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From: TSS ()
Subject: STATEMENT BY AGRICULTURE SECRETARY MIKE JOHANNS REGARDING RESUMPTION OF U.S. MAD COW BEEF TRADE WITH HONG KONG
Date: December 29, 2005 at 2:01 pm PST

Release No. 0564.05
Contact:
USDA Press Office (202) 720-4623


STATEMENT BY AGRICULTURE SECRETARY MIKE JOHANNS REGARDING RESUMPTION OF U.S. BEEF TRADE WITH HONG KONG
December 29, 2005

"We are extremely pleased with the reopening of another important market for U.S. beef exports and we anticipate that trade will quickly begin. I applaud the Hong Kong government for making trade decisions based on internationally accepted scientific standards. This is one more step toward normalized international beef trade that will also help further the close bilateral trade relationship of the United States and Hong Kong.

"The agreement announced today will allow the United States to export boneless beef from cattle less than 30 months of age to Hong Kong under the Beef Export Verification Program. This agreement follows Hong Kong's determination that U.S. control measures effectively ensure the safety of our beef. USDA has worked closely with Hong Kong and others around the world to remove restrictions on imports of U.S. beef.

"In 2003, the United States exported $90 million worth of beef and beef products to Hong Kong. It was the fifth largest market for U.S. beef products so today's announcement is welcome news for our producers. Since the closing of many U.S. export markets in December 2003, the United States has recovered access to markets valued at more than $2.8 billion, or 74 percent of the 2003 export value of $3.9 billion. USDA will continue to focus our efforts on opening additional markets in Asia and around the world by promoting the use of science-based regulations in global beef trade."

http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/!ut/p/_s.7_0_A/7_0_1OB/.cmd/ad/.ar/sa.retrievecontent/.c/6_2_1UH/.ce/7_2_5JM/.p/5_2_4TQ/.d/2/_th/J_2_9D/_s.7_0_A/7_0_1OB?PC_7_2_5JM_contentid=2005%2F12%2F0564.xml&PC_7_2_5JM_navtype=RT&PC_7_2_5JM_parentnav=LATEST_RELEASES&PC_7_2_5JM_navid=NEWS_RELEASE#7_2_5JM

Consumers should make own decisions on U.S. beef: farm minister
KUSHIRO, Japan, Dec. 29 KYODO
Agriculture minister Shoichi Nakagawa said Thursday consumers should make their own decisions on whether or not to eat U.S. beef even though the government is to take responsibility for checking the safety of the meat prior to its sale.
There is still significant public concern about the safety of beef from the United States, whose import ban was lifted earlier this month. The ban was imposed two years ago after a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, was confirmed in the country.


http://home.kyodo.co.jp/modules/fstStory/index.php?storyid=221961

EDITORIAL

Perception of safe beef

The government lifted a ban on imports of U.S. and Canadian beef last week. The ban had been in force for Canadian beef since the discovery in May 2003 of a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), popularly known as mad cow disease, in that country. The ban on U.S. beef followed in December of the same year when BSE was found in a U.S. cow born in Canada. Now, the duty to enforce preventive measures rests with U.S. and Canadian authorities. The Japanese government, for its part, must make sure that the two countries fulfill their duty.

The government's decision is based on a final report of a BSE panel of the Cabinet Office's Food Safety Commission. The decision states that U.S. and Canadian beef will be as safe as domestic beef if the following conditions are met: Slaughtered cattle for export to Japan are less than 21 months old, and special risk materials (SRM) such as brains and spinal cords are removed. (Prions, the infectious agents of BSE, exist in high concentration in these parts.)

What is most important about the report is that it does not scientifically ensure the safety of North American beef. The health and agriculture ministries asked only that the panel assess BSE risks if the United States and Canada exported beef under 21 months old with SRM removed. The report concludes that BSE risks are extremely small if it is assumed that export programs will strictly follow preventive measures.

Given the background of the BSE panel's work and the government decision, it is all the more important that the government verify the safety of imported U.S. and Canadian beef. Only beef from facilities that have been certified by U.S. and Canadian authorities can be exported to Japan. There are expected to be about 50 such facilities. A team of experts has already been sent to North America to inspect meatpacking plants and will compile a report by the end of the month. The government says it will dispatch a team every month. Team members need to carry out inspections in a manner that will enhance public trust in imported beef.

Although the government has approved the resumption of imports of North American beef, Japanese consumers do not appear to be enthusiastic about buying and eating it. A poll conducted in early December showed that 75.2 percent of those surveyed would not eat U.S. beef, while 21.2 percent would like to eat it. Of those who said they would not eat U.S. beef, 62.5 percent cited worries about safety.

Behind these consumer attitudes may be the fact that Japan introduced a system of examining the meat of all slaughtered cattle after a BSE case was detected in Japan in September 2001, but that the U.S. did not adopt the same system. (Although cattle younger than 21 months were excluded from the BSE screening beginning last August, in Japan screening of all cattle continues on a voluntary basis.) Experts may term Japanese feelings as unscientific. In fact, the panel's report says BSE may be found in one out of every 1 million heads of cattle in the U.S., or slightly lower than in Japan, and in five or six out of every 1 million heads of cattle in Canada, or the same rate as in Japan. But Japanese consumers do not live in the world of scientists. Honesty is the best way to win their trust.

In August, the U.S. Agriculture Department said inspectors had found 1,036 violations of rules pertaining to SRM removal. Exporters need to make public as much data as possible on meat processing to inform Japanese consumers about how things are handled in slaughterhouses and packing plants. At shops, information showing the origin of beef should be supplied to consumers. Under the Japanese Agricultural Standards Law, fresh meat such as steak needs to carry information about its origin. Products close to fresh meat such as a mix of minced beef and pork, seasoned beef and surface-broiled beef will be subjected to such requirement from October 2006. Under a guideline of the agriculture ministry, restaurant chains are voluntarily listing the origin of their meat. If meat shops and restaurants honestly identify North American beef as such, it should help win consumers' trust and may lead to increased consumption. Government surveillance is called for in this matter.

The BSE committee's report contains a finding that deserves attention to improve the slaughtering process at home. It notes that pithing, destroying the spinal cord by inserting a needle into the vertebral canal -- a process carried out on 80 percent of slaughtered cattle -- increases the risk of prions' contaminating meat. The government needs to be vigilant toward ensuring the safety of domestic as well as North American beef.

The Japan Times: Dec. 22, 2005
(C) All rights reserved

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?ed20051222a1.htm

EDITORIAL/ Resuming beef imports
12/13/2005

Beef imports from the United States and Canada will resume for the first time in two years since the outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as mad cow disease, in North America.

The ban is being lifted because the government's Food Safety Commission has concluded that safety of beef from cattle aged up to 20 months can be maintained at the same level as domestic beef by removing risky materials, such as brains and spinal cords. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare announced the resumption of beef imports on Monday.

The commission added an unusual condition, demanding regular on-site inspections of beef-processing facilities in the United States and Canada. The commission recommends the Japanese government temporarily stop imports if evidence of inadequate management arises.

Unless the conditions for lifting the import ban are strictly followed, it will be impossible to ascertain the degree of risk to human health. The Food Safety Commission provided detailed, specific measures to prevent any negative influence on people's health for that reason. The government must take the recommendations seriously.

Both ministries said they would send food sanitation and animal quarantine experts overseas to monitor the implementation of the conditions. North America is huge, but this is an issue of food safety. The ministries should widen the scope of regular inspections, and report details to the public.

U.S. and Canadian beef is expected to reach Japan by the end of the year. It will likely be on store shelves and appear on menus in restaurants. Individual consumers can decide whether to eat the imported beef, but they cannot choose unless there is accurate information on where the products came from.

Under the current law, the country of origin must be displayed on fresh food, including raw meat, and there are harsh penalties for offenses. However, mixed ground meat and processed food have looser labeling regulations, and it is up to individual businesses and restaurants to provide the information.

The government must stand firm by increasing the frequency of on-site inspections and publicly revealing any violations immediately. Sellers should also provide information proactively.

Needless to say, it is the U.S. and Canadian governments that are responsible for observing the conditions. To regain the confidence of the Japanese market, it is essential that they respond sincerely to Japan's conditions.

The United States wants to raise the upper age limit of the cattle to 30 months, but that cannot be accepted because the disease has been found in cattle 21 to 23 months old in Japan.

BSE has highlighted the weaknesses in Japan's food safety management. The main focus of systems of government control have shifted from protecting food producers and enforcing laws on businesses, to ensuring the safety of food from the consumer point of view. Yet when looking at the government's response to the beef issue, one gets the impression that a solid foundation has yet to be established.

While the food safety panel has been praised for being transparent and for disclosing all discussions, weaknesses are evident in regard to its independence. The secretariat is mostly made up of bureaucrats sent by the agriculture and health ministries, and is susceptible to external influence.

The process for communicating risks and exchanging opinions between consumers, producers, researchers, media and other parties is still immature. Continuing efforts are essential, including training specialists to explain difficult issues in plain language.

--The Asahi Shimbun, Dec. 12(IHT/Asahi: December 13,2005)


http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200512130115.html

Working Group Report on

the Assessment of the Geographical BSE-Risk (GBR) of

CANADA

2004

snip...

4.3 Risk that BSE infectivity was recycled and propagated

A risk that BSE-infectivity was recycled and propagated exists since a processing risk

first appeared; i.e. in the early 90s. Until today this risk persists and increases fast

because of the extremely unstable BSE/cattle system in Canada.

5. CONCLUSION ON THE GEOGRAPHICAL BSE-RISK

5.1 The current GBR as function of the past stability and challenge

The current geographical BSE-risk (GBR) level is III, i.e. it is confirmed at a lower level

that domestic cattle are (clinically or pre-clinically) infected with the BSE-agent.

This assessment deviates from the previous assessment (SSC opinion, 2000) because at

that time several exporting countries were not considered a potential risk.

snip...

full text;


http://www.efsa.eu.int/science/efsa_scientific_reports/gbr_assessments/scr_annexes/563/sr02_biohaz02_canada_report_annex_en1.pdf


EFSA Scientific Report on the Assessment of the Geographical BSE-Risk (GBR) of the United States of America (USA)
Publication date: 20 August 2004
Adopted July 2004 (Question N° EFSA-Q-2003-083)

Report

Summary
Summary of the Scientific Report

The European Food Safety Authority and its Scientific Expert Working Group on the Assessment of the Geographical Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) Risk (GBR) were asked by the European Commission (EC) to provide an up-to-date scientific report on the GBR in the United States of America, i.e. the likelihood of the presence of one or more cattle being infected with BSE, pre-clinically as well as clinically, in USA. This scientific report addresses the GBR of USA as assessed in 2004 based on data covering the period 1980-2003.

The BSE agent was probably imported into USA and could have reached domestic cattle in the middle of the eighties. These cattle imported in the mid eighties could have been rendered in the late eighties and therefore led to an internal challenge in the early nineties. It is possible that imported meat and bone meal (MBM) into the USA reached domestic cattle and leads to an internal challenge in the early nineties.

A processing risk developed in the late 80s/early 90s when cattle imports from BSE risk countries were slaughtered or died and were processed (partly) into feed, together with some imports of MBM. This risk continued to exist, and grew significantly in the mid 90’s when domestic cattle, infected by imported MBM, reached processing. Given the low stability of the system, the risk increased over the years with continued imports of cattle and MBM from BSE risk countries.

EFSA concludes that the current GBR level of USA is III, i.e. it is likely but not confirmed that domestic cattle are (clinically or pre-clinically) infected with the BSE-agent. As long as there are no significant changes in rendering or feeding, the stability remains extremely/very unstable. Thus, the probability of cattle to be (pre-clinically or clinically) infected with the BSE-agent persistently increases.


http://www.efsa.eu.int/science/efsa_scientific_reports/gbr_assessments/573_en.html

SUMMARY

Summary of Scientific Report
http://www.efsa.eu.int
1 of 1
Scientific Report of the European Food Safety Authority
on the Assessment of the Geographical BSE-Risk (GBR) of
United States of America (USA)
Question N° EFSA-Q-2003-083
Adopted July 2004
Summary of scientific report
The European Food Safety Authority and its Scientific Expert Working Group on the
Assessment of the Geographical Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) Risk (GBR)
were asked by the European Commission (EC) to provide an up-to-date scientific report on
the GBR in the United States of America, i.e. the likelihood of the presence of one or more
cattle being infected with BSE, pre-clinically as well as clinically, in USA. This scientific
report addresses the GBR of USA as assessed in 2004 based on data covering the period
1980-2003.
The BSE agent was probably imported into USA and could have reached domestic cattle in
the middle of the eighties. These cattle imported in the mid eighties could have been rendered
in the late eighties and therefore led to an internal challenge in the early nineties. It is possible
that imported meat and bone meal (MBM) into the USA reached domestic cattle and leads to
an internal challenge in the early nineties.
A processing risk developed in the late 80s/early 90s when cattle imports from BSE risk
countries were slaughtered or died and were processed (partly) into feed, together with some
imports of MBM. This risk continued to exist, and grew significantly in the mid 90’s when
domestic cattle, infected by imported MBM, reached processing. Given the low stability of
the system, the risk increased over the years with continued imports of cattle and MBM from
BSE risk countries.
EFSA concludes that the current GBR level of USA is III, i.e. it is likely but not confirmed
that domestic cattle are (clinically or pre-clinically) infected with the BSE-agent. As long as
there are no significant changes in rendering or feeding, the stability remains extremely/very
unstable. Thus, the probability of cattle to be (pre-clinically or clinically) infected with the
BSE-agent persistently increases.
Key words: BSE, geographical risk assessment, GBR, USA, third countries

http://www.efsa.eu.int/science/efsa_scientific_reports/gbr_assessments/573/sr03_biohaz02_usa_report_summary_en1.pdf

REPORT (6 PAGES)

snip...

EFSA Scientific Report (2004) 3, 1-6 on the Assessment of the Geographical BSE Risk of
Conclusions
The European Food Safety Authority concludes:
1. The BSE agent was probably imported into USA and could have reached domestic
cattle in the middle of the eighties. This cattle imported in the mid eighties could have
been rendered in the late eighties and therefore led to an internal challenge in the early
nineties. It is possible that meat and bone meal (MBM) imported into the USA
reached domestic cattle and lead to an internal challenge in the early nineties.
2. A processing risk developed in the late 80s/early 90s when cattle imports from BSE
risk countries were slaughtered or died and were processed (partly) into feed, together
with some imports of MBM. This risk continued to exist, and grew significantly in the
mid 90’s when domestic cattle, infected by imported MBM, reached processing.
Given the low stability of the system, the risk increased over the years with continued
imports of cattle and MBM from BSE risk countries.
3. The current geographical BSE risk (GBR) level is III, i.e. it is likely but not confirmed
that domestic cattle are (clinically or pre-clinically) infected with the BSE-agent.
4. This assessment deviates from the previous assessment (SSC opinion, 2000) because
at that time several exporting countries were not considered a potential risk.
5. It is also worth noting that the current GBR conclusions are not dependent on the large
exchange of imports between USA and Canada. External challenge due to exports to
the USA from European countries varied from moderate to high. These challenges
indicate that it was likely that BSE infectivity was introduced into the North American
continent.
6. EFSA and its Scientific Expert Working group on GBR are concerned that the
available information was not confirmed by inspection missions as performed by the
Food and Veterinary office (FVO – DG SANCO) in Member States and other third
countries. They recommend including, as far as feasible, BSE-related aspects in
future inspection missions.
Expected development of the GBR
As long as there are no significant changes in rendering or feeding, the stability remains
extremely/very unstable. Thus, the probability of cattle to be (pre-clinically or clinically)
infected with the BSE-agent persistently increases.
A table summarising the reasons for the current assessment is given in the table below

snip...

http://www.efsa.eu.int/science/efsa_scientific_reports/gbr_assessments/573/sr03_biohaz02_usa_report_v2_en1.pdf


EFSA Scientific Report on the Assessment of the Geographical BSE-Risk (GBR) of Mexico
Last updated: 08 September 2004
Adopted July 2004 (Question N° EFSA-Q-2003-083)

Report

http://www.efsa.eu.int
3 of 6
Conclusions
The European Food Safety Authority concludes:
1. The BSE agent was probably imported into Mexico and could have reached domestic
cattle. These cattle imported could have been rendered and therefore led to an internal
EFSA Scientific Report (2004) 4, 1-6 on the Assessment of the Geographical BSE Risk of
challenge in the mid to late 1990’s. It is possible that imported MBM into Mexico
reached domestic cattle and leads to an internal challenge around 1993.
2. It is likely that BSE infectivity entered processing at the time of imported ‘at - risk’
MBM (1993) and at the time of slaughter of imported live ‘at - risk’ cattle (mid to late
1990s). The high level of external challenge is maintained throughout the reference
period, and the system has not been made stable. Thus it is likely that BSE infectivity
was recycled and propagated from approximately 1993. The risk has since grown
consistently due to a maintained internal and external challenge and lack of a stable
system.
3. The current geographical BSE risk (GBR) level is III, i.e. it is likely but not confirmed
that domestic cattle are (clinically or pre-clinically) infected with the BSE-agent.
4. EFSA and its Scientific Expert Working group on GBR are concerned that the
available information was not confirmed by inspection missions as performed by the
Food and Veterinary office (FVO – DG SANCO) in Member States and other third
countries. They recommend including, as far as feasible, BSE-related aspects in
future inspection missions.

http://www.efsa.eu.int/science/efsa_scientific_reports/gbr_assessments/565/sr04_biohaz02_mexico_report_v2_en1.pdf

Summary

Summary of Scientific Report
http://www.efsa.eu.int
1 of 2
Scientific Report of the European Food Safety Authority
on the Assessment of the Geographical BSE-Risk (GBR) of
MEXICO
Question N° EFSA-Q-2003-083
Adopted July 2004
SUMMARY OF SCIENTIFIC REPORT
The European Food Safety Authority and its Scientific Expert Working Group on the
Assessment of the Geographical Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) Risk (GBR)
were asked by the European Commission (EC) to provide an up-to-date scientific report on
the GBR in Mexico, i.e. the likelihood of the presence of one or more cattle being infected
with BSE, pre-clinically as well as clinically, in Mexico. This scientific report addresses the
GBR of Mexico as assessed in 2004 based on data covering the period 1980-2003.
The BSE agent was probably imported into Mexico and could have reached domestic cattle.
These cattle imported could have been rendered and therefore led to an internal challenge in
the mid to late 1990s. It is possible that imported meat and bone meal (MBM) into Mexico
reached domestic cattle and leads to an internal challenge around 1993.
It is likely that BSE infectivity entered processing at the time of imported ‘at - risk’ MBM
(1993) and at the time of slaughter of imported live ‘at - risk’ cattle (mid to late 1990s). The
high level of external challenge is maintained throughout the reference period, and the system
has not been made stable. Thus it is likely that BSE infectivity was recycled and propagated
from approximately 1993. The risk has since grown consistently due to a maintained internal
and external challenge and lack of a stable system.
EFSA concludes that the current geographical BSE risk (GBR) level is III, i.e. it is likely
but not confirmed that domestic cattle are (clinically or pre-clinically) infected with the BSEagent.
The GBR is likely to increase due to continued internal and external challenge, coupled
with a very unstable system.
Key words: BSE, geographical risk assessment, GBR, Mexico, third countries
Summary of Scientific Report
http://www.efsa.eu.int
2 of 2


http://www.efsa.eu.int/science/efsa_scientific_reports/gbr_assessments/565/sr04_biohaz02_mexico_report_summary_en1.pdf


Summary of the Scientific Report

The European Food Safety Authority and its Scientific Expert Working Group on the Assessment of the Geographical Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) Risk (GBR) were asked by the European Commission (EC) to provide an up-to-date scientific report on the GBR in Mexico, i.e. the likelihood of the presence of one or more cattle being infected with BSE, pre-clinically as well as clinically, in Mexico. This scientific report addresses the GBR of Mexico as assessed in 2004 based on data covering the period 1980-2003.

The BSE agent was probably imported into Mexico and could have reached domestic cattle. These cattle imported could have been rendered and therefore led to an internal challenge in the mid to late 1990s. It is possible that imported meat and bone meal (MBM) into Mexico reached domestic cattle and leads to an internal challenge around 1993.

It is likely that BSE infectivity entered processing at the time of imported ‘at - risk’ MBM (1993) and at the time of slaughter of imported live ‘at - risk’ cattle (mid to late 1990s). The high level of external challenge is maintained throughout the reference period, and the system has not been made stable. Thus it is likely that BSE infectivity was recycled and propagated from approximately 1993. The risk has since grown consistently due to a maintained internal and external challenge and lack of a stable system.

EFSA concludes that the current geographical BSE risk (GBR) level is III, i.e. it is likely but not confirmed that domestic cattle are (clinically or pre-clinically) infected with the BSE-agent. The GBR is likely to increase due to continued internal and external challenge, coupled with a very unstable system.

http://www.efsa.eu.int/science/efsa_scientific_reports/gbr_assessments/565_en.html

ONE YEAR PREVIOUSLY ;

From: Terry S. Singeltary Sr. [flounder@wt.net]
Sent: Tuesday, July 29, 2003 1:03 PM
To: fdadockets@oc.fda.gov
Cc: ggraber@cvm.fda.gov; Linda.Grassie@fda.gov; BSE-L
Subject: Docket No. 2003N-0312 Animal Feed Safety System [TSS SUBMISSION
TO DOCKET 2003N-0312]

Greetings FDA,

snip...

PLUS, if the USA continues to flagrantly ignore the _documented_ science to date about the known TSEs in the USA (let alone the undocumented TSEs in cattle), it is my opinion, every other Country that is dealing with BSE/TSE should boycott the USA and demand that the SSC reclassify the USA BSE GBR II risk assessment to BSE/TSE GBR III 'IMMEDIATELY'. for the SSC to _flounder_ any longer on this issue, should also be regarded with great suspicion as well. NOT to leave out the OIE and it's terribly flawed system of disease surveillance. the OIE should make a move on CWD in the USA, and make a risk assessment on this as a threat to human health. the OIE should also change the mathematical formula for testing of disease. this (in my opinion and others) is terribly flawed as well. to think that a sample survey of 400 or so cattle in a population of 100 million, to think this will find anything, especially after seeing how many TSE tests it took Italy and other Countries to find 1 case of BSE (1 million rapid TSE test in less than 2 years, to find 102 BSE cases), should be proof enough to make drastic changes of this system. the OIE criteria for BSE Country classification and it's interpretation is very problematic. a text that is suppose to give guidelines, but is not understandable, cannot be considered satisfactory. the OIE told me 2 years ago that they were concerned with CWD, but said any changes might take years. well, two years have come and gone, and no change in relations with CWD as a human health risk. if we wait for politics and science to finally make this connection, we very well may die before any decisions
or changes are made. this is not acceptable. we must take the politics and the industry out of any final decisions of the Scientific community. this has been the problem from day one with this environmental man made death sentence. some of you may think i am exaggerating, but you only have to see it once, you only have to watch a loved one die from this one time, and you will never forget, OR forgive...yes, i am still very angry... but the transmission studies DO NOT lie, only the politicians and the industry do... and they are still lying to this day...TSS


http://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/dockets/03n0312/03N-0312_emc-000001.txt

Terry S. Singeltary Sr. P.O. BOX 42 Bacliff, TEXAS USA




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