Ongoing USDA BSE Surveillance Program
Gary Weber, Ph.D., Executive Director, Regulatory Affairs
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), Washington, D.C.
July 20, 2006

"The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has just announced it will transition to an ongoing BSE surveillance program. NCBA believes this move is scientifically justified, and it reflects an appropriate level of testing for a country with an extremely low risk of BSE.

"The new level of BSE surveillance is rigorous and exceeds international guidelines by 10 times. In addition, our food supply remains safe from BSE thanks to extensive protective measures already in place. "America's beef producers are eager to provide the world’s consumers with high quality, safe U.S. beef. As Secretary Johanns stated, 'BSE surveillance is not a food safety program.' This announcement is expected and should not affect resumption of trade since human health is protected by interlocking safeguards, specifically removal of material that would most likely carry the BSE agent (such as brain and spinal cord).

"The scientific analysis of USDA's enhanced surveillance program found the disease to be extremely rare, occurring at a rate of less than one case per one million adult cattle.  This analysis is the strongest evidence yet that the BSE risk in this country is exceptionally low. The program far exceeded expectations, testing an average of 1,000 cattle per day - primarily older animals that are at greater risk for the disease. The International Review Team recommended the enhanced surveillance program for a 12 to 18 month period to determine BSE prevalence in the United States.  Now, 25 months later, the program has tested more than 759,000 cattle and only identified two cases.

"We know BSE is extremely rare in the United States. With our multiple safeguards in place to protect all beef, experts agree we are doing all the right things to protect the food supply and cattle, and that the disease is headed toward full eradication.

"The livelihood of cattle producers depends on delivering safe and wholesome food to dinner tables around the world and to our own families every day. USDA’s announcement today provides even further assurance that we're doing just that."

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