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AABP position statement regarding bovine spongiform encephalopathy(BSE)

 

The American Association of Bovine Practitioners is committed to protecting animal health and promoting public food safety by facilitating production of meat, milk and other dairy foods which are safe, secure, and abundant. Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) exposure has been demonstrated in North America with the identification of a case in Canada in May of 2003 and a case in the United States in December of 2003.? This disease affects cattle and has been associated with a slight risk to human health. Its diagnosis in the United States cattle herd may reduce consumer confidence in the safety of beef and milk. To mitigate the impact of BSE, AABP supports that further actions be taken in North America to protect cattle from exposure to the agent of BSE and to demonstrate that proactive incremental BSE prevention strategies continue to be implemented as new epidemiologic information becomes available.?

 

As an organization, AABP recommends that further actions should:

 

1) Provide for the early detection and removal of the disease through continued diagnostic surveillance targeted toward cattle exhibiting signs consistent with BSE.

 

2) Promote a national cattle identification system which allows retrospective investigation and rapid removal if exposed to contaminated feed material.

 

3) Protect cattle and other animals from exposure to the BSE agent by removing ruminant brain and spinal cord from animal feed, by developing methods to readily identify feed sources as safe and legal to feed to cattle, and by developing strategies for the safe removal and destruction or use of potential risk materials.

 

4) Support the USDA’s additional BSE prevention measures to demonstrate that the food supply is safe from contamination with the BSE agent, e.g., removing specified risk materials from human food, banning mechanical recovery of meat from the carcass of cattle greater than 30 months of age, banning the use of compressed air stunning tools, and removing downer cattle from the human food supply.

 

5) Promote the removal of bovine whole blood products from the cattle feed supply, as its presence confounds feedstuff compliance testing.

 

6) Support the continued use of purified protein products in calf colostrum supplements and milk replacers, including bovine plasma, serum and fractions thereof, as they have a demonstrated positive effect on calf health and disease control and no evidence of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) infectivity.

 

7) Promote the use of more resources for research and for educating the public on:

?         The actual risk of cattle developing BSE.

?         The further risk of the development of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease in the human population.

?         Provide science and risk-based information for changes in regulations surrounding BSE and protection of the food supply.

 

8) Use science-based information to normalize agricultural commodity commerce between the United States and Canada as quickly as possible.

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