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TheBeefSite Newsletter - 03 July 2013

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Wednesday 3rd July 2013.
Michael Priestley - Editor

Michael Priestley

TB Claims Get Knocked Back

Agricultural ministers in London have vehemently reacted to media claims that bovine tuberculosis can be can be passed on to humans, who consume meat and milk from cows tested positive for TB.

This comes the same week that the European Food Safety Authority published a scientific opinion stating no evidence of meat-borne transmission existed in the EU.

Government officials have also been quick to suppress damaging rumours that the purpose of the badger culls, scheduled for two heavily infected 'tb zones' in Gloucester and Somerset this summer, are to protect human health.

The reaction follows a report from the Sunday Times that said tens of thousands of the UK’s 28,000 cattle culled due to tuberculosis are sold for human consumption each year at a price worth £10 million to the UK economy.

Concern has been shown by the industry which, after dealing with the horsemeat scandal, has been quick to dismiss the potentially damaging claims as ‘irresponsible scaremongering’.

“All meat from cattle slaughtered due to bovine TB must undergo rigorous food safety checks before the meat is passed as fit for consumption,” stated Defra, the UK agriculture ministry. “As a result, the risk is extremely low, regardless of whether or how the meat is cooked.”

Defra added: “The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has confirmed there are no known cases where someone has contracted TB from eating meat.”

Levy board and red meat research organisation, EBLEX also hit back at the press.

Nick Allen, Sector Director, said that FSA guidelines are clear and are based on current science.

“If localised tuberculosis lesions are found in more than one organ or area of the carcase during the post mortem, the whole carcase and its offal and blood should be declared unfit for human consumption,” stressed Mr Allen.

“If lesions are found only in a single organ or part of the carcase, the instructions require the removal of the affected organ or part of the carcase as unfit for human consumption.”

In response to allegations that the badger cull is a scheme to protect human health Defra stated: “The purpose of the pilot badger culls is to reduce bovine TB in cattle, due to the disease’s huge impact on the farming industry, rural communities and taxpayers.

“While humans can contract TB, it is currently quite rare and those who have close contact with infected animals or who drink unpasteurised milk are most at risk.”

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This Week's Articles and Analysis

Africa Offers Opportunities for Livestock and Meat Investment
Increases in the demand for animal-sourced food are estimated extraordinarily high in Africa over the coming decades, according to a new report from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, writes Chris Harris.

Adding Value to Cull Cows
Through simple management alone you can increase cull cow values by 20-40 per cent by knowing the markets and closely observing your breeding stock.

Refreshing A.I. Basics Well Worth The Effort
Stick to protocol to ensure effective insemination and make sure equipment is working correctly, urges Ryan Sterry, University of Wisconsin Agriculture Extension Agent.

BRD Risk Categorization for Feeder Calves: Part 1
Of all cattle treated for sickness, around 50 per cent will be treated for bovine respiratory disease, says Roger Ellis, South Dakota State University Beef Specialist in the first installment of two discussion about calf health and BRD.

Pasture Can Compensate
Pushing feed into stores over winter has no benefits as liveweight gain shoots up when the summer grass arrives and cattle are turned out to pasture, say Edward O'Riordan, Mark McGee and Declan Marren of Teagasc.

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