The International Review Subcommittee gave their report on the United States' first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in early February. The biggest cry from the cattle industry was that the recommendations varied greatly from the Harvard Risk Assessment. Now the USDA Secretary's Advisory Committee on Foreign Animal and Poultry Disease says those discrepancies must be resolved before they can make recommendations on future regulatory changes to current U.S. surveillance measures.
The Advisory Committee is required to give scientific recommendations to the Secretary from the international review team's suggestions. But, in a letter report to Veneman, the Committee says, "A major discrepancy exists with the Subcommittee's conclusions that BSE continues to circulate, or even amplify, in the U.S. and North America, when compared with the Harvard risk assessment." The letter adds, "The Committee must have this issue of risk resolved prior to completing its recommendations to the Secretary."
USDA Chief Veterinary Officer Ron DeHaven explains that because a differing perception of risk exists, a direct collaboration of the international review panel and the Harvard team needs to clear up any discrepancies before the U.S. implements any further regulatory changes. DeHaven says the expanded feed ban for all ruminant products from not only other ruminant feeds but all mammalian feeds was addressed, but way an area that would need to be addressed in future collaboration between the subcommittee and Harvard.
DeHaven summarized the recommendations from the Committee coincide with several statements already made by USDA. This includes
- Support for an increased national surveillance program for BSE;
- A comprehensive system to capture dead and non-ambulatory cattle for collection;
- Quick implementation of a national ID plan, following the proposed U.S. Animal Identification Plan (USAIP);
- Enhance development of additional regional labs to conduct rapid screening tests for BSE; and;
- Encourage major beef exporting nations to work through the OIE to rationalize trading protocols that apply to countries with a low number of BSE cases that have adequate safeguards in place.