USDA Announcement Regarding BSE Negative Test Result
Jan Lyons, cattle producer, Manhattan, Kansas
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
June 30, 2004

"During the technical briefing held at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday, June 30, 2004, the United States Department of Agriculture announced the results of a test for BSE (also known as mad cow disease) on an animal whose initial rapid screening test results were inconclusive.  Using the gold standard of BSE testing, immunohistochemistry, the government has confirmed that the animal did not have BSE.  USDA announced on Friday, June 25, 2004 this animal had an inconclusive test result.

"This result is not unexpected. As part of USDA’s expanded BSE surveillance program, a rapid screening test is used as the first step in a two-part testing process. USDA expected some inconclusive results from this initial step. Because the rapid tests are sensitive, they are subject to occasional inconclusive results that later prove to be negative. It is a little like going through the airport metal detector. We all have had the detector beep on us at least once, but it didn’t mean we were carrying a prohibited item. It simply meant more testing was needed.

"The rapid test allows the government to conduct a strong and statistically valid targeted surveillance for BSE. America’s cattle producers support the expanded effort as a way to determine the prevalence of BSE, if it exists in this country, and eliminate it.

"While this animal did not have BSE, the government has indicated that finding some additional cases of the disease is possible through the expanded surveillance program. In addition to keeping this particular animal out of the food supply, food safety is assured because USDA prohibits from the food supply any material that could carry the BSE agent (such as brain and spinal cord). These are removed before processing.

"Top scientists, government experts and food industry leaders agree that U.S. beef remains safe and that the risk of BSE to humans is near zero. That’s due in part to the fact that the BSE agent is not found in the beef we commonly eat, such as steaks, roasts and ground beef. In fact, after years of research, scientists have never found BSE in beef muscle.

"As America's beef producers, our livelihood depends on providing the safest beef in the world. As a rancher, a mother and a grandmother, I know the beef I produce is served in homes around the world, including my family’s home. Providing safe and wholesome beef remains our number one priority.”

Additional Information:

The government has built and maintained four effective firewalls to ensure that U.S. beef remains safe from BSE.

  1. In 2003, USDA strengthened its food safety program by banning from the human food supply any cattle that appear ill, are unable to walk or show signs of possible neurological disease. The USDA also prohibited from the food supply any material from animals that could carry the BSE agent (such as spinal cord or brain).
  2. In 1997, the FDA banned feeding cattle the type of animal-derived protein that can spread BSE.  International experts agree that a feed ban breaks the cycle of BSE and assures it will be eliminated. The FDA reports a 99 percent compliance rate for the feed ban.
  3. In 1990, the United States was the first country in the world without BSE to begin a BSE surveillance and testing program.
  4. In 1989, the United States was the first country in the world without BSE to ban imports of beef, cattle products and cattle from countries where BSE is prevalent.

To learn more about the risks of BSE, information can found at the following websites:

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