FDA Issues Warning
About Mad Cow In Cosmetics!

From Patricia Doyle, PhD
Hello, Jeff - In this "routine" BSE update, and amazing statement from the FDA:
FDA issues a warning about BSE and cosmetics.
We also see that Japan may be caving into the pressure put on them by the USDA and US livestock industry: Japan says cattle under 30 months may not be at BSE risk.
We knew all along that ANY product containing beef protein could pose a mad cow risk, now the FDA is a step closer to admitting it.
As far as BSE risk for cows under 30 months: THERE IS ALWAYS A RISK. Cattle under 30 months could also be incubating the disease without having symptoms. Most symptoms are evident after enough of the brain has become spongified. Japan's new stance now makes it possible for Japan to buy young cattle from the US and satisfy the Japanese consumer that the meat is safe.
Patricia Doyle
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
FDA Recommends Firms Not Use High-Risk
Cattle Protein In Cosmetics
FDA Week
16 Jul 2004
The FDA is urging cosmetic firms to not use certain cattle-derived substances in their products, because consumers run a slight risk in acquiring the human version of mad cow disease if they apply cosmetics tainted with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) to open cuts. The recommendation is included in the FDA's risk assessment dealing with the potential for BSE in cosmetics.
The FDA notes that the primary path of human exposure to BSE is through ingesting beef, and other food, from cattle, but points out that small doses of the infectious prions that cause mad cow disease can be found in cosmetics.
But, "large uncertainties" exist about the number of cosmetic products on the market that may pose a risk to human health, the agency says, adding, that any estimate of the risk, or rate at which BSE may be expected to occur, would be imprecise.
Moreover, the agency points out that considerable doubt exists about the origin of protein used in making cosmetics, the effect of processing on prion concentrations, and the transmission rates for dermal and ocular exposure. The risk assessment states that what scientists do not know about the transmission of BSE from food also goes for cosmetics.
The FDA's assessment is qualitative, but, it provides a "logical structure that a quantitative model could use if one were constructed," according to the agency.
But, some conclusions can be drawn about the risk to human health without quantitative data, the agency says. "For example, the number of BSE-affected cattle, and the variability in human susceptibility, will impact the risk of both food- and cosmetic-associated [BSE]."
Some of the agency's uncertainties, however, may affect both sides of a cost-benefit analysis, the FDA says. "In particular, if there is not substantial use of cattle-derived protein in making cosmetics, then there will be little exposure, and, also, little economic consequence from regulating use. Conversely, high use would require substantial substitution and alternative means of animal-by-product disposal."
The Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association would not comment on the FDA risk assessment, as the organization is still reviewing the document, a group spokesperson said.
Japanese Experts Say No Use Testing Young Cows For BSE
TOKYO (AFP) - A Japanese panel of experts on mad cow disease said in a draft that testing young cattle for the disease is not technically feasible, suggesting the government's blanket screening rules could be eased.
If the government adopts the report, it could also clear the way for a resumption of US beef imports as Japan would also be likely to drop its insistence on blanket testing of all American cattle.
Younger cows, particularly those younger than 30 months old, are generally not considered at risk of developing bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), the report said Friday.
In any event, younger cows do not accumulate enough abnormal prions -- the protein believed to cause the disease -- to be detected by current tests, the report said.
"The capability of the current testing technology is limited. It is not capable of detecting infections during the incubation period," the report said.
The panel is a part of the Food Commission under the Cabinet Office.
The report added, however, Japan's blanket testing regime has resulted in the discovery of madcow infections in young cows, such as a 21-month-old and a 23-month-old cow.
Japan introduced measures to screen every cow slaughtered for consumption after it became the only country in Asia to have confirmed BSE with the discovery of its first case in September 2001.
The panel also emphasized the importance of excluding "risk materials" such as the brain, spinal cord and eyes, from food distribution systems, said administrative officials for the panel.
Japanese and US officials will hold a two-day working-level talks from July 21 in Tokyo over the beef import ban.
The panel's discussion followed a series of news reports saying the panel was drafting a recommendation to the government to suggest Tokyo should stop mad cow screening for young cows.
The draft made available late Friday stopped short of that however and Cabinet Office officials said they were not aware of any such report.
Japan banned beef imports from the United States following the discovery in December of the first case of mad cow disease there.
Japan has argued that before lifting its ban the United States must screen all slaughtered cows for BSE.
Washington has rejected Tokyo's demand, saying the blanket testing for young cow was not scientifically meaningful.
Patricia A. Doyle, PhD
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