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35% of AMR meat samples found to have unacceptable tissues:

December 25, 2003 Kyodo News
WASHINGTON, Dec. 25, Kyodo - An agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture pointed out in its February report that about 35% of samples from advanced meat and bone separation machinery had ''unacceptable nervous tissues'' detected, Kyodo News learned Thursday.

In addition, 29% and 10% of the samples had spinal cord tissue and dorsal nerve root ganglia tissue detected, respectively, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said.

The FSIS compiled the report on the machine, commonly called Advanced Meat Recovery (AMR) systems, based on a survey it conducted from the middle of January until the end of August in 2002.

It conducted the survey in response to concerns raised by consumer group and industry representatives about the risk to human health from consumption of bovine spinal cord due to a possible link between mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), and variant Creutzfeld-Jakob (vCJD) disease in humans.

According to the report, four of the 34 establishments from which samples were collected were ''able to consistently produce AMR products derived from beef vertebrae, that did not contain unacceptable nervous tissues (spinal cord or dorsal spinal nerve root ganglia).''

In March 1994, the FSIS proposed amending the federal meat inspection regulations to allow meat produced by AMR systems to be labeled as ''meat.'' The final regulation became effective in January 1995.

In its background information on the survey, the FSIS said it had convened a group of experts to determine the human risk of BSE from current meat processing practices, adding that government scientists and public health experts agreed there is no evidence of BSE or vCJD in humans in the United States.

''However, the presence of spinal cord in meat is not expected and cannot be allowed in products produced through the AMR system,'' the agency said.


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