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Consumers Union: U.S. & Canada Are Not Doing Enough to Stop Spread of Mad Cow Disease

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Michael Hansen, Ph.D. (914)
Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Consumers Union Concerned that U.S. and Canadian Governments Are Not
Protecting Public from Mad Cow Risk

Group urges governments to close dangerous loopholes in animal feed rules

YONKERS, N.Y. -- A second mad cow in less than two weeks was confirmed
today from Alberta, Canada according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency
(CFIA)--bringing the total number to four confirmed mad cow cases in North
America in less than two years. This cow is the very first to be born after
the 1997 ban of ruminant protein in animal feed went into effect in Canada
and the U.S. Cattle feed containing ruminants is the means by which
scientists believe that mad cow disease is spread.

"This latest case of mad cow highlights that dangerous loopholes in
both countries' laws still exist," says Michael Hansen, PhD, a scientist
with Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports and advisor to its campaign. "In the United States, for example, the Food
and Drug Administration (FDA) still allows cattle remains to be fed to other
animals, such as pigs, and chickens, whose remains can then be fed back to
cows. Even the remains of an animal known to carry a form of mad cow disease
could go into rendered feed, under current FDA rules," Hansen added.

Consumers Union also remains extremely concerned not only that the
feed bans in Canada and the United States are inadequate, but that they are
not well enforced. According to a letter issued by Senator Conrad and
Representative Waxman to Governor Johanns (the current nominee for Secretary
of Agriculture), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued several
"import alerts" on Canadian animal feed suspected of containing prohibited
feed material.

The CFIA conducted a study that confirmed that over two-thirds of
Canadian animal feed and almost half of imported animal feed labeled as
"vegetarian" contained animal materials. As recently as December 10, 2004,
Canadian regulators conceded that their feed ban was not completely
effective and that opportunities for banned materials to enter into animal
feed still existed and, therefore, proposed strengthening the standards of
their animal feed ban. However, Consumers Union does not believe that the
proposed standards go far enough. Nevertheless, the USDA has proposed to
reopen the border to beef trade with Canada.

With so much uncertainty about the safety of animal feed and public health
consequences, Consumers Union believes that:

1. The U.S. should keep the border closed and prohibit beef imports from
Canada at this time,
2. The U.S. and Canada should eliminate deficiencies in their feed ban
rules, including the prohibition of blood and bone meal. In addition, the
U.S. should also ban food waste and poultry litter including excrement in
animal feed.
3. The U.S. and Canada should adopt and implement the animal feed
restrictions recommended by the international expert subcommittee to USDA's
Foreign Animal and Poultry Disease Advisory Committee, which includes
adequate enforcement of the feed ban through an inspection program including
sampling and testing of animal feed.
4. All cows over 20 months old should be tested for BSE.

For more information, please visit Consumers Union's dedicated website to
food safety at

Michael Hansen, Ph.D.
Senior Research Associate
Consumer Policy Institute/Consumers Union
101 Truman Ave.
Yonkers, NY 10703