February 15, 2004
Feb. 2004 -- Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman announced on Dec. 23, 2002, that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) had diagnosed a presumptive positive case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in an adult Holstein cow in Washington state.
Test results from Weybridge, England, later confirmed those findings.
USDA?s primary line of inquiry suggests that the affected animal likely entered the United States as part of a group of 82 dairy cattle imported through Eastport, Idaho, from Alberta, Canada, in 2001. USDA is continuing its work with Canadian officials to verify trace-back of the index animal.
Two farms in Washington were under quarantine at press time.
The cow was culled and presented for slaughter on Dec. 9, 2003, due to paralysis associated with calving difficulty. USDA determined that the animal was 6-1/2 years old at the time of slaughter, however, Canadian information on her age may be conflicting.
On Dec. 30, 2003, Secretary Veneman announced additional safeguards for providing additional protection for the human food supply against BSE in the United States. The following policy changes will become effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register:
- USDA will ban all downer cattle from the human food chain.
- Product from cattle tested for BSE will be held until the test results confirm the animal is negative for BSE.
- USDA will declare the following parts as specified risk materials (SRM), which will not be allowed to enter the food supply: skull, brain, trigeminal ganglia, eyes, vertebral column, spinal cord and dorsal root ganglia of cattle more than 30 months of age. The small intestine and tonsils also are prohibited.
- Additional process controls will be implemented for facilities that use a process called advanced meat recovery (AMR) systems.
- Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) will issue a regulation to ban the practice of air-injection stunning.
- USDA will prohibit the use of mechanically separated meat in human food.
Veneman also communicated that USDA will begin immediate implementation of a verifiable system of national animal identification to achieve uniformity, consistency and efficiency across the nation. Lastly, she is appointing an international panel of scientific experts to provide an objective review of response actions and to identify areas for potential additional enhancements.
For additional information on the details of the investigation, log on to the USDA Web site at www.usda.gov