USDA Quarantines 2 Farms Amid Mad Cow Investigation; Offspring Euthanized

USDA Quarantines 2 Farms Amid Mad Cow Investigation; Offspring Euthanized

The USDA announced on April 24 that the nation’s fourth case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), a brain wasting disease affecting cattle, was discovered in a 10-year-old cow.  The USDA didn’t elaborate on the cow’s symptoms other than to say it was “humanely euthanized after it developed lameness and became recumbent.”  Outward signs of the disease can include unsteadiness and lack of apparent coordination.  Cows which “go lame” and can not stand are immediately euthanized and examined.

It had been euthanized at a Tulare County dairy farm a week earlier.  The carcass was then sent to the Baker Commodities rendering plant near the town of Hanford, CA.  The random testing (the US tests less than half a percent of all cows bound for market) took place that day.

Two farms have been quarantined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as the agency continues to investigate last month’s discovery.  Another investigation into a calf ranch where the infected cow was raised 10 years ago has also been launched, according to a statement from the USDA.  USDA officials said the cow was never presented for human consumption and was not a threat.  Other cattle raised with the infected cow have yet to be identified or located.

The dairy farm where the cow was initially discovered has been under quarantine since the discovery, agriculture officials said.  Wednesday’s announcement of a second quarantine involves a farm closely tied to the initial discovery, the USDA said.  Quarantine is standard procedure when a positive test result occurs.  The agency is still trying to determine if any at-risk cattle are present at either of the two farms, although they declined to name the dairies in question or what state they were located in.

USDA officials also said on Wednesday that within the last two years, the diseased cow gave birth to a stillborn calf.  They did not elaborate on how that carcass was disposed.

Cows contract the disease by eating rendered remains from other sick cattle, which are processed into protein supplements.  In the United States it’s no longer legal to feed cattle to cattle.  Rendered cattle remains are, however, used in chicken feed.  In turn, the chicken droppings and spilled feed are then rendered back into cattle feed.  Little documentation exists studying the safety of such practices.

U.S. health officials say there is no risk to the food supply.  The California cow was never destined for the meat market, and it developed “atypical” BSE from a random mutation, something that scientists find happens occasionally.  A natural protein in the body folds abnormally, forming a prion.  This mis-fold continues and propagates further prions, eventually killing the brains cells.  Cattle that are “downers”, cattle which can’t stand by themselves, are not allowed for human consumption.  Generally they are sold to pet food manufacturers, where no such restriction applies.

The FDA and the California Department of Food and Agriculture have been examining feed records for the affected dairy.  Ten separate suppliers have been identified.  The USDA tests 40,000 of the approximately 35 million cattle slaughtered annually for BSE.  Other countries, including Europe, blanket test all animals over a certain age, generally 24 months.  Baker Commodities is a voluntary participant in the testing program.

Eating contaminated meat or some other animal products from cattle that have been infected with BSE is thought to be the cause of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.  The fatal brain disease was blamed for the deaths of 150 people in Britain during an outbreak in the 1980s and 90s.

Salmonella Sushi – First Lawsuit Linked To Salmonella Outbreak Has Been Filed.

Salmonella Sushi - First Lawsuit Linked To Salmonella Outbreak Has Been Filed.Recently we wrote a bit about the now 20 state salmonella outbreak that was occurring, linked to a fish processor in California.  Moon Marine voluntarily recalled 58,828 pounds of frozen raw yellowfin tuna after it was linked to the outbreak.  The tuna was packaged as “Nakaochi Scrape AA” or “AAA.”   It’s not sold to consumers, rather a bulk product meant for restaurants and food producers.  Nakaochi Scrape is the backmeat that’s shaved off fish bones and added to products like ground yellowfin tuna.  It’s used in many sushi rolls, among them the spicy tuna rolls that sickened most people.  This particular batch of fish came from India.

The Food and Drug Administration said more than 140 illnesses have been reported, including 12 people who have been hospitalized. No deaths have resulted.  The first lawsuit stemming from that outbreak has officially been filed.

Two Wisconsin women, 22 and 33, claim they were severely sickened after eating tuna sushi rolls at a local restaurant. The sushi rolls allegedly contained ground yellowfin tuna with Nakaochi Scrape.  The victims’ lawyer told MSNBC that distributors may have removed packaging before selling the product to restaurants, leaving them unaware they were selling a potentially dangerous product.

The symptoms of salmonella infections generally include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps within 72 hours of eating tainted food.  Victims usually recover after about a week.

The two Wisconsin women bringing the suit suffered infections that were more severe, requiring hospitalization.  One of the women suffered an ulcerated colon, which her lawyer attributes to the tainted fish product.

Food-poisoning cases like this lawsuit generally fall under product liability law.  Anyone in the chain of distribution; the manufacturer, distributor, wholesalers, even the restaurant, can be held liable.  It’s not known where the contamination originated from, investigations are underway to determine the source.  All of the victims were infected with a relatively rare strain of the bacteria, salmonella bareilly.

Ground meats, such as beef or chicken, are often a problematic.  The sheer quantity of animals used to make the product means that one infected animal can taint large amounts of the final product.  Ground beef and poultry are cooked before being served, generally killing off any harmful bacteria.  Because sushi is eaten raw, any contaminated food is infectious.

Roast Pork Loin With Rosemary, Thyme, And Garlic

Roast Pork Loin With Rosemary, Thyme, And Garlic

For a very long time I hated the idea of pork.  OK, not pork.  Pork chops.  Pork is great.  Ham is great.  Bacon is great.  So why no love for the pork chop?  I think it’s because pork chops very often turn out like meaty grey hockey pucks.  They look very inviting.  Often they are not.  No wonder applesauce is so popular with pork chops.  So pork chops this is not.  I don’t buy chops anymore.  I just buy a tenderloin when the urge hits.

I first started messing around with pork tenderloins a few years ago.  I tried many different methods, many different temperatures….endless.  I tried an experiment when we were hosting Thanksgiving a year or two ago.  I made two giant tenderloins; one  sweet, one savory.  I used the revised FDA safe cooking temperatures, in this case 145 degrees F.  Anyone who can remember President Eisenhower would be horrified.  Pork’s always been 160 degrees F, for as long as anyone can remember.  As my mother used to say of eating raw chocolate chip cookie dough from the bowl…”You’ll get worms…” Continue reading

Leaked Memo Highlights Spicy Tuna Roll Salmonella Freak Out – Sushi Likely Source Of 19! State Salmonella Outbreak

Leaked Memo Highlights Spicy Tuna Roll Salmonella Freak Out - Sushi Likely Source Of 19! State Salmonella OutbreakNo secret I’m a huge fan of sushi.  I like sushi rolls just fine but I’m big on the slab-of-fish-on-a-bed-of-rice nigiri thing.  Spicy tuna rolls are sort of the ground beef of the sushi world.  One more reason to think likewise today.  Salmonella.  An outbreak of an unusual strain of salmonella called Salmonella Bareilly has hit 19 states and DC, infecting 90 people since late January, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Oops on publicizing the event.  The outbreak was made public on Tuesday when an internal memo was inadvertently sent to everyone at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), according to agency spokesperson Curtis Allen.  Ouch.  According to the memo, speculation as to the source of the outbreak centers around ”spicy tuna roll sushi” as being highly suspect, according to the Wall Street Journal reports.  The source of the infection is as yet unknown. Continue reading

FDA Moves To Reject Petition On Banning BPA From Food Packaging

FDA Moves To Reject Petition On Banning BPA From Food PackagingThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Friday that they would not ban the use of a controversial chemical used in food packaging.  An announcement had been expected regarding the continued use of Bisphenol A.

According to Jack Kaskey (Bloomberg), the FDA rejected a request from environmental advocates seeking the agency to prohibit the use of BPA (bisphenol A) in cans and other forms of packaging.  The FDA determined that opponents of BPA “didn’t provide enough data to support a rule change.” Continue reading

Orange Juice Saga Continues to Continue – Fed Seizes More Imports – OJ Still Safe

Orange Juice Saga Continues to Continue - Fed Seizes More Imports - OJ Still SafeA few months ago the FDA opened a keg of regulatory whoop-ass on the orange juice industry when it announced that it would halt imports of foreign OJ.  This was due to possible contamination by carbendazim, a fungicide that’s been banned for use on oranges in the U.S. since 2009 which is still in widespread use in the rest of the world.  After the initial uproar the FDA clarified it’s stance and the conditions of the testing – not considering the fungicide levels an imminent threat, rather more of a regulatory issue.  Juice from Canada was approved for entry almost immediately which begged the question who was growing oranges in Canada in winter months.  Turns out that orange juice is from oranges imported from Brazil first.  The FDA continued to test batches of juice.

A big batch of fungicide test results came in at the end of last week.  Of the 40 samples that have been tested so far, 29 came back negative for carbendazim, leaving 11 samples testing positive. Continue reading