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Beef Is Safe: New, Non-Definitive BSE Test Result Should Not Raise Concern

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

A new “non-definitive” BSE test result on a brain sample from a 12-year-old cow should not raise concerns among consumers or trading partners because beef is safe from BSE. Even if the test ultimately confirms positive, the safety of the U.S. beef supply is unchanged, the American Meat Institute (AMI) said today.

"The beef we eat, like steaks, roasts and ground beef, is safe. These products have never been associated with a BSE-related human illness,” said AMI Foundation President James H. Hodges “Consumption of certain cattle parts that could harbor the BSE agent if the animal is infected -- primarily the brain and spinal cord -- has been identified as a possible cause of human illness.”

“People in Europe who became ill likely consumed brains or other infected tissues early in the BSE epidemic because the human health risk was not recognized,” Hodges continued. “By contrast, these parts are removed in the U.S. and do not enter the food supply.”

“It should be even more reassuring to know that the 12-year-old cow at issue did not enter the human food or animal feed supply,” Hodges pointed out.

He stressed that the age of the animal indicates that if it is indeed positive for BSE, it was likely exposed to the BSE agent through feed before new feed restrictions went into effect in 1997. But he emphasized that thanks to these proactive feed restrictions, “BSE is on its way out in North America.”

“Beef is as safe today as it was yesterday,” Hodges said.

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

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