- CHICAGO (Reuters) - The National
Cattlemen's Beef Association has called a meeting next week of feed industry
and government officials to underscore the need for ``zero tolerance''
of any mad cow disease threat to the United States.
- Charles Schroeder, NCBA's chief executive officer, said
in an interview that NCBA had invited officials of the feed industry, US
Agriculture Department, Food and Drug Administration and the meatpacking
and rendering industries to the meeting in Washington next Monday, January
- ``If there are folks that don't understand the seriousness
of the situation, they need to be brought to understand that, both by communication
from the industry and if necessary by penalties from the regulatory authorities
involved,'' he said.
- ``There is simply no excuse for non-compliance. As an
industry we are unwavering on that,'' Schroeder said.
- Schroeder said the discussion followed the recent wave
of reports of growing panic in Europe over beef consumption and more cases
of mad cow disease, the fatal brain-wasting disease formally known as bovine
- The European Union from January 1 banned the use of any
type of meat and bone meal (MBM) in animal feeds for at least 6 months
as a precaution against the spread of BSE.
- MBM made from cattle has been banned in US cattle feeding
operations since 1997 and the US last month banned all types of MBM imports
from countries where BSE has been detected. No case of BSE has ever been
detected in the US.
- FDA officials said earlier this month that a survey of
US feed mills and renderers--which reprocess carcass materials into industrial
oils and fats--showed some laxity in labeling and record keeping.
- ``We have made it clear to the feed industry and the
renderers from the start of this situation that we have no tolerance for
any slippage in compliance of those regulations,'' Schroeder said.
- ``As an industry, from the producer side, we have made
it clear we have zero tolerance on any violation of those barriers. Evidence
thus far is that we have been successful.''
- Schroeder said US regulators and the cattle industry
had actively cooperated for the last decade to keep the 100 million head
beef cattle and dairy herd--the single largest US segment of agriculture--free
from the BSE threat.
- But if a BSE case should occur in the United States,
Schroeder said the industry is ready to deal with it.
- ``We are prepared, if a discovery is ever made, to number
one verify that discovery, isolate it, and eliminate it as rapidly as possible
from the beef system,'' he said.
- ``We have no interest as an industry in trying to mislead
the public or hide it from them,'' Schroeder said. ``We are prepared to
communicate that discovery. Communicate, to the best of our knowledge,
any related risk, as well as what the industry is doing to isolate it,
contain it and eliminate it.''
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