CHICAGO - Safeguards in place and others being implemented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture are ensuring the safety of America's meat supply, and consumers should not fear unwittingly exposing themselves to mad cow disease. The Institute of Food Technologists is confident that surveillance systems based upon sound scientific evidence will keep the U.S. food supply the safest and most abundant in the world.
"Finding a case of BSE in the United States does not mean the system is broken," said IFT President Ann Hollingsworth, Ph.D., "It means our system for detection and response works."
IFT supports the policies USDA has designed to further protect against BSE including banning of all downer cattle from the human food chain, prohibiting air-injection stunning during slaughter, and strengthening the regulation of Specified Risk Materials.
"The USDA's immediate ban from the human food chain animals that cannot walk should help restore confidence that America's beef is safe," said Hollingsworth. "The same can be expected of the confinement and testing of cattle at risk of having nervous-system disease."
It is important to note that meat from condemned animals has never been permitted for use as human food in this country, she stated.
"There is no scientific basis for testing vast amounts of slaughtered cattle, nor are there laboratory resources for such a system, nor the means to store safely for extended periods all the beef that ultimately is safe," said Hollingsworth.
IFT also recognizes the effectiveness of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's BSE-prevention measures including its investigation of all organizations involved in processing the animal and its coordinated effort with state and other officials to halt the distribution of all meat and bone meal from the infected cow.
The United States is the 24th country to diagnose a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy within its borders.