Researcher calls for autoclaving in BSE prevention

April 30, 2001 Feedstuffs by Sally Schuff

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The infective agents that cause bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) can be effectively inactivated by sterlizing meat and bone meal, a prominent researcher from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Washington told reporters last week.

During a panel presentation, Dr. Paul Brown, the senior research scientist at the NIH laboratory of central nervous system diseases, said that by autoclaving prions, the infective agents that cause BSE, under pressure at a temperature of 134 degrees F, they can effectively be deactivated.

The U.S. should have a regulation insisting that meat and bone meal be autoclaved, said Brown. Brown has written a number of peer-reviewed papers for scientific journals on BSE research and speaks frequently on BSE, offering scientific evidence that the disease is unlikely in the U.S. because of long-standing efforts by the government and industry to prevent exposure and possible amplification.

Brown said the autoclaving technique he recommends is the same one hospitals use to sterilize surgical instruments used in brain surgeries to prevent the spread of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy diseases.

Tom Cook, vice president of the National Renderers Assn., pointed out that the U.S. rendering industry currently uses high temperatures. Due to the cost, he said, in the absence of any cases of BSE in the U.S., the industry was unlikely to support an autoclaving regulation.

The discussion took place during a BSE panel session at the annual meeting of the North American Agricultural Journalists.

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