- The cow that tested positive for mad cow disease came
from Southeast Texas, the owner of a pet-food company that took delivery
of the animal said Thursday.
- "The USDA told me it's from somewhere in the southeast
part of the state," said Benjy Bauer, owner of Waco-based Champion
Pet Foods. "That's all they would say, and believe me, I've asked
them several times. I want to know, too."
- Bauer said that a livestock hauler, whom he declined
to identify, brought in the cow, which was dead when it arrived at Champion.
The company normally buys "downers," cows that cannot stand up
and are therefore barred from human consumption, and animals a few hours
- The 5-employee company produces pet food for racing greyhounds
from a small tan-and-brown building in an industrial section on the north
side of town. Across Industrial Boulevard, dwarfing Champion, sit 2 large
- Clint Moran, who works as a Waco livestock hauler, said
many of the cows Champion buys are from the area. "For maybe $75,
it isn't worth your while to haul a downed cow too far," said Moran,
who added he has sold the company downed cows.
- Long-distance haulers who deliver healthy cows in the
region can be left at the end of the line with a downer that fell ill during
the trip, he said. "They'd know to drop it off at Champion and recover
a few bucks," he said. The company buys cows "from all over,"
administrative assistant Melissa Fulton said. She said it has a contract
with the USDA to test all downed and dead cows more than 30 months old
for bovine spongiform encephalopathy.
- In a release issued Wednesday, the company said it sent
a sample of the brain from the infected cow to a laboratory at Texas A&M
University, where a test for BSE was inconclusive.
- No part of the animal made it into the company's products,
- The Texas Animal Health Commission, the state agency
responsible for monitoring diseased livestock, referred all requests for
information about the cow to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A "hold
order" was issued by the commission to the owner of the cow, to prevent
any other cattle from moving from the immediate premises, according to
a woman in the agency's public information office, who would only give
her first name.
- The USDA would not release the location of the ranch
the animal came from. Government officials stressed that the cow, likely
infected from feed containing cow parts that were banned years after the
cow was born, never made it into animal or food supply. Now they're testing
the herd and tracing back the feed supply the cow ate.
- Chronicle reporter Terri Langford contributed to this
- (Logically, the ranch is within some 45 minutes pick-up
drive of Champion, TX. Presumably we will see the implementation of a local
surveillance programme for herds that received feed from the same feed
company 9 to 15 years ago. - Mod.MHJ)
- US Is Years Away From Mad Cow Track-Back System
- (Reuters) --The government is years away from fielding
a system to track down herdmates of cattle diagnosed with mad cow disease,
making the United States "a food safety laggard" in the eyes
of a consumer group.
- The Bush administration embraced the trace-back system
as a vital part of mad cow control but now expects a January 2009 operational
date despite pledging to speed up action. Industry sources say questions
about privacy and equipment have slowed work.
- The government last Friday confirmed the 2nd case of
U.S. mad cow disease, and the U.S. Agriculture Department is investigating
the herd of the infected beef cow, which some published reports have said
was from Texas. [It should be noted that this cow went straight from the
farm of origin to the pet food company. - Mod.MHJ]
- Within days of reporting the 1st U.S. case of mad cow
in late 2003, the Bush administration said it would speed up creation of
the trace-back system as part of tougher safeguards against the brain-destroying
disease. It is a daunting task, involving a million livestock producers
and tens of millions of animals, and has moved slower than expected partly
due to objections by producers. The goal of the national animal identification
system is to find the home farm and herdmates of ailing cattle, hogs, and
poultry within 48 hours of a disease outbreak.
- Meanwhile, the largest U.S. cattle group says it will
launch a nationwide registry in October 2005, a point when the government
would still be mulling the design of its system. The chairman of the House
Agriculture Committee suggested the government ought to let the private
sector take the lead. "The system could be under way in a matter of
months, rather than years (and) dictates it is a better course to follow,"
said Chairman Bob Goodlatte, Virginia Republican.
- Some industry observers say the latest U.S. mad cow case
underscores the urgency of the task. "With this particular cow, we
are seeing the strong impact of the gaps in our firewall, which includes
the lack of a national ID system," said Caroline Smith DeWaal, food
safety director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. With
no trace-back system until 2009, says CSPI, "the United States is
lagging even farther behind many of our trading partners on food safety
- Canada adopted mandatory cattle ID early this decade.
CSPI counts Australia, Japan, and Europe with mandatory ID programs. [Though
not without problems, these programmes work. - Mod.MHJ]
- Confidentiality concerns
- Besides the cost of running a livestock identification
program, estimated around $100 million a year, and the additional work
of reporting every time animals leave the farm or change ownership, some
producers worry they will lose control of information about their animals
- Questions about confidentiality are among the reasons
that progress is lagging on a government-run trace-back system, said 2
livestock industry sources. Funding has not been large enough, they said,
and there are ever-changing ideas over features of the system and the equipment
- By contrast, said Jay Truitt of the National Cattlemen's
Beef Association, the livestock industry can assemble a less expensive
and more flexible system faster than the government. NCBA is spearheading
a private-sector database.
- "It's not as complex as everybody wants to make
it," said Truitt. "The private sector has much more incentive
to meet the marketplace." A privately run database could also be used
by producers as a place to store information that could help them win a
premium price when they send livestock to market. The data could include
feed records, breed lineage, and health care. That "value-added"
information could defray the cost of the system.
- But just as some producers doubted the government could
keep their records confidential, there was skepticism about trusting a
private database with the information. "We need to take the profit
incentive out of animal ID," said president Dave Frederickson of the
300 000-member National Farmers Union. Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson said
the government should stay in charge even if it out-sourced some of the
- (There have been cattle identification programmes in
place for decades, starting with ranch/farm branding; government ear tags
in disease control programmes; some 30 years ago Australia had a cheap
and effective ranch/station identification system based on numbered plastic
tail-tags for all animals leaving the station/farm; and dairies have had
microchips for some time tied to milk production and individual feeding.
- Identifying the cow, pig, or sheep is really the easy
part. Catching errors, updating records promptly, data transmission and
security, and sheer volume are what bring you to your knees. If the individual
owner does not get a benefit or perceive the potential for it in such a
programme, "confidentiality" will be trotted around the ring
snorting and kicking to distract planners and politicians.
- Where the industry has supported such a programme or
been persuaded by the threat of withholding of subsidies, their implementation
has been rapid and fairly effective. When you get down to details, nightmares
are soon uncovered, such as some records being 3 months or longer out of
date. However, systems eventually settle down and function well. - Mod.MHJ)
- Patricia A. Doyle, PhD
- Please visit my "Emerging
Diseases" messag e board.
- Zhan le Devlesa tai sastimasa
- Go with God and in Good Health