FSnet Jan. 1/04

U.S. hints at delay in reopening border to some Canadian beef products

Our beef among safest: peters; the agriculture minister says; The U.S. should emulate Ontario safeguards

Canada exec denies U.S. mad cow case link

US: no need to test all cattle for madcow

Mad cow-Japan

U.S. grass-fed cattle hot after mad cow case

For cattle industry, a swift response years in the making

9 cows linked to mad cow inquiry have been found

Secretary puts experience to work in mad cow case

Difficult to move ill cows humanely

Mad cow disease: lessons unlearned (4 letters)

Iowa schools give irradiated meat cold reception

Food additives permitted for direct addition to food for human consumption; acesulfame potassium

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U.S. hints at delay in reopening border to some Canadian beef products
Jan. 1, 2004
Globe and Mail
A4
Dawn Walton and Jill Mahoney
CALGARY, EDMONTON -- The United States, according to this story, gave further indications yesterday that it will delay reopening the border to young Canadian cattle and some beef products, a move that would deal another blow to this country's beleaguered cattle industry.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a proposed rule two months ago that would lift the ban on some Canadian imports, but gave interested parties until Monday to comment.
However, Ron DeHaven, chief veterinarian with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was cited as saying the comment period would be open "at least" until Monday, a statement made in response to the discovery last week of mad-cow disease in a Washington-state Holstein that may have been born in Alberta, adding, "Given this situation . . . the comment period for that rule is still open and will be open at least until Jan. 5. The entire epidemiological investigation needs to be taken into account as we determine what action that we would take."
The story says that as soon as the possible Canadian link was announced, the U.S. cattle lobby effort moved into high gear to delay reopening of the border to live Canadian cattle under 30 months of age, meat from young animals and other byproducts.
The U.S. National Cattlemen's Beef Association has asked for an "indefinite extension" on the comment period until the investigation into the Washington-state BSE case is complete.
"This will allow us to gather all the information from the investigation so we can comment accordingly on behalf of our members," association chief executive officer Terry Stokes said.
Canadian officials said they still assume the comment period will end Monday.
"We just proceed on that basis and you know if there's a change to that, whether they extend the comment period or whether they make a decision to reopen it at some point thereafter, we'll just have to deal with that when it happens," Blair Coomber, director-general of international trade policy for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, said in an interview.
Still, many in the Canadian cattle industry have resigned themselves to the possibility that the recent case will throw a wrench into removing trade barriers.
"Everything's up in the air," said Dennis Laycraft, executive vice-president of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association.
It is the first time the United States has signalled it could prolong the comment period, said Ted Haney, president of the Canada Beef Export Federation.
"You can't tell how much to read into it, but you know they are at least considering an extension," he said.



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Our beef among safest: peters; the agriculture minister says; The U.S. should emulate Ontario safeguards
Jan. 1/04
The London Free Press
Page: A1
Debora van Brenk
Ontario Agriculture Minister Steve Peters was cited as saying yesterday that the United States should emulate safeguards in Ontario that have made the province's beef among the world's safest.
After meeting privately with about 50 beef industry representatives -- including producers, shippers, feeders, breeders and auction operators -- Peters said the U.S. needs to deal scientifically with its mad cow scare, as Canada has, adding, "My message to . . . the United States would be that we can't allow this process to become emotional and politicized. I think it's imperative that we deal with this in a science-based approach."
Though some Americans say the U.S. should indefinitely stop importing Canadian beef, Peters said the two countries should take a "hemispheric approach" to food safety and reopen borders soon.
"What we've been able to show to the consumers and what we can show
to the Americans is that our food supply is safe."
The story says there's so far no intention of keeping "downer" cattle (cattle
that can no longer walk) out of meat-packing plants here, even though the U.S. announced that step.
Instead, Peters said, Ontario will continue making sure a vet inspects downer cattle to certify them safe for consumption.
He noted Ontario has tested 2,300 cattle, all of which have tested negative for BSE, in the last 18 months.
Peters doesn't see any reason to extend the testing to all cattle (as is the case in Japan) or all cattle older than 30 months (as is done in Europe).
If the federal government decides to expand its testing, Ontario will co-operate, he said.




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Canada exec denies U.S. mad cow case link
Jan. 1/04
AP/ Canadian Press
TORONTO -- Barry Glotman , president of West Coast Reduction, which owns and operates Northern Alberta Processing and several other of the plants, which process animal carcasses was cited as telling the Associated Press that his company was not the source of a U.S. case of mad cow disease, saying his business adheres to strict guidelines and that it's premature to place blame, adding, "I don't think we produce contaminated feed."
The Edmonton Journal was cited as reporting Wednesday that Canadian food safety investigators had established a tentative link between the Edmonton rendering plant and the infected Holstein found on a Washington state farm.
Glotman was further cited as saying that Tom Spiller, who is heading the investigation into the feed sources of both animals for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, had recently visited the plant and asked for records showing where the company sells its meat and bone meal, adding, "They're just basically checking. We've been audited."
But Glotman said "it's a little premature right now" to blame his plant.
In a statement released late Wednesday, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency was cited as saying it is examining feed purchasing, production and distribution records from 1996-1998, but did not specifically name any plants, adding, "While it has been reported in the media that a possible link was identified between a rendering facility and the two North American ... cases, it is premature to draw such a conclusion at this time as the investigation is not yet complete."
The statement added that "it is important to note that many feed mills and farms in Western Canada draw material from the same renderers."
CFIA investigator Cornelius Kiley said the agency is getting a jump-start in case testing confirms the Washington cow came from Alberta, adding, "We're being prudent. We've got a line of investigation that was given to us by the U.S. and we're pursuing the line that they believe links this cow to having been born in Alberta. We could wait until next week until we know for sure, but we do have staff that can go out and do some preliminary investigative work, so that's what we're doing."



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US: no need to test all cattle for madcow
Jan. 1/04
Reuters
By Charles Abbott and Randy Fabi
WASHINGTON - The Bush administration was cited as saying on Wednesday there was no need to test all U.S. cattle for mad cow disease because its new safeguards should satisfy American consumers and trading partners that U.S. beef is safe to eat.
The story says that Japan, the No. 1 buyer, will send a team of food experts to the United States, probably in January, to gather information that may bolster U.S. requests for resumption of trade.
Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman and USDA's chief veterinarian, Ron DeHaven, brushed aside suggestions to test all cattle, as Japan does. DeHaven told reporters it was premature to consider such an action in the eighth day of investigating the mad cow case.
During a news conference, DeHaven was quoted as saying it was "far too premature to draw any conclusions" about the source of feed that may have infected the Holstein in Washington state and the Black Angus cow that was Canada's first case of mad cow in May.



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Mad cow-Japan
Jan. 1/04
AP
By KOZO MIZOGUCHI
Associated Press Writer
TOKYO -- The Yoshinoya fast-food chain was cited as saying it will stop serving its trademark beef-and-onions rice dish unless Japanese authorities lift a ban on U.S. beef imports.
The Royal Host restaurant chain is considering whether it can increase the amount of beef it gets from Australia. McDonald's Japan has taken out full-page newspaper ads reassuring consumers that its patties are made only with Australian beef.
The story says that news that a cow in Washington state tested positive last week for mad cow disease -- the first U.S. case of the brain-wasting bovine ailment -- has created a dilemma for restaurant chains in Japan, the world's biggest customer for U.S. beef.
The story adds that low-cost chains like Yoshinoya, there's no substitute for cheap U.S. beef.
With 980 restaurants nationwide, Yoshinoya relies on U.S. suppliers for 99 percent of the beef used in its "gyudon" beef bowl -- which at about $2.50 is a staple for office workers and budget-conscious students.
Yoshinoya president Shuji Abe was cited as saying the chain would run out of beef stocks in February and that if the ban on U.S. beef imports continued, Yoshinoya won't be able to keep serving its signature product, adding, "I never thought our business would come to this."
Japan imports about two-thirds of its beef, and around 47 percent, or more than 226,000 tons, came from the United States last year. The rest comes mostly from Australia and New Zealand, neither of which has had a reported case of mad cow disease.



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U.S. grass-fed cattle hot after mad cow case
Dec 31/03
Reuters
By Jim Christie
SAN FRANCISCO - Some consumers, fearing that the first U.S. case of mad cow disease is not a fluke, are, according to this story, buying more beef from grass-fed cattle -- even at much higher prices than conventional beef.
From the Midwestern heartland of the $27 billion U.S. beef industry to boutique ranches tucked away in California's wine country, ranchers report that the newfound public concern over food safety makes it a good time to be raising cattle the old-fashioned -- or, some would say, Argentine -- way.
John Wood, president of Grassland Beef in Monticello, Missouri, an online storefront selling cattle raised exclusively on grass without the use of growth hormones, was quoted as saying, "This thing made the phone start to ring. What it has done is make loyal customers out of our customer base."
The story goes on to say that even before the first U.S. case of mad cow disease was announced last week, grass-fed beef producers were positioning their beef as an organic alterative to corn-fed beef, pointing to its lower levels of saturated fat and high levels of healthy fatty acids and antioxidants.
Some restaurants have taken up the banner, providing grass-fed cattle ranchers an important market in the United States. In Argentina, ranchers raise cattle on grasslands to produce some of the world's most highly prized beef.
Larry Bain, director of operations at San Francisco's Acme Chophouse and Jardiniere restaurants, which together serve some 2,800 steaks from grass-fed beef during busy weeks,,, was quoted as saying, "It's healthier for the consumer."
The grass-fed beef comes at a hefty cost -- about 25 percent to 30 percent more than commodity cuts at supermarkets -- and some restaurants expect that premium to widen.



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For cattle industry, a swift response years in the making
January 1, 2004
N.Y. Times
Glen Justice
WASHINGTON When word flashed to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association last week that the first case of mad cow disease in the United States had been found on the West Coast, it was a red alert for an industry that had, according to this story, spent years playing down the threat.
The association and its allies have spent millions in recent years to deploy lobbyists defending its interests on meat regulations, inheritance taxes and other issues. So when a crisis surfaced that struck directly at beef sales, it had a plan.
The story says that Washington lobbyists began tracking down members of Congress, who were home for the holidays, and discussing the response with officials at the Agriculture Department. Teams of experts in all 50 states were made available to the news media to get out the group's message. And the association posted a Web page, created years ago but held in reserve, to educate the public.
Chandler Keys, the association's vice president for government affairs, was quoted as saying, "We were trying to get to the American consumer, where all our money comes from."
The initial response was the first line of defense for an industry facing the largest test of its clout in years. It then embraced regulations imposed by the Agriculture Department on Tuesday, including an about-face on a provision the industry had long opposed and had defeated in the House earlier this year.
Howard Lyman, a former rancher and lobbyist for the National Farm Union who is now an advocate for tighter regulations and a critic of the industry, was quoted as saying,"Their barn is burning down. They are trying to put the best face on it."
Mr. Keys was further cited as saying the association made a steadfast effort at transparent communication with consumers about the diseased cow and the safety of the meat supply, adding, "When people inside the Beltway worry about the perception of the American public and spin things and manipulate the message, that's the worst thing you can do."
Marion Nestle, who will step down as chairman of the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health at New York University in 2004 after 15 years, was quoted as saying, "They are on the run now. Countries all over the world are saying they will not buy their meat. That's serious."



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9 cows linked to mad cow inquiry have been found
January 1, 2004
N.Y. Times
Denise Grady
The Agriculture Department was cited as saying on Wednesday that it had found some of the 81 cows thought to have been shipped to the United States from Canada with a cow that turned out to have the first case of mad cow disease seen in the United States.
Nine of the cows are still on the farm in Mabton, Wash., where the infected cow had lived.
"And we have good leads on all of the remaining animals," said Dr. Ron DeHaven, chief veterinary officer for the Agriculture Department. So far, Dr. DeHaven said, the leads have all been to farms in Washington, but the tracking is not finished.



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Secretary puts experience to work in mad cow case
January 1, 2004
Washington Post
A23
By Christopher Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
When California strawberries were suspected -- wrongly -- of making people sick in 1997, Ann M. Veneman, then the state's agriculture secretary, stood up at a news conference and said there was nothing to worry about. To prove the fruit was safe, she popped a few in her mouth.
The announcement on Dec. 23 of the first case of mad cow disease in the United States again brought Veneman before the cameras, this time as head of the Department of Agriculture, facing the worst crisis of her three-year tenure. The stage was much bigger; the stakes, higher. And her assurances that she still planned to serve beef for Christmas dinner were not enough to make the problem go away.
Veneman was quoted as saying yesterday in an interview at her office, which overlooks the National Mall and, these days, three television satellite trucks, that, "By far, it's the biggest food safety [and] animal disease crisis I've dealt with. Maybe this is my biggest experience, but over the years we've dealt with food safety crises. . . . And one of the things I've learned is that it's very important to be out there quickly, to tell the whole story as soon as possible."
Veneman, who during her tenure has coped with Britain's foot-and-mouth disease outbreak, several domestic meat recalls and fears of a terrorist assault on the food supply, was cited as saying that Canada's experience with a positive mad cow test in May helped guide the administration's response, adding, "It was aggressive action. You make changes when you are a BSE-positive country, even if it's only one cow. . . . It helps to assure consumer confidence at a time when consumers are seeing a lot of pictures on the television and, frankly, saying, 'Wow, I didn't really know this.' "
The story says that in general, supporters and critics alike have praised Veneman's handling of the crisis. They call her openness necessary and her sure-handedness a reflection of a career that has included a stint as the department's No. 2 official and ample experience in law and politics.
J. Patrick Boyle, president of the American Meat Institute, an industry group, was quoted as saying, "She did an exemplary job handling what is a fairly complex animal health issue that has a lot of emotion surrounding it. She is exceptionally well-qualified for this role."
Critics also say, however, that Veneman's actions illustrate that the White House has been slow to realize that it takes more than lip service to ensure that the nation's food supply is safe from mad cow disease and more common hazards.
Carol Tucker Foreman, an assistant secretary of agriculture in the Carter administration who is director of the Food Policy Institute of the Consumer Federation of America, was quoted as saying, "Virtually everything they did [this week] was something that we had urged them to do for many years. It's like they sat around waiting until somebody set off the dynamite under them before they moved on it."
Foreman and other critics said Veneman was slow to craft new rules to control listeria, an illness-causing bacterium that can be found in ready-to-eat foods. And they say she has not followed through on recent pledges to seek authority from Congress to impose civil penalties and cease-and-desist orders to ensure meat is safe.
Nancy Donley, president of the advocacy group Safe Tables Our Priority, was quoted as saying, "If I were to give her a letter grade, it would be like a C-minus."
Veneman defended her record, saying she takes all interests into account and noting that tests have shown significant declines in pathogens such as listeria and salmonella in meats.



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Difficult to move ill cows humanely
Jan. 1, 2004
Toronto Star
Dianne M. Radmore, of Denman Island, B.C. writes regarding Tougher rules set to battle mad cow, Dec. 31, to say that as animal agribusiness spin doctors and politicians scramble to do damage control around the latest mad cow crisis, a related scandal remains virtually ignored by mainstream media. The allegedly Canadian-born dairy cow that ended up in Washington State was a "downer" an industry term used to describe animals too sick or weak to even stand. Often unable to access food and water troughs, downers may endure hours or even days without these most basic requirements.
It is also well documented that moving such animals humanely is practically impossible. Routine methods include dragging with chains and pushing with tractors or forklifts.
Animal activists have been lobbying for years for downed animal protection legislation and yet the horror stories persist. Awareness of this cruelty should prompt even more of us to question those food choices inconsistent with our greater desire for a more peaceful and humane world in 2004.



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Mad cow disease: lessons unlearned (4 letters)
January 1, 2004
N.Y. Times
Martha Hubbart of Miami, writes regarding, "U.S. Issues Safety Rules to Protect Food Against Mad Cow Disease" (front page, Dec. 31) to say:
Mary had a little lamb,
And when she saw it sicken,
She shipped it off to Packingtown,
And now it's labeled chicken.
This bit of verse was written in response to "The Jungle," the 1906 novel by Upton Sinclair that exposed the appalling practices in the meat-packing industry.
Public reaction resulted in the pure-food legislation that (or so I was taught) corrected the abuses. And yet Hubbart read that the Department of Agriculture is just now taking new steps to ban the use of sick cows in the nation's food supply.
How did we get here? What has been going on in that 98-year interval?

David W. Blair of Princeton, N.J., writes regarding, "Probability, Luck and One Mad Cow" (Week in Review, Dec. 28) to say that the lucky discovery that a mad cow has been processed and put into our food stream has led to the widespread publicity about the deplorable state of our meat inspection and control system. Obviously ailing and disabled animals have been slaughtered and sold as food for humans.
In the Reagan administration, meat inspection was curtailed under the ideological imperative of getting the government out of the way to let industry do what it does best. There was little outcry from the public. Ideology and lobbying continued to prevent improvement and modernization of the inspection system, and now industry is seen to be doing what it does best.

Nick Ingoglia of North Caldwell, N.J., a neuroscientist, writes regarding "A Pound of Prevention" (editorial, Dec. 31) to say the infectious agents in mad cow disease, prion proteins, are naturally occurring. They become lethal only when their structure is altered and they somehow induce the alteration of other prion proteins, leading to the gradual deterioration of brain tissue as seen in Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans. The symptoms of Creutzfeldt-Jakob, however, are not apparent until years after the disease has infected the host. This is likely to be true in cows as well as humans, so there are probably thousands of "mad cows" not yet manifesting the symptoms of the disease.
The only way we can feel completely safe from this disease is for scientists to find a test to detect the abnormal prion protein in asymptomatic cows and to remove cattle found to harbor the abnormal form of prion from the food chain.

Stela Maris Dallar of New York, writes regarding, "U.S. Issues Safety Rules to Protect Food Against Mad Cow Disease" (front page, Dec. 31), to ask, why on earth was a "downer" cow a sure sign that the animal was sick slaughtered and sold to consumers? What kind of government leadership do we have that did not stand up to the meat industry lobby and did not have a long-term view of the consequences?
At last, some measures are being taken to protect the food supply. Are they, however, enough to regain my confidence as someone who grew up eating meat and who loves a good steak?
Dallar says she has a work colleague who lost her spouse to mad cow disease, and her ordeal was devastating, both emotionally and financially.
Would she order a steak tonight? She's not sure.



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Iowa schools give irradiated meat cold reception
Dec. 29/03
Knight-Ridder Tribune
Byline: By Tom Walsh, The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
The 560 public and private Iowa school systems that participate in the National School Lunch Program can, according to this story, begin serving irradiated ground beef on Jan. 1, but not one Iowa school system is planning to do so, either then or anytime soon.
The story says that only two school districts in the nation... one in Indiana, the
other in Maine... have approved the use of irradiated ground beef, according
to the 55,000-member American School Food Service Association.
Diane Duncan-Goldsmith, the food service director for the Iowa City Community School District, was quoted as saying, "It's too controversial. It's an emerging technology with as many pros as cons. My overwhelming concern is the appropriateness of mass-testing this technology on children. I don't think
it's the appropriate arena."
The story says that although the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service in 1999 approved irradiation of raw meat and poultry used in consumer products, the agency banned distribution of irradiated meats through the National School Lunch Program. That ban was lifted by the 2002 Farm Bill, which directed USDA not to prohibit the use of approved food safety technologies in commodities purchased by the program.
The Farm Bill also required USDA to consider "the acceptability of
recipients of products purchased" by the agency for commodity distribution.
That requirement jump-started a USDA consumer education effort to provide
information about irradiation to local school districts, including parents,
students, teachers, food service staffers and school administrators.
Suzy Ketelsen, manager of food and nutrition for the Cedar Rapids
Community School District, was quoted as saying, "As a district, we'll need to follow the lead of the state and the USDA. Protecting the public from food-borne illness is a real priority, and, down the road, I do see the use of irradiated products beyond flour and spices."
Dean Flaws, a consultant who works with the state's Bureau of Food & Nutrition, was quoted as saying, "At least in talking with people, nobody seems to be for it. We're planning to survey the approximately 360 public and 200 parochial school systems in Iowa that have school lunch programs to see if any would be interested in ordering it. It may be, if there's any interest, that we can get it just for those schools."



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Food additives permitted for direct addition to food for human consumption; acesulfame potassium
December 31, 2003
Federal Register: Volume 68, Number 250
[Page 75411-75413]
[DOCID:fr31de03-15]
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
[Docket No. 2002F-0220]
AGENCY: Food and Drug Administration, HHS.
ACTION: Final rule.
SUMMARY: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is amending the food
additive regulations to provide for the safe use of acesulfame
potassium (ACK) as a general-purpose sweetener and flavor enhancer in
food, not including meat and poultry. This action
[[Page 75412]]
is in response to a food additive petition filed by Nutrinova, Inc. It
will simplify the existing regulations by replacing all of the
currently listed uses of ACK with a single-use category for food.
DATES: This rule is effective December 31, 2003. Submit written or
electronic objections and requests for a hearing by January 30, 2004.
ADDRESSES: Submit written objections and requests for a hearing to the
Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration,
5630 Fishers Lane, rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. Submit electronic
objections at http://www.fda.gov/dockets/ecomments.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Blondell Anderson, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (HFS-265), Food and Drug Administration, 5100 Paint Branch Pkwy., College Park, MD 20740-3835, 202-418-3106.

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