OAKLAND, CA, March 27, 1997 -- "Suggestions by a whistleblower-led coalition that meat and bone meal derived from hogs threatens the United States public health are without scientific basis," said Rosemary Mucklow, Executive Director of National Meat Association, an Oakland, California-based organization representing meatpackers and processors. The suggestion is based on one pathology tissue slide collected in 1979 and evaluated by laboratory experts at that time and again more recently in view of new scientific understandings about transmissible encephalopathies. Dr. William Hadlow, a retired National Institutes of Health researcher and spongiform encephalopathy expert, noted in his review of the slide that he does not think that the cells have any significance.

Consumer confidence in the meat supply is unnecessarily and unscientifically undermined when a whistleblower-advocate turns one 1979 pathological sample that showed "interesting phenomenon" into a "study" and a demand to the Secretary of Agriculture for sweeping actions.

National Meat Association encourages the Department of Agriculture to consult with experts in transmissible encephalopathies, nationally and internationally, for advice using scientific information to evaluate the risks and institute critical control points as part of HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) systems that are presently being developed under Meat Inspection Regulations. These systems cover ante mortem (before slaughter) and post mortem (after slaughter) procedures to ensure the safety of the meat supply.

It is important to note that in its ten-year testing program which focuses on livestock that evidence neurological abnormalities, no cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy have been identified in pathological tissue in on-going USDA testing of 5,427 cows. Also, according to the National Pork Producers Council, no cases of naturally occurring spongiform encephalopaties in pigs have been reported world-wide.

National Meat Association is a non-profit trade association representing meat packers and processors, as well as equipment manufacturers and suppliers who provide services to the meat industry. The association, with over 600 members throughout the United States, includes membership in Canada, Australia and Mexico.

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Jeremy Russell
National Meat Association
(510) 763-1533
[email protected]

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