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AMI Says USDA's Return to Normal Level Is Appropriate Given Extremely Low Level of BSE In U.S.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The following statement should be attributed to AMI President and CEO J. Patrick Boyle:

“U.S. beef is among the safest in the world and USDA's decision to return to a normal level of BSE surveillance reflects that fact. This decision is an appropriate one based upon the extremely low level of BSE detected in U.S. herds and represents excellent news about American cattle health and U.S. beef safety.

After the first U.S. case of BSE in December 2003, USDA committed to an enhanced surveillance program in order to detect any additional cases with a high degree of confidence. The department at that time expected to test up to 300,000 animals. Amazingly, USDA tested nearly 800,000 high risk animals - those most likely to test positive - but only two additional cases were confirmed.

These findings demonstrate how well the U.S. BSE prevention system has worked. No other nation took the actions we did ten years before we ever detected our first case. Harvard University's 1998 prediction that if we ever diagnosed BSE it would be quickly contained and eradicated appears to have been correct.

The new surveillance program will sample approximately 40,000 animals each year. While this may be less than what we have seen over the past two years, it exceeds by ten times the internationally recognized, science-based guidelines set forth by the World Animal Health organization.

There is no question that the U.S. continues to lead the way in BSE prevention. We are confident that our trading partners will agree that we have gone above and beyond in providing assurances about our beef production system.”

For more information contact:
David Ray
Vice President, Public Affairs
Janet Riley
Sr. Vice President, Public Affairs

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