issues raised by the OIG audit and will be posting it to the
APHIS web site for public review by the end of August.
The OIG also pointed out that it is critical to the integrity of our
surveillance program that we obtain an adequate number of representative
samples from across the United States. We agree and are continuing to
take steps to ensure that this occurs. During the initial planning and
implementation of the surveillance program, APHIS Veterinary Services
employees worked closely with industry and State personnel to estimate
the number of samples that could be obtained in each State. From this
extensive work, we determined that we would get a good geographic
representation in the sampling process.
In order to ensure geographic representation in our sampling efforts,
APHIS created a database to analyze data at all levels and monitor the
number and geographical area of samples to provide an early warning
signal if we are receiving significantly fewer or more samples than
anticipated for any given State or region. We have designated an
epidemiologist with APHIS' Veterinary Services program to perform
routine analysis of this data and report directly to the BSE
surveillance program manager, who will immediately address any
significant deviations in samples. APHIS also plans to utilize a variety
of outreach methods, including meeting with key industry participants,
conducting informational campaigns geared toward producers, and
consulting with State officials to ensure sufficient samples are submitted.
In order to ensure that USDA's policy for sampling cattle ante-mortem
condemned at slaughter is consistently followed by field staff, both
APHIS and FSIS implemented measures to ensure a cross-check between
FSIS' ante-mortem condemned cattle statistics and APHIS' BSE
surveillance statistics. Both agencies issued instructions to field
personnel that clearly state the policy to sample all cattle condemned
on ante-mortem inspection, including how to properly collect, document,
and ship samples to APHIS' laboratory for analysis. Employees in both
agencies also received extensive training in the sample collection process.
APHIS also entered into an agreement with USDA's Agricultural Marketing
Service (AMS), which has vast experience establishing and evaluating
quality assurance programs, to audit the entire BSE surveillance
program. AMS expects to complete the initial audit by mid-September,
with a follow-up audit to be completed in the next 16 to 18 months. This
program will ensure consistency between agencies and among sample
collectors, as well as validating that the appropriate cattle are sampled.
Again, we appreciate OIG's report on the early phases of our BSE
enhanced surveillance program. We are committed to ensuring that our BSE
surveillance program yields accurate and reliable information for the
general public, for industry, and for our trading partners. Since the
single case of BSE was found in Washington State last December, we have
worked hard to be transparent in our prevention, surveillance, and
eradication efforts, with the objective of ensuring that we have the
benefit of expertise from around the country and the world. We are
committed to making changes wherever necessary to ensure the integrity
of our efforts. We have greatly appreciated the observations and
recommendations of OIG and look forward to continued cooperation with
OIG in this regard.
Greetings list members,
> In a little more than two months, APHIS has sampled more than 42,600
> high-risk cattle with no positive test results.
RIGHT! they take the highest risk animals (some 500 of them and more)
and use there SSS policy or better yet, in Texas we just send the
suspect BSE/TSE cattle to be rendered without testing. NOPE, I don't
believe there lies anymore. I don't believe that they have not found
any BSE/TSE cattle. I think they have found them but have simply
covered them up. I can say this with great confidence now. HEADs
need to roll at USDA/APHIS/FDA, it's past time, from Veneman on down
they have failed us terribly. I don't think everyone is corrupt there,
do believe however, the USDA/APHIS/FDA is corrupt in that they have
failed consumer protection to save the Industry that runs them. This
must be stopped. IT cannot go on like this, you just can't have the same
bozo's making the same mistakes year after year anymore, in fact I
don't think they are mistakes, they are inactions meant to be just that.
They will render and bury every cow that has TSE or suspect in the USA
in order to protect there precious industry. That is unless old mad dave
is there, and other people like him. YOU remember the BSE downer
that walked. YEP, they did not let that happen again i.e. TEXAS
mad cow that went straight to render, no go, no $200, and no
BSE/TSE test. RIGHT, no cover-up there either;-)
> Published 8/11/2004 11:23 AM
> WASHINGTON, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture failed
> to test for mad cow disease or collect the correct portion of the brain
> on nearly 500 suspect cows over the past two years -- including some in
> categories considered most likely to be infected -- according to agency
> records obtained by United Press International...
No mad cow results for nearly 500 cows
May 13, 2004
Failure To Test Staggering Cow May Reflect Wider Problems
Rep. Waxman raises concerns that the recent failure of USDA to test an
impaired cow for BSE may not be an isolated incident, citing the failure
of USDA to monitor whether cows condemned for central nervous system
symptoms are actually tested for mad cow disease.
- Letter to USDA
July 13, 2004
IG Audit Finds Multiple Flaws in Mad Cow Surveillance Plan
Rep. Waxman raises questions about the effectiveness and credibility of
USDA's response to mad cow disease, citing an audit by the USDA
Inspector General that finds systemic deficiencies in the Department's
surveillance plan and new evidence that USDA misled the public in the
wake of the detection of an infected cow in Washington State.
- Letter to USDA
IG Draft Audit
SUPPRESSED peer review of Harvard study October 31, 2002
FULL TEXT OF GOA REPORT BELOW (takes a while to load)
2. Mad Cow Disease: Improvements in the Animal Feed Ban and Other
Regulatory Areas Would Strengthen U.S. Prevention Efforts. GAO-02-183,
January 2002 MAD COW DISEASE
Improvements in the
Animal Feed Ban and
As you also requested, we considered, to the extent
feasible, a study by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis and sponsored by
USDA to examine the potential for BSE in the United States.2 That study,
issued in November 2001, concluded that BSE is extremely unlikely to
become established in the United States and that, if introduced here, it
would be eliminated within 20 years.3 The authors acknowledged that
those conclusions, which were based on a probabilistic simulation model
developed for the study, could be influenced by a number of model
assumptions that could not be verified with confidence—including
assumptions about U.S. measures to prevent the introduction and spread
IN OTHER WORDS, in was meaningless, just words on paper,
rules and regulations that were not complied with, much less enforced.
as i so kindly said, a farce. how many reports from peer reviewed
experts do we need to say that the USA BSE/TSE program is failing,
has failed, and will fail in the future, how many do we have to have
before someone does something, and i don't mean stand up there in
front of God and the world and lie, i don't mean that, i mean when is
something going to be done...TSS
The following are GAO’s comments on the Department of Health and
Human Services’ letter dated January 9, 2002.
1. Our report acknowledged FDA’s ongoing review but also notes that
FDA has not set a date to announce a decision on the exemptions. The
report also recognizes that recent research suggests the possibility of
“silent” incubation in species not previously thought susceptible to
TSEs. This research argues against waiting until BSE is found to
strengthen measures shown to prevent the spread of the disease. As
FDA notes, other countries strengthened their feed bans due to
concerns about commingling prohibited and non-prohibited proteins.
Such commingling is a common area of noncompliance in the United
2. As FDA points out, its June 22, 2001, transmittal of compliance
information to the Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and
Commerce “made an effort to identify the fact that there were
reporting problems, including incomplete data, i.e., blanks.” However,
we do not believe that this caveat conveyed the extent to which the
information could be inaccurate. In fact, noncompliance could be
much higher than FDA reported, because FDA treated all firms with
blanks on compliance questions as if they were in compliance. We
found that over 700 inspection records for firms that handled
prohibited proteins had blanks on compliance questions. In its
response to the Chairman, FDA did not disclose that some of those
records contained inspector comments stating that the firms were not
in compliance. Nor did FDA disclose that, at the time it responded to
the Chairman, it was aware of the need for “significant improvements
in its data collection system for enforcing the feed ban.” As a result, we
believe the data were misleading.
3. We believe that the nature and severity of the problems we found in
FDA’s management, oversight, and enforcement of the feed ban point
to insufficient attention by FDA management. Moreover, the fact that
FDA gave all headquarters responsibility to one individual—as an addon
to that individual’s other duties—is further evidence of the
relatively low priority FDA gave to its regulatory responsibility.
4. Although FDA’s field inspectors and state inspectors carried out the
inspections, FDA headquarters tracked overall compliance with the
feed ban and brought together data on FDA field and state compliance
inspections. In meetings with FDA officials, we were repeatedly told
Page 52 GAO-02-183 Mad Cow Disease
Appendix II: Comments from the Department
of Health and Human Services
that a single person had designed the program and the database to
monitor inspections and, until January 2001, made all enforcement
decisions. While administrative and other support may have been
available for this person, the overall design and direction of feed ban
implementation rested with this individual. Moreover, because FDA
had no other information system, the database that individual
developed was FDA’s only mechanism to monitor the program and
track feed ban compliance.
5. Although FDA cites a number of high-level interagency policy and
technical initiatives aimed at ensuring that BSE-risk products do not
enter the United States, our recommendation is grounded in problems
we found at the operational level. First, the high error rates in
importer-provided information found by Customs are unacceptable.
Second, the ever-increasing volume of imported shipments strains
inspection resources at both USDA and FDA. Third, we observed or
were told by federal field personnel about problems affecting USDA
and FDA staff responsible for reviewing import documentation and
conducting inspections of shipments. FDA staff told us that they need
integrated information technologies, dedicated inspection facilities,
and additional staff to effectively address their workload.
6. We do not agree that FDA has made extensive progress implementing
our recommendation, based on the fact that it periodically meets with
states on BSE-related issues and has increased the number of states
under contracts to conduct inspections. With regard to its progress in
identifying the universe of firms subject to the ban, our work shows
that FDA’s efforts have not been successful. In reports, FDA states that
the number of on-farm feed mills, feed blenders, and feed haulers is
still unknown. FDA also asserts that the feed industry has undergone
extensive consolidation, but it has not reconciled the number of firms
inspected with industry or state estimates. Although FDA asserts it has
incorporated into state contracts a requirement to identify firms
subject to the ban, the contracts we reviewed did not include such
provisions. Moreover, as recently as May 2001, we found that FDA was
adding to its database information on inspections conducted in 1998 by
states under contract.
7. FDA agrees on the need for a comprehensive strategy for BSE but
points out that it began an enforcement strategy in 1998. However, our
review shows that the strategy did not contain criteria and timeframes
for specific enforcement actions against firms that fail to comply with
the feed ban, as our recommendation envisions. FDA’s contention that
Page 53 GAO-02-183 Mad Cow Disease
Appendix II: Comments from the Department
of Health and Human Services
its initial approach was to educate firms does not explain its failure to
take action against firms found out of compliance on repeated
inspections. Now that the feed ban has been in effect for more than 4
years, FDA points out that inspections have resulted in more than 200
recalls. However, those recalls consist of actions taken by 22 firms,
one of which accounted for about 150 recalls. By FDA’s own estimates,
more than 300 firms are out of compliance.
8. Regardless of variations in state laws, FDA has instructed states to
provide specific information on the feed ban inspections they conduct.
We believe FDA should request these states to also include
information on enforcement actions taken as a result of those feed ban
9. While we agree that FDA has initiated efforts to increase the integrity
and usefulness of the BSE inspection data, it has not taken the steps
necessary to ensure that the inspection data are accurate and complete
and recorded in a timely manner. For example, neither the steps listed
in FDA’s letter nor the terms of the contracts we reviewed include
periodic assessment of error rates or controls to help ensure data
entered are complete and accurate. Moreover, FDA’s response does
not address how the data on past BSE inspections will be merged with
the Field Accomplishment Compliance Tracking System. Many of the
firms have never before been subject to FDA oversight and would not
have such control numbers to effectively merge the old and new data.
Also, FDA has not included steps to capture timeliness of inspections,
enforcement actions, and follow up, especially for past inspections.
Page 54 GAO-02-183 Mad Cow Disease
Working Group Report on the Assessment of the Geographical BSE-Risk (GBR
III) of USA 2004 ''extremely/very unstable BSE/cattle system''
EFSA Scientific Report (2004) 3, 1-6 on the Assessment of the
Geographical BSE Risk of Geographical BSE Risk of United States of
Senator Michael Machado from California
''USDA does not know what's going on''.
''USDA is protecting the industry''.
''SHOULD the state of California step in''
''nobody has ever ask us to comment''
''they don't want us to comment''
''they never ask''
i tried to see Venemon, after Candian cow was discovered with BSE.
went to see lyle. after talking with him... absolute ignorance... then
should see Venemon... it was clear his entire policy was to get cattle
bonless beef prods
across the border... nothing else mattered...
his aids confirmed this... 5 times i tried to see Venemon, never worked...
eventually met with carl rove the political... he is the one that
with Venemon... just trying to give you a sense of the distance... healh
was never contacted...
yes i believe that prions are bad to eat and you can die from them...END
Dr. Stan bashing Ann Veneman - 3 minutes
Recall Authority and Mad Cow Disease: Is the Current System Good for
Tuesday, February 24, 2004
AGRICULTURE AND WATER RESOURCES HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES AND SELECT
COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT OVERSIGHT - MACHADO, ORTIZ, and SPEIER, Chairs
Choose a RealPlayer video --->
Opening Statement by Senator Michael Machado
Elisa Odibashian - Consumers Union
Anthony Iton - Alemeda County Health
USDA's "memorandum of understanding"
Dave Louthan - Killed the Mad Cow
Dennis Laycraft - Canadian Cattlemen's Association
Stanley Prusiner - Discoverer of Prions
Steven DeArmond - Professor of Neuropathology
Entire 5 hour hearing - The California Channel
(scroll down to "022404 Senate Info-Hearing")
TODAYS MARKET NEWS;
> The USDA is not doing anything to help prevent Mad Cow disease and if
> the media covered the facts about this issue demand for cattle
> products would drop into the abyss.
Meats: Great Day in the livestock markets yesterday with most contracts
posting sharp losses at the close. Much more is expected. Oct. Live
Cattle near term target is 83 and if the level is broken massive
liquidation is expected. Oct. Feeder Cattle is heading for the 110 level
and 104 level supports should be broken over the next 4 to 6 weeks. The
USDA is not doing anything to help prevent Mad Cow disease and if the
media covered the facts about this issue demand for cattle products
would drop into the abyss. The USDA points the blame at Canada for the
export ban to Japan (very similar to the massive blackout in New York
City blamed again on Canada). In fact the USDA does not have any
concrete testing for Mad Cow disease for the safety of U.S. citizens let
alone exports to Japan and the rest of the world. A woman in Seattle has
contracted and died from a similar stran of Mad Cow disease, dementia
and was being investigated by one of the nation's leading experts in
prion diseases. Cattle testing is voluntary and the corporations are
after a buck plain and simple. More selling ahead. Traders and more
importantly consumers should be highly concerned about the cattle
industry. Cattle from Texas, Colorado, and New Mexico have cattle
quarantined for suffering from VS stran. Record amounts of cattle
waiting in Brazil and Canada the market is trading at Record Highs huge
potential on the downside and we are sticking with long-term Puts. Hogs
consolidating after recent losses and should begin the next wave lower
soon. Pork Bellies are giving a small bounce after severe oversold
by Traders Exchange Corporation
DAILY COMMODITY MARKET COMMENTARY Wednesday, August 25, 2004 14:13 GMT
WE MUST take back our Government from the industries that have been
WE MUST take politics out of science and human health matters...
Terry S. Singeltary Sr., Bacliff, TEXAS USA