The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) today announced a technical meeting to present and receive comments on an updated risk assessment for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the United States.
The technical meeting to discuss the updated model will be held from 1 – 4 p.m. on Tuesday, July 25, 2006, in the Jefferson Auditorium of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) South Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, D.C., 20250.Continue Reading FSIS to hold a technical meeting to discuss the updated risk assessment for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy

Libby Quaid of the Associated Press reports that despite the confirmation of a third case of mad cow disease, the government intends to scale back testing for the brain-wasting disorder blamed for the deaths of more than 150 people in Europe.
The Agriculture Department boosted its surveillance after finding the first case of mad cow disease in the United States in 2003. About 1,000 tests are run daily, up from about 55 daily in 2003.
The testing program detected an infected cow in Alabama last week, and further analysis confirmed Monday that the animal had mad cow disease.
Still, a reduction in testing has been in the works for months. The department’s chief veterinarian, John Clifford, mentioned it when he announced the new case of mad cow disease.Continue Reading Government to scale back mad cow testing

The Canadian Press reports that federal agriculture inspectors are looking into the possibility of another case of mad cow disease, a spokesman for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said Sunday.
“We have an ongoing testing program for BSE and that means from time to time we undertake confirmatory tests when we come up with a suspicious sample,” said Mark Van Dusen.
“We are undergoing such testing on a suspicious sample.”
Mr. Van Dusen said the animal must go to a Winnipeg lab for final tests. Inspectors should know within 48 hours if they have another case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy on their hands.Continue Reading Ottawa looks into possible mad cow case

CBC.CA News reports that federal inspectors are testing an animal that is suspected of having mad cow disease, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency says.
Mark Van Dusen, a spokesperson for the federal agency, told the Canadian Press on Sunday that inspectors should know within two days whether they’ve discovered the country’s fourth case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).
The animal was to undergo testing at a lab in Winnipeg.
“We have an ongoing testing program for BSE and that means from time to time we undertake confirmatory tests when we come up with a suspicious sample,” Van Dusen told the news agency.Continue Reading Inspectors test possible BSE case

Susan L. Burke of eDiets reports that mad cow disease has thousands turning up their noses at burgers. Meat sales are down, and moms don’t know whether they can take their kids to the fast-food playground. Consumers are all atwitter, frightened that they’ll fall victim to the disease that causes cows to fall down and become paralyzed. But, health experts want you to know that there is a much larger threat to public health than eating beef.
In fact, only one person has come down with the human form of mad cow disease in the U.S., and it’s not linked to the one cow that they’ve isolated with the disease in this country. Although there’s a problem with beef, it’s not from mad cow. And, there’s a problem with food in general.
Food Borne Illness is a Big, Deadly Problem.
Food borne illnesses dwarf any concern consumers may have about beef and mad cow, because what you can’t see can kill you. The Center for Disease Control’s website states that food safety is a huge problem in the U.S. The latest statistics are that 76 million people get sick, more than 300,000 are hospitalized and 5,000 Americans die each year from food borne illness.
Meat is only one cause of food borne illnesses. The largest outbreak of food borne illness last year came from Hepatitis A, transmitted from tainted green onions, grown in Mexico. Cantaloupe, grapes and raspberries from South America were all linked to different outbreaks of Hepatitis A last year. The green onion outbreak struck hard–at least three deaths were attributed and at least 540 people were infected. These bacterial and viral diseases–Hepatitis A, E. coli, campylobacter and cryptosporidium–all may be transmitted by eating unwashed fruit and vegetables.Continue Reading How now mad cow: real food safety concerns

In a recent CanWest News story, Joe Schwarcz asks “what are you more worried about eating, beef from a hamburger joint or a sandwich made with alfalfa sprouts at your local health food emporium?”
Scientifically, this is a “no contest.” I know what you’re thinking. Eat beef and risk mad cow disease. Or, eat beef and risk E. coli 0157:H7. After all, didn’t 120 or so people die in England from mad cow disease? And what about the four children who died from eating tainted hamburgers in the famous “Jack In The Box” episode in 1993? Yes, both of these are awful numbers. But the chance of any individual being affected is extremely low. In England, two million infected cows ended up in the food stream and that resulted in about 10 deaths a year. In Canada we are talking about one cow that never ended up in the food system. As far as the Jack In The Box episode goes, the meat wasn’t properly cooked. That’s it. Cooking hamburger to an internal temperature of about 70 degrees Celsius eliminates the risk of bacterial contamination.
Now let’s turn to those sprouts that adorn many a salad and sandwich in places that feature so-called health foods. The largest recorded case of E. coli 0157:H7 infection in history had nothing to do with meat. It had to do with radish sprouts. In 1996 in Japan 6,000 people became sick and 17 died from eating raw radish sprouts. Can you imagine the publicity this would have garnered if meat had been involved? And it doesn’t only happen in Japan. In the US since 1995, 15 outbreaks of Salmonella infection and two of E. coli 0157:H7 have been associated with sprouts.Continue Reading The Right Chemistry: Mad cows and sprouts

David Kravets of the Associated Press reports that the U.S. Department of Agriculture insists it’s safe to resume the imports of Candian cattle, despite a ruling by a Montana federal judge who sided with U.S. ranchers warning about dire economic and health consequences from a mad cow outbreak in the United States.
A panel from the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals travels to Seattle on Wednesday to hear the Bush administration’s challenge to the judge’s ruling.
Mad cow disease is the common name for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE. People who eat meat tainted with BSE can contract a degenerative, fatal brain disorder called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. More than 150 people have died from it following a 1986 outbreak in the United Kingdom.Continue Reading Amid mad cow concerns, court considers Canada cattle imports