Disease Proof

Beef's Ups and Downs

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has moved to ban certain cattle parts from being used in animal feed. Reuters reports:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which oversees animal feed, said excluding high-risk materials from cattle 30 months of age or older from all animal feed will prevent any accidental cross-contamination between ruminant feed (intended for animals such as cattle) and non-ruminant feed or feed ingredients.
The new rule takes effect in April, 2009.

Contamination could occur during manufacture, transport or through the accidental misfeeding of non-ruminant feed to ruminant animals.
Canada and the United States banned the inclusion of protein from cows and other ruminant animals such as goats and sheep in cattle feed in 1997, following a mad cow outbreak in Britain.
Could this help restore consumer confidence? Because as it stands right now Americans are losing faith in the FDA. From Business Wire:
Majorities of U.S. adults give negative ratings for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on a number of measures, such as ensuring new drugs come to market quickly (60% negative) and managing recalls or withdrawals when safety concerns arise (53%). The perception that the FDA does a good job ensuring the safety and efficacy of new prescription drugs (35% positive) has declined from 45 percent in 2007 and 56 percent in 2004, even though the general population considers this to be the most important task for the FDA to focus on (61%).

Further, only 26 percent think the FDA does a good job ensuring the safety of prescription drugs that are manufactured outside the U.S. This is no surprise, particularly coming on the heels of the recent Heparin contamination incident, which stemmed from materials made in China.
Granted, the report focuses on prescription drugs, but, you’ve got to admit. The FDA could do a better job keeping tabs on things. Two examples:
The FDA should nip problems like these in the bud before they even get close to hitting the news, but, the bad press doesn’t scare everyone. Japan will continue to import U.S. beef despite a recent ban. Reuters reports:

Japan does not plan to halt imports of U.S. beef after the discovery of a U.S. shipment that included parts banned due to the risk of mad cow disease, Japan's government spokesman told a news conference on Thursday.

Tokyo has suspended imports from the meatpacker that supplied the beef, a National Beef Packing Co plant in California, after the discovery. "It seems it was shipped to Japan by mistake," Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura said.

"I don't think there is a need to suspend imports," he said.

But Machimura added that Japan would increase testing, aiming to check 10 percent of incoming U.S. beef cargoes, up from the current 1 percent.
You can’t discount the bravery of the Japanese, I wouldn’t eat any beef, mad cow disease-risk or not. Why is red meat bad? Check out: War Against Cancer, Serve Beef?
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