Sunday, November 11, 2012

Beef Tounge Recall For Mad Cow Disease Risk

Black Earth Meat Market Inc., a Black Earth, Wis. establishment, is recalling approximately 99 pounds of beef tongue products because they may not have had the tonsils completely removed, which is not compliant with regulations that require the removal of tonsils from cattle of all ages, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Saturday. 

The products subject to recall are:
  • Various size cases of Black Earth Meats Natural Beef Tongues and Black Earth Meats Local Beef Tongues produced on October 8, 11, 17 and 18, 2012.

The products bear Est. 34379 inside the USDA mark of inspection and were distributed to a restaurant in Wisconsin and a distributor in Illinois.

The problem was discovered during a routine Food Safety Assessment at the establishment. Tonsils are considered a specified risk material (SRM) and must be removed from cattle of all ages in accordance with FSIS regulations. 

SRMs are tissues that are known to contain the infective agent in cattle infected with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), also known as "Mad Cow Disease," as well as materials that are closely associated with these potentially infective tissues. Therefore, FSIS prohibits SRMs from use as human food to minimize potential human exposure to the BSE agent. There is no indication that any of the cattle slaughtered displayed any signs of BSE.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers.

Mad Cow Disease is a progressive neurological disorder of cattle that results from infection by an unusual transmissible agent called a prion.  The nature of the transmissible agent is not well understood.  Currently, the most accepted theory is that the agent is a modified form of a normal protein known as prion protein.  For reasons that are not yet understood, the normal prion protein changes into a pathogenic (harmful) form that then damages the central nervous system of cattle.

Research indicates that the first probable infections of BSE in cows occurred during the 1970's with two cases of BSE being identified in 1986.  The U.S. Center for Disease Control says that mad cow disease possibly originated as a result of feeding cattle meat-and-bone meal that contained BSE-infected products from a spontaneously occurring case of BSE or scrapie-infected sheep products.  Scrapie is a prion disease of sheep.  There is strong evidence and general agreement that the outbreak was then amplified and spread throughout the United Kingdom cattle industry by feeding rendered, prion-infected, bovine meat-and-bone meal to young calves.

The BSE epizootic in the United Kingdom peaked in January 1993 at almost 1,000 new cases per week. Over the next 17 years, the annual numbers of BSE cases has dropped sharply; 14,562 cases in 1995, 1,443 in 2000, 225 in 2005 and 11 cases in 2010. Cumulatively, through the end of 2010, more than 184,500 cases of BSE had been confirmed in the United Kingdom alone in more than 35,000 herds.

The CDC says that there exists strong epidemiologic and laboratory evidence for a causal association between a new human prion disease called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) that was first reported from the United Kingdom in 1996 and the BSE outbreak in cattle.  The interval between the most likely period for the initial extended exposure of the population to potentially BSE-contaminated food (1984-1986) and the onset of initial variant CJD cases (1994-1996) is consistent with known incubation periods for the human forms of prion disease.