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"FDA safeguards are sufficient" Says AMI Guest Editorial

Thursday, October 6, 2005

AMI Foundation President James Hodges said new FDA regulations to strengthen the U.S. BSE fire wall are sufficient and called them "more good news" for consumers in guest commentary featured in today’s Atlanta Journal Constitution. The column runs counter the newspaper’s editorial which was critical of the decision. Hodges emphasized that the regulations are a new addition to a long standing, intense and science based BSE surveillance program that has helped keep U.S beef extremely safe from BSE contamination.

“Since bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease) was first identified in the United Kingdom, the United States has responded to developments both outside and inside the United States with policies that carefully consider the risks presented and the additional protections that can be achieved for both animal and human health,” wrote Hodges. “Together with restrictions already in place that prohibit the feeding of ruminant protein to ruminants, this latest proposal would ensure that the United States maintains its position as a low-risk nation for BSE and a leader embracing scientifically sound policy.”

Several months ago, it was announced that FDA was considering a requirement that all specified risk materials be removed from cattle regardless of age, but decided that such measures were not scientifically justifiable. “We are encouraged that the FDA has evaluated carefully the science and the risk analyses, which show that such an extreme ban would offer virtually no additional margin of safety. It would create a huge environmental challenge involving the disposal of 1.4 billion pounds of materials annually,” Hodges explained.

Since the U.S. implemented its stringent BSE screening process over 16 months ago, only one cow has tested positive for BSE out a heard of nearly 100 million. That cow was significantly older than 30 months and was not used in the food supply. “Given the very low BSE risk that has been empirically demonstrated by the enhanced surveillance and testing program, AMI is confident that banning from feed the brains and spinal cords from cattle 30 months or older and from animals of any age that do not pass federal inspection is the appropriate, science-based policy for the United States, Canada, Mexico and other low-risk countries,” continued Hodges.

To see the op-ed in its entirety, click here: http://www.meatinstitute.org/hodgesajc.pdf

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