Minutes after USDA Secretary Ann Veneman announced new measures in response to the nation's single case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) yesterday, AMI's senior staff organized a national teleconference to commend USDA for its vigilance and express AMI's belief that these regulations will surely maintain consumer confidence in the safety of the U.S. beef supply.
"It is understandable, and in
fact prudent, for USDA to review our nation's
regulatory firewalls that protect against BSE,"
AMI President J. Patrick Boyle told a national
audience of reporters and editors yesterday.
"Although these extraordinary new measures are
very aggressive and indeed go well beyond
international standards, we recognize that they
were developed in an effort to protect our
cattle herd and to reinforce consumer
confidence in beef safety."
urged U.S. trading partners to take notice of
the swift federal response.
"In the wake
of these announcements, our trading partners
must consider an immediate reestablishment of
beef trade with the United States," he
In her statement, Veneman
reiterated that the risk of BSE spreading
within the United States is low, again citing
Harvard University's BSE Risk Assessment
studies, and pledged that "sound science will
be our guide" as the agency moves forward with
its new rules.
Specifically, USDA made
the following revisions:
· A ban on
non-ambulatory livestock for human consumption.
Despite this change, USDA said it would
increase BSE surveillance of at-risk animals.
Existing surveillance exceeds international
standards by more than 40 times.
ban on specified risk materials. SRMs,
including skull, brain, trigeminal ganglia,
eyes, spinal cord, small intestine and the
dorsal root ganglia from cattle over 30 months
of age and the small intestine of cattle of all
ages will be prohibited from the food supply.
Tonsils from all cattle are already considered
inedible and do not enter the food
· Immediate implementation of a
national animal ID system to track the nation's
livestock from point of origin through food
production, an initiative AMI has strongly
· New regulations on meat
advanced meat recovery. Spinal cord, which is
already prohibited, and dorsal root ganglia,
plus meat derived from the skull will be
prohibited in product derived by advanced meat
· Mandatory carcass
test-and-hold. USDA will require that beef
carcasses and beef products from animals
undergoing BSE testing must be withheld from
the food supply pending test results. This is
already a routine practice at many of the
nation’s beef plants, AMI noted.
Ban on air injection stunning. Air-injected
stunners are officially banned, although such
systems are no longer manufactured and are not
in use in the industry.
· Ban on
mechanically separated meat, a product that is
no longer produced in the industry, having been
supplanted more than a decade ago by product
from advanced meat recovery
Because downer animals were an
integral checkpoint in USDA's ongoing BSE
surveillance, questions arose regarding the
impact the ban on use of such cattle as food
animals would have on BSE testing. Veneman
explained that USDA would continue to identify
high-risk and determine "other means" of
targeting these animals, in addition to
identifying them at packing
Veneman also announced the
appointment of a scientific panel to review
USDA's response to the BSE case, its ongoing
investigation surrounding the index cow and the
agency's BSE surveillance system. This panel
will be similar to that established by Canada
and would include those international experts
who advised the Canadian government earlier
For more information on the
new regulations, visit www.usda.gov.
additional scientific background on BSE, be
sure to visit www.MeatAMI.com and click on the
"For more information about BSE" link on the
AMI Expresses Support for USDA's Package of New BSE RegulationsWednesday, December 31, 2003