Ministry targets 4 cattle parts

October 7, 2001 The Daily Yomiuri (Tokyo)
The Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Ministry on Friday issued a directive to food manufacturers to stop processing four infectious cattle parts that, if eaten, may cause the human form of mad cow disease, and also asked them to recall the processed food made from those parts.

The four body parts are the brain, eyeballs, bone marrow and the tip of the small intestine of cattle from countries infected with the disease, including Japan.

The ministry also asked the manufacturers to stop making and recall processed food that might contain the infectious parts.

Because the ministry's move is a virtual ban on sales of processed foods that include beef by-products, such as extract made from boiled bone and meat mixed with bone marrow, manufacturers must thoroughly examine which raw materials they use. After mad cow disease was confirmed in Japan, the ministry on Sept. 27 told processed food manufacturers to burn their stocks of the infectious parts. The four infectious parts will not be distributed as raw materials in the future.

The current directive targets only processed food products made before the mad cow

disease was confirmed.

Beef extract, which is made from bone and other body parts, is widely used as seasoning and in soups.

Manufacturers hoping to continue producing and selling such products must ensure the bone marrow is not mixed with infectious raw materials. They must also submit a report to public health centers.

The ministry requires all manufacturers to check their products within one week.

The ministry said manufacturers do not need to remove such products from their stores until after they have examined them.

The ministry does not know how many products made with beef by-products are on the market because unlike drugs, there is no system to approve beef products.

Manufacturers are also required to check the contents of so-called beauty drinks containing collagen made with raw materials including cattle skin, and so-called health food made from powdered bone.

The directive does not apply to food products made from cattle from countries that are not known to be affected by the disease.

Also excused from the directive are processed foods that are made from cattle originating from countries that have had outbreaks of the disease, but have undergone heat and chemical treatment to inactivate prions (the proteins that cause bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease).

In February, the ministry imposed a blanket ban on processed foods, including ham and sausage, from European Union countries affected by the disease, but it only asked manufacturers to refrain from importing processed food such as stock and nutrition supplements.

Beef extract is used in bouillon, snacks and pouch curry. Powdered bone is used in fish flour and calcium supplements. Placenta essence is used in beauty drinks and supplements, gelatin is used as stabilizer in ice cream and baby food, and collagen is used in beauty food. All cattle to be checked

The government will expand the examination of mad cow disease at meat hygiene examination centers to include all cattle in the country, government sources said Friday.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has decided to begin testing meat cattle aged 30 months or older on Oct. 18 to check for abnormal prions, pathogens that causes the human form of mad cow disease.

However, LDP members have voiced concern that public distrust of beef will increase if all cattle are not examined, so the government decided to include cattle under 30 months of age.

As a result, 1.3 million cattle will be examined. One million cattle over 30 months of age and 300,000 under 30 months are processed into meat each year.

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