Japan Will Ease Mad Cow Disease Restrictions on U.S. Beef

Pathogen Behind Mad Cow Disease Unstoppable

For only the second time in ten years, Japan will further ease restrictions on U.S. beef imports starting to allow entry of beef and beef products from cattle less than 30 months of age. They will implement the new regulation on February 1, 2013.Previously, a 2006 restriction limited U.S. beef imports to products from cattle under 20 months of age. Japan set that restriction when it allowed limited U.S. beef imports to resume after a cow with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was found in a U.S herd in 2003.Japan’s easing of restrictions on U.S. beef imports is a sign that there is more product demand than fear in the Asian nation about BSE, popularly known as Mad Cow Disease.

mad cow disease and Japan imports of U.S. beef

Opening Japan’s market to more U.S. beef will result in “hundreds of million of dollars in exports of U.S. beef to Japan in coming years,” according to a statement by U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

Kirk and Vilsack depicted the trade agreement as a “near normalization” of beef trade between the two nations. “This is great news for American ranchers and beef companies, who can now—as a result of this agreement—increase their exports of U.S. beef to their largest market for beef in Asia,” Ambassador Kirk said.

Kirk called it a “significant and historic step” that will grow American exports and jobs.

Japan banned U.S. beef in 2003 after the first cow with BSE was discovered near Mabton, WA. It took three years before it allowed some imports from the younger animals.

Japan’s independent Food Safety Commission (FSC) conducted a risk assessment in 2011 that found raising the age limit in conjunction of U.S. controls on specific risk materials (SRM) could address safety concerns.

land application sewage sludge

The expanded U.S. beef exports to Japan could reach the country by mid February and will likely put upward pressure on prices as American cattle numbers are at the lowest levels in 60 years. The drought affecting much of the U.S. has caused farmers and ranches to reduce their herds because dry lands aren’t producing enough to support the cattle.

public relations firm and public affairs firm Denver and Phoenix

Crossbow Communications specializes in issue management and public affairs. Alzheimer’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, chronic wasting disease and the prion disease epidemic is an area of special expertise. Please contact Gary Chandler to join our coalition for reform gary@crossbow1.com.

Criminal Puts Bad Beef Into Food Supply

The following case demonstrates how farmers are willing and able to ignore food safety laws around the world, while regulators have little leverage over the situation and the judicial system slaps them on the wrist for taking deadly risks with the health of millions of people. Prion mismanagement is a serious threat to life as we know it.

Another Case Of Prion Mismanagement

Carlisle Crown Court heard that the crimes committed by David Holmes, 52, led to the disappearance of 33 cattle. They likely became hamburgers and pot roast for unsuspecting families across the UK and could have contaminated the entire production chain.

mad cow disease and prions

Many of the cows were born before 1996, meaning that they posed a potential risk to humans if they ever got into the food chain. Infected meat has been blamed for causing most of the 170 deaths in the UK from the brain disease variant CJD, the human form of BSE, also known as mad cow disease.

Some of Holmes’ animals were at Crook Farm, Roadhead, north of Carlisle.

Passing sentence, Judge Peter Davies told the farmer: “I am satisfied that these offenses were committed deliberately for commercial profit.” The judge said that it was imperative that diseased cattle were not provided for human consumption.

Holmes flouted the regulations, deliberately obstructing the authorities and failing to keep proper records.

As a result, 33 of the defendant’s cattle could not be traced, having been sold “at great risk to the public”, said Judge Davies, who added: “It was a cynical pattern of offending, without consideration for the public.”

The court heard there was no evidence that any infected meat had actually entered the human food chain.

At an earlier hearing, Holmes, now living at Nutholm Farm, Lockerbie, admitted 30 counts of contravening cattle identification and movement regulations. He repeatedly failed to notify the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) that he was moving cattle between different locations.

The offences included failing to keep a proper register of his herds, using an ear tag on a cow previously that identified another animal, and giving officials misleading information about his cows.

The crimes were committed on a continuous basis between 2009 and 2011. They happened at the farm near Carlisle, and at others in Northumberland, Staffordshire, and Derbyshire.

Holmes has previous convictions which date back to the 1980s, including a number of animal cruelty offenses.

The farmer’s barrister pointed out he had given up cattle dealing, and the company he ran for that purpose – D&A Livestock Limited – was in liquidation and would not be resurrected.

The judge said figures showed the defendant’s business generated just short of £143,000 in the last nine months, while his remaining cattle are valued at between £30,000 and £45,000, so there was no reason for Holmes not to pay costs.

The judge imposed a fine of £3,000 and prosecution costs of £6,600. Holmes will have to serve three months in jail if he fails to pay up.

In addition he was given a 12-month jail term, suspended for two years, and told to do 150 hours of unpaid work in the community.

public relations firm and public affairs firm Denver and Phoenix

Crossbow Communications specializes in issue management and public affairs. Alzheimer’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, chronic wasting disease and the prion disease epidemic is an area special expertise. Please contact Gary Chandler to join our coalition for reform gary@crossbow1.com.

 

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Takes Teenager

Girl Died Rapidly From Neurological Disorder

When 15-year-old Claire McVey appeared reluctant to eat in front of her family, her mother Annie assumed she was just having teen wobbles about her weight. But Claire was showing the first signs of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (prion disease) or vCJD – a condition that would leave the bubbly teenager dead within six months. It’s the human form of mad cow disease and an overall prion epidemic that is spreading exponentially.

annie and claire mcvey

It was in 1996 that Annie, like all mothers, was horrified to learn that dozens of people had been infected with an incurable degenerative brain condition caught by eating beef from cattle infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE (there are other vectors of concern).

“Being vegetarian, I always cooked meat-free dishes at home but my two children would occasionally eat meat elsewhere,” says Annie who lives in Kentisbury Ford in Devon. “When I heard about BSE being passed on to humans I was horrified. I wasn’t going to risk my children’s health so I immediately stopped Claire and her brother from eating all meat. What I didn’t know was that it was already too late.”

It was four years later, in July 1999, that Annie, who worked as a risk manager at their local district hospital, first noticed her daughter had become withdrawn and was behaving oddly.

“She stopped eating in front of us,” she recalls. “At first I thought she might be developing an eating disorder but it was more an anxiety about people seeing her eat. Then she started to have an issue about going to school and she didn’t want to wear her shoes. I couldn’t understand what had got into her.”

Worried, Annie took Claire to see their GP, who diagnosed the teenager with suspected depression. But still feeling uneasy about her daughter’s behavior, she arranged for Claire to see a pediatrician.

“After carrying out a neurological examination he told me that he suspected Claire had a brain tumor,” recalls Annie. “My world just fell apart.”

land application sewage sludge

Claire was immediately admitted to Frenchay Children’s Hospital in Bristol, 100 miles away, for more tests.

“Over the next week she was tested from head to toe,” says Annie. “She had MRI scans, a lumbar puncture, biopsies, neurological testing and seemingly every blood test going but the doctors couldn’t find anything.”

Yet Claire’s health was deteriorating rapidly. She had trouble with her balance, felt very weak and couldn’t walk.

“Eventually, they told me the news I’d dreaded the most,” recalls Annie. “Claire had suspected vCJD. It was like being punched in the stomach. I knew what it meant. Claire was being handed a death sentence.”

Since doctors are not able to confirm a patient had vCJD until a brain biopsy is conducted after their death, there were no more answers.

All Annie could do was take Claire back to the home they shared with Annie’s partner, Wayne, and Claire’s older brother.

“Back home, Claire asked me if she was going to die,” recalls Annie. “All I could say was that I didn’t know. She said she was scared that it would hurt, so I promised Claire that if there was any pain I would make sure it was relieved. She seemed eerily calm, like she’d accepted her fate. I could hardly believe what was happening.”

Over the next four months, Claire grew weaker and weaker, rapidly becoming less and less mobile. She was on medication to ease her anxiety and painkillers for her muscle spasms. She needed help dressing herself and eating and drinking but as she didn’t want to go back to hospital, a place was arranged for Claire at Little Bridge House, a children’s hospice in Fremington near Barnstaple. There, staff doted on Claire and she was able to find peaceful moments, listening to music in their sensory room.

“As time went on she couldn’t move at all,” says Annie. “She began to slur her speech and I wondered if she’d remember me the next day.”

biosolids land application and disease

Claire spent Christmas at home, returning to the hospice a few days later. She had been excited about the millennium New Year’s Eve but, fading rapidly, she slept through all the celebrations.

“The next morning she couldn’t believe she’d missed it all,” says Annie. “When the nurse asked what she’d like for breakfast she requested Buck’s Fizz! Then she asked to be lifted into her chair so she could go around and say ‘Happy New Year’ to everyone. I think that was her way of saying goodbye – she died 10 days later on January 11. Her brother and I were sat by her side as Claire slipped away in her sleep.”

Over the following months the pain of losing her daughter took its toll and in November 2000 Annie began to experience problems with her own health. She was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and chronic fatigue. She developed an autoimmune disorder, which left her weak and immobile. Too weak to get out of bed, Annie felt eaten up by grief.

“I was in a terrible place,” she says. “I was devastated, frustrated and unable to do anything. All I could think about was Claire and what had happened to her. I felt consumed by anger that the government compensation promised was taking so long, not just for me, but for the vCJD families still caring for people. These families were going through the worst time of their lives and finding the process of getting compensation very difficult. I wanted to do something to help but the legal process confused me. I needed to understand it, to make sense of it, so in 2004 I decided to study law through the Open University,” says Claire. “My aim was to support families so they could get a care package and be compensated fairly.”

Wheelchair-bound and still suffering from debilitating fatigue, Annie made it her mission to complete her degree.

During her six years of study with the OU she put her learning into practice, too, regularly fighting tooth and nail for the rights of other vCJD families (prion disease). Although Annie, now 54, did receive a payout in 2006, she was dismayed by the system that compensated families purely on the basis of how well they could express the severity of their suffering. So in 2010, she and other families took their case to the High Court, claiming the compensation scheme was flawed. Although their challenge and a subsequent Court of Appeal action failed, Annie was able to find peace in the fact she had done everything she could.

prion disease epidemic

“The judge said he sympathized with our case but he had to apply legal principles,” she says. “It was disappointing but we kept it in the public eye for a long time. We made our mark.”

Later that year, Annie graduated with a Bachelor of Law honors degree, which she dedicated to Claire’s memory during the ceremony. She now plans to take a masters degree in Medical Ethics.

“I cannot praise the Open University enough,” she says. “It allows people like me, who can’t go to university full time, to study for a degree. The quality of the courses and the support they have given me has been excellent.”

And Annie is still putting her studies to good use.

“There are so many downtrodden people out there because they don’t know where to start with the law,” she says. “I work for a couple of unions, looking at cases, giving them advice, assisting their members and helping them with personal injury claims.

“When you have a law degree in a small town, everyone comes for help. I’m very busy and quite content with that. I can’t think of anything more worthwhile.”

And despite the hardships she has endured, she remains upbeat.

“Losing Claire was the worst moment of my life,” she says. “I’m in a life that doesn’t feel real. I’m waiting for my girl to come back but she won’t. It is a physical pain. But what I went through was nothing compared to Claire.

“I’ve had a good life. I may be incapacitated but whenever I feel sorry for myself she pops into my head. Claire was interested in law and she might well have gone on to study it herself if she’d had the chance. She missed out on so many chances so I’m determined to make the most of mine.”

public relations firm and public affairs firm Denver and Phoenix

Crossbow Communications specializes in issue management and public affairs. Alzheimer’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, chronic wasting disease and the prion disease epidemic is an area of special expertise. Please contact Gary Chandler to join our coalition for reform gary@crossbow1.com.

Britain Doubles Estimate Of People Carrying Prion Pathogen

Mad Cow Disease A Symptom Of Bigger Problems

About 24,000 people in the UK are carrying the agent that can cause the deadly brain condition Creutzfeldt Jakob disease (CJD), linked with eating infected meat – twice the number previously estimated by scientists. The latest figure is based on a study of 30,000 appendixes removed in operations which were tested for the presence of the prion, or misfolded protein, that causes the condition.

mad cow disease and prions

More than a decade ago ministers assured the public that beef was safe to eat, and then had to eat their words when, in March 1996, it was announced that a new disease, variant CJD, had been discovered in humans.

It had come from eating meat from cows infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), a similar disease caused by the now discontinued practice of feeding ground-up animal carcasses to cows as part of their diet. BSE became known as mad cow disease, and in humans CJD is characterized by rapidly progressive dementia and death.

However, only a small proportion of people who carried the prion developed the clinical disease. There have been 173 cases of variant CJD in the UK since it was first identified in 1996.

prion disease epidemic

The number of carriers of the prion is significant because there is a theoretical risk they could spread the disease through blood transfusions or surgical instruments which are not properly sterilized between operations.

Tough measures are in place to minimize these risks. The Health Protection Agency, which published the new figures, said one in 2,000 of the adult population of Britain were carriers of the condition, compared with one in 4,000 shown in a smaller survey in 2004.

Older people, born before 1961, were twice as likely to be carriers as younger people, yet less likely to develop the disease. Professor Sheila Bird of the Medical Research Council Biostatistics unit in Cambridge said: “Our dietary studies suggested older people were more exposed [to BSE infected meat] but they weren’t turning up as clinical cases. They appear to be protected in some way. This shows how important it is to do the surveillance.”

Professor Hugh Perry, chair of the MRC’s neuroscience and mental health board, said: “These figures reinforce the importance that our efforts to prevent, diagnose and treat this devastating disease progress as rigorously as possible.”

A Department of Health spokesman said: “These findings relate to people’s potential to develop vCJD, not additional cases – in fact there have been no new UK cases for nearly two years.

“We have one of the safest blood supplies in the world, but experts will consider the Health Protection Agency study, and any additional measures to reduce the potential risk of transmission through blood transfusions will be put into place.”

The spokesman denied that a delay in publication of the findings was an attempt to bury bad news during the Olympics. “This was a technical study and part of the regular Health Protection Report that is always released on a Friday afternoon,” he said.

“There is now real evidence of the potential transmissibility of Alzheimer’s disease,” says Thomas Wiesniewski M.D. a prion and Alzheimer’s researcher at New York University School of Medicine. “In fact, this ability to transmit an abnormal conformation is probably a universal property of amyloid-forming proteins (prions).”

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/up-to-one-in-2000-britons-could-carry-cjd-agent-8031920.html

public relations firm and public affairs firm Denver and Phoenix

Crossbow Communications specializes in issue management and public affairs. Alzheimer’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, chronic wasting disease and the prion disease epidemic is an area special expertise. Please contact Gary Chandler to join our coalition for reform gary@crossbow1.com.