Washington, D.C. - Today's announcement that an animal has tested positive for BSE should not cause consumer concern because our beef is, and has been, completely safe, says AMI President and CEO Patrick Boyle. “The food supply remains safe because consumption of beef has never been shown to cause BSE-related human illness,” Boyle noted. The positive result was confirmed by the BSE Reference Laboratory in Weybridge, England and is the second case of BSE diagnosed in the United States.
“This test result should
be seen for what it truly is - proof positive
that the surveillance system for BSE in the
United States is working. The enhanced testing
program that the government started on June 1,
2004 is part of the multi-firewall system that
this country has undertaken for nearly 15 years
to staunch BSE,” Boyle added. “In other words,
the revelation that a new case of BSE has been
found should have no net effect on consumers or
producers,” he added.
The United States
has been conducting random BSE tests of its
cattle for over a decade. The enhanced
surveillance program, which has tested more
than 388,000 animals since June 2004, is a tool
used by the government to gain scientific
knowledge about the prevalence of BSE in the
United States and to gauge the effectiveness of
methods we’ve used to combat it. “It’s
critical to not confuse the test results with
the issue of food safety, since all parts from
all cattle that could contain BSE are uniformly
removed and eliminated from the human food
supply at processing,” he added.
has been much confusion about the outbreak of
BSE in Europe and how it spread to the human
population. Boyle called likening the scenario
in the United States to that of Europe
“comparing apples to oranges” because people in
Europe became ill after eating certain tissues
from infected animals – notably their brains -
not realizing that this posed a risk. By
contrast, in the United States all tissues that
could pose a risk to humans if an animal has
BSE are removed by law and not permitted in the
human food supply.”
Since the beginning
of the enhanced testing program, scientists and
industry officials believed that a few
additional cases are likely to appear in the
course of the expanded testing. "To me, one,
two, three, five other cases is not a crisis,"
William Hueston, a University of Minnesota
veterinary epidemiologist and a member of a BSE
advisory panel convened at the request of USDA
Secretary Ann Veneman after the first BSE
incident last December.
should be confident that the food supply is
safe because we’ve been fighting BSE in the
United States for over a decade by taking
proactive steps to stop both the spread of the
disease among cattle and to ensure that it
doesn’t enter the food supply,” Boyle added.
Those steps include:
* The mandatory
requirement to remove the tissues from animals
that can pose a risk to humans.
implementation of import controls on cattle and
beef from countries with BSE.
* The FDA
ban on feeding ruminant protein back to
ruminants to prevent BSE from spreading among
* The USDA’s enhanced testing
program to detect and contain BSE when it is
found in the United States.
these strategies, experts at the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention and the United
States Department of Agriculture say the risk
of BSE to humans is near zero.
and media can obtain more information on BSE at
Beef is Perfectly Safe: Positive Test Result Should Not Cause ConcernFriday, June 24, 2005
For more information contact:
Vice President, Public Affairs
Sr. Vice President, Public Affairs