Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE, or "Mad Cow Disease") in North America: A Chronology of Selected Events
Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE, or
“Mad Cow Disease”) in North America:
A Chronology of Selected Events
Updated July 27, 2006
Geoffrey S. Becker
Specialist in Agricultural Policy
Resources, Science, and Industry Division
Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE, or
“Mad Cow Disease”) in North America:
A Chronology of Selected Events
This report provides a chronology of selected events leading up to and following
the discoveries of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or “mad cow disease”)
in North America. These are primarily regulatory, legal, and congressional
developments that are frequently referenced in the ongoing policy debate. The
chronology generally does not contain entries for the introduction of the many BSE-
related bills introduced into this or previous Congresses, except for those in recent
years where committee or floor action has occurred. This report, which will be
updated if significant developments ensue, is intended to be used alongside other
CRS reports that provide more background and context for the BSE policy debate,
and that cover many specific legislative proposals.
The chronology begins in 1986, when BSE was first identified by a British
laboratory. As the United Kingdom and others attempted to understand and contain
BSE, the U.S. and Canadian governments were establishing panels to study the
disease and began instituting a series of safeguards aimed at keeping it out of North
America or stopping any spread if it should occur here. The chronology proceeds
into May 2003, when Canada reported the first native case in North America;
December 2003, when the United States reported finding a case in a U.S. herd; and
most of 2004, when both countries worked to reassure consumers of the safety of
North American cattle and beef and to reopen foreign markets blocking these exports.
U.S. and Canadian officials since 2003 also have been strengthening various
regulatory safeguards aimed at protecting the cattle herd and the food supply from
The chronology continues with major events of 2004, 2005, and the first half of
2006, which have revolved around efforts to re-establish more open cattle and beef
trade within North America, even while a handful of new cases of BSE have emerged
here, and the steps being taken to regain the Japanese and Korean markets, which
were until December 2003 two of the four leading foreign buyers of U.S. beef. Both
were closed as of mid-2006 (although Japan appeared on the verge of reopening as
of this writing). Congress can be expected to continue to play a role, holding
oversight hearings, providing funding for BSE-related activities, and possibly
considering legislative options to address one or more of the outstanding issues.
In troduction ......................................................1
Key to Acronyms..............................................2
Early BSE Developments (1986-2002).................................3
Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE,
or “Mad Cow Disease”) in North America:
A Chronology of Selected Events
This report provides a chronology of selected events leading up to and following
the discoveries of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or “mad cow disease”)
in North America. As of this writing, 10 native cases have been confirmed on this
continent, seven in Canada and three in the United States.1 BSE is a degenerative
disease that is fatal to cattle, affecting their nervous system, and it has been linked to
a rare but fatal human form of the disease which has occurred primarily in the United
Kingdom, where most BSE cases also have been reported.
The following chronology is not intended to be comprehensive. It is intended
to be a timeline for selected regulatory, legal, and congressional developments that
are frequently referenced in the ongoing policy debate. It does not contain entries for
the introduction of the many BSE-related bills introduced into this or previous
Congresses, except for those in recent years where committee or floor action has
occurred or where markedly widespread attention has been focused. Nor does it
cover a number of policy developments that are not directly BSE-related, but that
nonetheless have arisen within the context of BSE debate, such as a universal animal
identification (ID) program and country of original labeling (COOL) for meats and
Other CRS reports may provide more background and context for this policy
debate. These include:
!CRS Report RS22345, BSE (“Mad Cow Disease”): A Brief
Overview, by Geoffrey S. Becker;
!CRS Report RL32414, The Private Testing of Mad Cow Disease:
Legal Issues, by Stephen R. Viña;
!CRS Report RS21709, Mad Cow Disease and U.S. Beef Trade, by
Charles E. Hanrahan and Geoffrey S. Becker; and
!CRS Report RL32199, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE or
“Mad Cow Disease”): Current and Proposed Safeguards, by
Geoffrey S. Becker and Sarah A. Lister.
Unless noted, the sources for the entries in this chronology are the above reports,
as well as various U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug
1 Canada also reported a BSE case in 1993 involving an animal imported in 1987 from Great
Administration (FDA) press releases, fact sheets, and other publicly available
materials, reports of hearings before the House and Senate Agriculture Committees,
and for some entries, articles that appeared in leading food and agriculture trade
periodicals including Food Chemical News, Feedstuffs, and Cattle Buyers Weekly.
Key to Acronyms
For an explanation of these and related BSE terms in this report, see the reports
listed on the previous page, and also CRS Report 97-905, Agriculture: A Glossary
of Terms, Programs, and Laws, 2005 Edition, by Jasper Womach, coordinator.
AMRAdvanced meat recovery
AMSUSDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service
APHISUSDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
BSEBovine spongiform encephalopathy (“mad cow disease”)
CCCUSDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation
CFIACanadian Food Inspection Agency
DHHSU.S. Department of Health and Human Services
FDAU.S. Food and Drug Administration
FSISUSDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service
GAOU.S. Government Accountability Office
MBMMeat and bone meal
SRMSpecified risk material
TSETransmissible spongiform encephalopathy
USDAU.S. Department of Agriculture
vCJDVariant Creutzfeld-Jakob disease
Early BSE Developments (1986-2002)
When BSE was first identified in 1986 in a British laboratory, relatively little
was known about its character, its cause, or how to contain it. The United Kingdom
(UK) has so far been the hardest-hit region, where reported cases affecting cattle
continued to climb through the late 1980s and early 1990s to a peak of more than
37,000 in 1992. Cases have been declining each year since then. Several other
countries, primarily in other parts of Europe, also reported hundreds of additional
cases, according to the world animal health organization (OIE, its French acronym).
As the UK and other countries were coping with BSE, the U.S. and Canadian
governments were establishing panels to study the disease and instituting a series of
safeguards aimed at keeping it out of North America or stopping any spread if it
should occur here. Prior to 2003, the only known case of BSE in North America was
in Canada, where a non-native case was discovered in late 1993. This animal is
believed to have been born in and imported from Great Britain in 1987.
November 1986BSE is first identified by a British laboratory. BSE becomes
a reportable disease in the United States.
1987A BSE-infected cow is believed to have been imported
into Canada from Great Britain.
December 15, 1987Initial British epidemiological studies conclude that feeding
of ruminant-derived meat and bone meal (MBM) is the “only
viable hypothesis” for the cause of BSE.
1988USDA establishes a BSE committee to review current
science and recommend appropriate regulatory controls.
July 7, 1988The British Government announces that all cattle at risk of
BSE will be destroyed — a number eventually reaching 3.7
million. Approximately 183,000 of these are confirmed as
BSE-positive. Worldwide, about 4,000 additional BSE cases
have since been diagnosed, mostly in Europe.
July 1989USDA bans importation of live ruminants (cattle, sheep,
goats, etc.) from the UK and other countries affected with
July 18, 1989A UK ban on feeding meat and bone meal (MBM) to
ruminants comes into force.
November 1989USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
(APHIS) implements an emergency ban on the importation
of high-risk products including MBM from countries with
confirmed BSE cases.
November 13, 1989England and Wales ban human consumption of certain
bovine parts including brain, spinal cord, thymus, spleen,
1990APHIS develops a BSE response plan intended to spell out
step-by-step actions in case BSE is detected in the United
States. FDA establishes a BSE task force.
May 1990USDA initiates a surveillance program to examine brains of
U.S. cattle for BSE.
1991USDA conducts a BSE risk analysis, finding that conditions
in the United States and UK differ regarding sheep rendered.
(The disease may have jumped to cattle consuming sheep
tissue containing Scrapie, another transmissible spongiform
encephalopathy, or TSE.) This risk analysis would be
updated several times in subsequent years.
December 6, 1991USDA restricts the importation of ruminant meat and edible
products and bans most byproducts of ruminant origin from
countries known to have BSE; previously such products had
been prohibited by not issuing import permits (see
April 30, 1993Surveillance is expanded to include random examination of
brains from nonambulatory (“downer”) cattle. (The target
population already had included field cases of cattle
exhibiting signs of neurologic disease, cattle condemned at
slaughter for neurologic reasons, rabies-negative cattle
submitted to public health laboratories, and neurologic cases
submitted to veterinary diagnostic laboratories and teaching
December 1993Canada reports its first BSE case; animal was not born in
Canada but rather imported in 1987 from Great Britain.
August 29, 1994FDA advises manufacturers of vaccines and other biologics
not to use materials derived from cattle that were born,
raised, or slaughtered in countries where BSE is known to
March 1996British authorities first announce a suspected causal link
between BSE and a new form of a rare, fatal human illness,
variant Creutzfeld-Jakob disease (vCJD), via consumption
of beef from affected animals. Eventually about 150 vCJD
cases occur, most of them in Great Britain.
March 29, 1996The British Government imposes a total ban on the feeding
of any mammalian meat and bone meal to any farm animals.
March 1997A Black Angus cow, which later becomes the first native
North American animal to test positive for BSE, is born on
a Saskatchewan farm.
April 9, 1997A Holstein cow is born on a farm in Calmar, Alberta,
Canada. Om December 2003, it would test positive for BSE
in Washington State, becoming the first U.S. case.
June 5, 1997FDA publishes a final rule, effective August 7, to prohibit
the feeding of most mammalian proteins to ruminants.
Exempted from the ban are certain bovine by-products, such
as blood, milk, gelatin and restaurant plate waste, on the
premise that the exempted materials pose a minimal risk of
August 4, 1997Canada institutes its own mammalian-to-ruminant feed ban
(with the exception of pure porcine and equine meal; and
milk, blood, gelatin and rendered animal fat from all
August 7, 1997The U.S. FDA feed rule takes effect (see June 5, 1997).
December 12, 1997 USDA extends the ban on importation of live ruminants and
most ruminant products to cover all countries in Europe.
April 24, 1998USDA enters into a cooperative agreement with the Harvard
University Center for Risk Analysis to evaluate the risk of
BSE and U.S. prevention methods.
December 7, 2000USDA begins to prohibit all imports of rendered animal
protein products from Europe regardless of species, applying
to all products originating, rendered, processed, or otherwise
associated with European products.
September 2001The Holstein cow born in Alberta in March 1997 that would
test positive for BSE in December 2003 is moved to the
United States along with 80 other cattle from the same dairy.
September 10, 2001Japan reports a case of BSE, the first in Asia. (By May
September 18, 2001Japan first bans the use of all ruminant MBM in cattle feed.
September 30, 2001Total U.S. cattle tested for BSE in FY2001 is 5,272, all
October 4, 2001Japan bans the use of animal protein products to be used in
feed products, including swine and poultry feed, as well as
October 18, 2001Japan begins to test all cattle slaughtered for food for BSE.
November 30, 2001USDA releases the Harvard risk analysis, a mathematical
model which indicates that the risk of BSE in the U.S. is
extremely low, that U.S. early protection measures have been
largely responsible for keeping it low, and that such
measures would minimize BSE’s spread if it did gain entry.
January 17, 2002USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)
publishes in the Federal Register a Current Thinking Paper,
requesting comment on possible new regulatory and policy
actions such as whether to: designate such tissue as the
brains and spinal cords of cattle 24 months and older as
higher-risk material (SRMs) and thus ban them from human
food; prohibit the use of vertebral column from
nonambulatory cattle and from those 24 months and older in
mechanical meat recovery systems, among other possible
regulation of such higher-risk tissues; and increase
enforcement and/or regulation of those who handle dead,
dying, disabled, or diseased livestock or their parts that die
other than by slaughter.
January 25, 2002The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) issues
a report (GAO-02-183) criticizing the effectiveness of
FDA’s feed rules and enforcement.
August 23, 2002A Black Angus cow born in Saskatchewan in March 1997 is
purchased with 35 other cows and calves by a cattle producer
in Wanham, Alberta. (It would test positive for BSE in May
September 30, 2002Total U.S. cattle tested for BSE in FY2002 is 19,990, all
November 6, 2002FDA publishes an advance notice of proposed rulemaking,
stating that it is considering revising its feed regulation and
seeking comments on five relevant topics: excluding from
feed the brain and spinal cord from rendered animal
products; using poultry litter in cattle feed; using pet food in
ruminant feed; preventing cross-contamination; and
eliminating the exemption for plate waste as a feed
December 2, 2002FSIS issues a directive instructing inspectors at beef
establishments using vertebral columns as source materials
in advanced meat recovery (AMR) systems to take routine
regulatory samples to verify that spinal cord is not present in
AMR product. If spinal cord tissue is present, then the
product does not meet FSIS labeling and inspection
requirements for meat.
The first native-born case of BSE in North America was confirmed in a cow in
Alberta, Canada, in May 2003. The United States almost immediately halted the
importation of virtually all ruminants and ruminant products, including live cattle and
beef, from Canada. (An interim final rule was published in the May 29 Federal
Register, retroactive to May 20.) In August, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture
announced that the U.S. border would reopen to boneless beef from cattle under 30
months old and other items considered to be of low risk for BSE. Rather than issuing
a proposed or interim rule, USDA claimed authority to proceed under a standing
veterinary import permitting process.
In November, USDA proposed for comment a more extensive rule change that
essentially would formalize and expand imports from Canada, to include among
other things live cattle under 30 months old. Shortly thereafter, testing of a cow in
Mabton, Washington, indicated the presence of the BSE agent. Confirmatory testing
affirmed BSE, and the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture reported the findings on
December 23. This became the first reported U.S. case, although investigators
quickly determined that the animal was not native but rather was born in and
imported from Canada.
USDA, cattlemen, and meat industry officials scrambled to reassure U.S. and
foreign consumers that U.S. beef was safe and, as the year closed, the Secretary of
Agriculture announced that she would take a number of major steps to strengthen
existing U.S. BSE safeguards. Although domestic demand remained firm, most
foreign countries closed their borders to U.S. beef and live ruminants including
January 2003A federal interagency working group led by USDA, in
response to a legislative mandate (in P.L. 107-9) provides
information on the economic impacts and public health risks
if BSE or related diseases (and an unrelated disease, Foot
and Mouth Disease) were introduced into the United States,
and information on federal prevention efforts and sufficiency
of current legislative authority. The working group
recommends a number of policy changes such as
strengthening FDA authority to enforce its animal feed
regulation and to control entry of imports that may risk
bringing TSEs into the United States; an extended
commitment of budgetary resources; and better interagency
coordination, among other things.
January 21, 2003In an advance notice of proposed rulemaking, APHIS solicits
public comment to develop approaches to control the risk
that dead stock and nonambulatory animals could serve as
potential pathways for the spread of BSE, if that disease
should ever be introduced into the United States. Comments
were taken until March 24, 2003.
January 31, 2003The Black Angus beef cow born in Saskatchewan in 1997,
and now in Wanham, Alberta, shows signs of illness and is
presented for slaughter. A government inspector declares it
unfit for human food. Its head is frozen at a provincial
laboratory for later routine testing, and its remains go for
rendering into feed. It would later test positive for BSE.
February 20, 2003The FY2003 omnibus appropriations act (P.L. 108-7) is
signed into law, containing funding for USDA that includes
$8 million for increased BSE surveillance and laboratory
activities; FDA is reported to receive a total of $19 million
for the fiscal year.
March 3, 2003FSIS releases the results of the AMR survey it conducted in
2002; they show that approximately 35% of final product
samples had “unacceptable” central nervous system tissue
detected. It also announces the start of the regulatory
sampling program (issued as a directive in December 2002)
to ensure beef products derived from AMR systems are
May 20, 2003BSE is confirmed in the Canadian Black Angus cow,
becoming the first native case reported in North America.
May 29, 2003APHIS publishes an interim rule (retroactive to May 20,
prohibiting or restricting the importation of meat, meat
products, and other products/byproducts of ruminants from
Canada. Officials subsequently ask Harvard to reassess its
BSE risk model.
June 26, 2003Canada releases the report of an international review team
(IRT) of BSE experts, which concludes that the most likely
source of BSE would have been consumption of feed
containing MBM of ruminant origin contaminated with the
BSE prion before the US and Canada implemented a feed
ban in August 1997. The original source of the BSE prion in
MBM is likely to have been from a limited number of cattle
imported directly into either Canada or the US from the UK
in the 1980s, and it is likely that some of these animals were
slaughtered or died and entered the animal feed system prior
to a [Canadian] ban on further importations from the UK in
1990, the IRT reported. The team recommends a number of
actions, including an immediate ban on SRMs (e.g., brain
and spinal cord) believed to constitute a greater risk of
disease, a review of animal feed regulations, strengthened
tracking and tracing systems, and improved testing.
July 18, 2003Canada announces a requirement that, effective August 23,
2003, SRMs must be removed from cattle destined for
human food. SRMs are defined as including the skulls,
brains, eyes, tonsils, and spinal cords of all cattle over 30
months, and the distal ileum (part of the small intestines) of
August 8, 2003The Secretary of Agriculture announces that, after a
“thorough scientific analysis,” the Department will begin
accepting applications for import permits for certain “low
risk” ruminant derived products from Canada. USDA said
it will no longer prohibit importation of wild ruminant
products intended for personal use (immediate), and will
begin to accept applications for import permits for certain
commercial products, including:
— boneless sheep/goat meat from animals under 12
— boneless bovine meat from animals under 30
— boneless veal from calves under 36 weeks;
— fresh or frozen bovine liver;
— vaccines for veterinary medicine if for non-
— certain pet products and feed ingredients.
August 15, 2003USDA posts an amended list of allowable Canadian products
on its website as a clarification of the August 8
announcement. The list now includes “trim” from beef from
cattle under 30 months of age and veal (including carcasses)
from calves 36 weeks of age or under. Permit applications
are subsequently submitted to APHIS for processed product
made from allowable product. APHIS determines that
processed product from trim and boneless beef from cattle
under 30 months of age would be allowed, since processing
would not increase the risk associated with the products.
August 23, 2003The Canada SRM rule (see July 18, 2003) takes effect.
August 25, 2003FSIS issues a revised directive intended to strengthen
enforcement of measures to ensure that AMR systems do not
introduce spinal cord into meat products. The directive notes
that “Based on the first several months of regulatory ...
sampling, FSIS has determined that some establishments are
not adequately addressing the presence of spinal tissue in
boneless comminuted [i.e., pulverized] beef.”
August 27, 2003APHIS issues the first permit for the importation of approved
ground product from Canada. Subsequent permits allow the
entry of other processed meat from cattle under 30 months of
age, such as hot dogs, pepperoni pizza toppings, hamburger
patties, smoked briskets, dry cured beef cuts, and soups and
TV dinners containing beef.
September 4, 2003The first Canadian veal imports reportedly resume.
September 11, 2003USDA reports this as the day that the first Canadian beef
September 30, 2003Total U.S. cattle tested for BSE in FY2003 is 20,543, all
October 3, 2003APHIS expands the list of Canadian products permitted for
entry into the United States to include processed products
containing otherwise eligible beef (e.g., roast beef, ground
beef, lasagna, frozen hamburger patties).
October 22, 2003APHIS again expands the list of Canadian products
permitted for entry into the United States to include edible
beef lips, tongues, hearts, and kidneys.
October 31, 2003USDA releases the findings of a second Harvard assessment
of BSE risk since the Canada case. The report notes that a
group of cattle imported into Canada from the UK in 1993
included one that was found to have BSE, and that if other
animals in this group harbored the disease, and were
slaughtered and rendered, infectivity may have been
introduced into the Canadian and U.S. cattle feed supplies
before the 1997 feed ban was implemented in both countries.
Harvard observed that “Although the possible introduction
of BSE into the U.S. from Canada cannot be dismissed,” the
likelihood is very low, and U.S. protective measures by now
would have contained any possible spread.
USDA also announces it will publish a proposed rule (see
November 4, 2003) to amend its BSE regulations.
November 4, 2003USDA publishes a proposed rule in the Federal Register that
would amend its BSE regulations to establish a new category
of regions that recognizes those that present a minimal risk
of introducing BSE into the United States via the importation
of certain low-risk live ruminants and ruminant products.
(The rule, which is initially open for comments until January
5, 2004, will form the basis for the final rule that eventually
will be published on January 4, 2005.) The proposed rule
would add Canada to that risk category and would allow
entry of certain commodities, including:
— bovine animals for immediate or subsequent
slaughter (under 30 months);
— sheep/goats for immediate or subsequent slaughter
(under 12 months);
— cervids (deer, elk) for immediate slaughter;
— fresh (chilled or frozen) meat and whole/half
carcasses from bovines less than 30 months;
— fresh (chilled or frozen) bovine liver;
— fresh meat of sheep.
November 25, 2003APHIS decides to allow Canadian facilities that receive and
process bone-in beef from the United States, New Zealand,
and Australia to export it to the United States.
December 9, 2003The Holstein cow that was born in March 1997 in Alberta,
Canada, arrives at Verns Moses Lake Meats slaughter plant
in Washington State from a dairy in Mabton, Washington.
The cow was reportedly nonambulatory, which was believed
to be the result of complications from calving.
December 11, 2003Samples from the Washington State Holstein cow arrive at
the Ames, Iowa, laboratories. Because the animal had no
neurological signs at slaughter, it is not considered to be a
higher priority for BSE and the samples are placed in the
normal queue for testing. On the same day, products (mainly
ground beef) that later would be subject to recall are shipped
to outlets, mainly restaurants and grocery stores.
December 22, 2003Preliminary tests of the Holstein dairy cow in Washington
are positive for BSE.
December 23, 2003The Secretary of Agriculture announces a presumptive
positive case of BSE in the Holstein cow (hereafter referred
to as the “index” cow). APHIS quarantines the Mabton,
Washington, herd where the cow had been, and begins its
December 23, 2003FSIS announces a Class II recall of 10,410 pounds of meat
from the group of 20 animals slaughtered with the BSE cow
on December 9, 2003, at Verns Moses Lake Meats.
December 24, 2003 Foreign countries, including Japan, Mexico, South Korea,
and Canada, begin to ban imports of U.S. ruminants and
ruminant products, which account for 90% of U.S. beef
exports. (Canada, however, remains open to some lower-risk
December 29, 2003FSIS determines that the recalled meat products were
distributed to 42 locations from Interstate Meats and
Willamette Valley Meats, with at least 80% of the products
distributed to stores in Oregon and Washington.
December 30, 2003The Secretary of Agriculture announces additional
safeguards, primarily in slaughter plants, to bolster the U.S.
protection system against BSE and to further protect public
health. These and several other regulatory changes will be
published in the January 12, 2004, Federal Register (see
below for details). The Secretary also announces that a
verifiable system of national animal identification will be
expedited, and that BSE testing will be expanded.
December 31, 2003The Secretary of Agriculture names an international review
team of BSE experts (IRT, similar to the group that
conducted such a review in Canada) to review USDA’s BSE
investigation and make national recommendations.
USDA moved to implement the new measures it had announced at the close of
2003, while at the same time it worked to restore full cross-border trade with Canada
and Mexico. In the spring of 2004, however, a cattlemen’s group successfully sued
USDA to halt any further expansion of Canadian beef imports in a federal court.
USDA then agreed to limit such beef imports to the types it began permitting in
August 2003, until it promulgated a rule finalizing its November 4, 2003, proposal.
The enhanced BSE surveillance program began in earnest in June 2004; initial
screening tests reported three possibly positive cases during the year (which USDA
termed “inconclusives”) that later were deemed to be negative for BSE. Nonetheless,
cattle and beef markets reacted nervously to the reports; USDA was challenged
sharply on the adequacy of their design and conduct of the testing program and how
results were being reported prior to final confirmation. At FDA, where officials had
promised early in 2004 to revise their animal feed rules to tighten controls over
possible BSE contamination, deliberations over the rules continued through the end
of the year.
Some countries, notably Canada and Mexico, were again accepting some U.S.
beef in 2004, as were several smaller country markets. But Japan and South Korea,
the other top two destinations for U.S. beef, remained closed, despite what appeared
to be a hopeful joint announcement in October by the United States and Japan of a
“framework” agreement for restarting U.S. exports there.
January 5, 2004Initial closing date for public comments on the November 4,
2003, proposed rule on Canada cattle and beef imports (see
above). This comment period will later be reopened.
January 12, 2004The Secretary of Agriculture publishes a “declaration of
extraordinary emergency” in the Federal Register, which
“authorizes the Secretary to (1) hold, seize, treat, apply other
remedial actions to, destroy (including preventative
slaughter), or otherwise dispose of, any animal, article,
facility, or means of conveyance if the Secretary determines
the action is necessary to prevent the dissemination of BSE
and (2) prohibit or restrict the movement or use within the
State of Washington, or any portion of the State of
Washington, of any animal or article, means of conveyance,
or facility if the Secretary determines that the prohibition or
restriction is necessary to prevent the dissemination of BSE.”
January 12, 2004FSIS also publishes several BSE-related actions in the
Federal Register (many were announced December 30,
— An interim final rule declaring that the skull,
brain, eyes, vertebral column, spinal cord, and
certain other parts of cattle 30 months of age or
older, and the distal ileum of the small intestine of
all cattle, are considered “specified risk materials”
(SRM) and are prohibited in the human food
supply. (Tonsils from all cattle were already
— The above rule also requires that all non-
ambulatory (disabled) cattle presented for
slaughter be condemned.
— An interim final rule articulating the criteria that
the agency would use to ensure that AMR
products can be represented as “meat” products
and thus are not adulterated or misbranded (i.e., do
not contain central nervous system tissues).
— An interim final rule prohibiting the use of
penetrative captive bolt stunning devices that
deliberately inject air into the cranial cavity of
cattle (known as “air injection stunning”).
— A notice announcing that FSIS inspectors will not
mark ambulatory cattle that have been targeted for
BSE surveillance testing as “inspected and
passed” until negative test results are obtained.
January 21, 2004The House Agriculture Committee holds the first
congressional oversight hearing on the U.S. BSE crisis.
January 26, 2004The Secretary of Health and Human Services announces
coming changes in FDA feed rules (expected to be published
within two months but which had not appeared as of late
May 2005), which he says will:
— Eliminate the exemption that allows mammalian
blood and blood products to be fed to other
ruminants as a protein source;
— Ban the use in ruminant feed of “poultry
litter,”which consists of bedding, spilled feed,
feathers, and fecal matter;
— Ban the use in ruminant feed of “plate waste,”
which consists of uneaten meat and other meat
scraps that collected from restaurant operations
and rendered into meat and bone meal;
— Further minimize the possibility of cross-
contamination of ruminant and non-ruminant
animal feed by requiring equipment, facilities or
production lines to be dedicated to non-ruminant
animal feeds if they use protein that is prohibited
in ruminant feed.
January 27, 2004The Senate Agriculture Committee holds an oversight
hearing on the BSE situation.
January 29, 2004Agriculture Secretary Veneman announces that President
Bush’s FY2005 budget for USDA will include a $60 million
request, or an increase of $47 million, to fund multi-agency
efforts to enhance USDA’s BSE prevention program.
February 4, 2004USDA releases findings of the international panel of BSE
experts (the IRT). The IRT observes that although the
infected U.S. animal may be the only one from the 81-cow
herd that survived to adulthood, and its birth cohorts “do not
represent significant risk ... it is probable that other infected
animals have been imported from Canada and possibly also
from Europe. These animals have not been detected and
therefore infective material has likely been rendered, fed to
cattle, and amplified with the cattle population, so that cattle
in the USA have also been indigenously infected.” The IRT
also states that:
— Testing of all cattle for human consumption is
“unjustified,” but an intensive one-time
surveillance effort to determine the extent, if any,
of U.S. BSE, and that testing a random sample of
healthy cattle over 30 months “should be strongly
consi d ered; ”
— The U.S. epidemiological investigation and the
tracing and recall of meat and byproducts had
conformed to international standards insofar as
possible, but that implementation of an
“appropriate” national ID system is needed;
— Because downers are now being banned from the
food supply, “it is imperative” for USDA to ensure
that dead and non-ambulatory cattle are properly
sampled and disposed of;
— The United States should consider excluding all
SRMs from both human and animal foods,
including pet food, and unless “aggressive
surveillance” proves the U.S. BSE risk to be
minimal according to international standards, the
SRM definition should be expanded to include the
brain, spinal cord, skull, and vertebral column of
all cattle over 12 months, and the entire intestine
from all cattle;
— The partial ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban now in
place is “insufficient.” A complete ban on the
feeding of all mammalian and poultry byproducts
to cows and other ruminants is justified due to the
“practical difficulties of enforcement” and “... to
the issues of cross-contamination as well as the
current problems in differentiating mammalian
and avian MBM.”
February 9, 2004An “FSIS Update of Recall Activities” states that the total
amount of meat distributed that was subject to recall had
been expanded to approximately 38,000 pounds affecting
February 9, 2004APHIS also announces that the field investigation of the case
of BSE in a cow in the State of Washington is complete,
with the following results:
— The epidemiological tracing and DNA evidence
proved that the BSE positive cow slaughtered in
the State of Washington on December 9, 2003,
was born on a dairy farm in Calmar, Alberta,
Canada, on April 9, 1997.
— The epidemiological investigation to find
additional animals from the source herd led to a
total of 189 investigations, leading to complete
herd inventories of 75,000 animals on 51 premises
in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. The
inventories involved the examination of the
identification on more than 75,000 animals.
— A total of 255 “animals of interest” (those that
could have been from the source herd in Alberta)
were identified on 10 premises in Washington,
Oregon, and Idaho. All 255 were depopulated,
and BSE testing was negative for all. The
carcasses from all of the euthanized animals were
properly disposed of in landfills. These 255 are in
addition to the 449 animals slaughtered from the
bull calf operation — bringing total slaughtered
for BSE investigatory purposes to 674 cattle.
— Of the 255 animals of interest, 28 were positively
identified back to the group of 80 cattle that
entered the United States with the index cow, as
well as seven heifers out of a group of 17 heifers
which were also known to be from the source
herd. It is not believed that all of these 17 entered
the United States, but all of them would be
considered minimal risk and not significant to the
— International BSE guidelines state that animals
born on a premises within one year before or after
a BSE-affected animal should be considered of
greater risk. USDA has focused on 25 of the 81
animals also born into the birth herd of the index
animal. Based on normal culling practices of local
dairies, APHIS estimated that the Agency would
be able to locate approximately 11 of these
animals. APHIS definitively located 13 of these
animals, plus the index cow, for a total of 14.
— USDA expressed confidence that the remaining
(unlocated) animals represent very little risk.
— Over 2,000 tons of meat and bone meal being held
due to potential contamination with protein from
the positive cow is on hold and will soon be
properly disposed of in a landfill.
— All 255 adult animals depopulated were sampled
and tested for BSE. The 449 bull calves
depopulated were not sampled because they were
too young for the BSE agent to be detected.
February 23, 2004USDA releases the response of its full animal disease
advisory committee to the subcommittee’s report, among
other things commending U.S. authorities for their handling
of the case. The full committee recommends that federal
officials ask the Harvard Center to review the subcommittee
report, particularly to resolve the “major discrepancy”
between the IRT’s finding that BSE continues to circulate
here and findings in the earlier Harvard University risk
assessment that appeared to be more qualified; and that
USDA enhance surveillance and implement more quickly an
animal ID program.
February 24, 2004The Senate Appropriations Committee holds an oversight
hearing specifically on the BSE situation.
March 3, 2004The Secretary of Agriculture announces that Mexico has
agreed to begin imports of some types of U.S. beef.
March 8, 2004In light of the discovery of the first confirmed case of BSE
in the United States, APHIS reopens the comment period for
its November 2003 proposed rule (which, among other
things, proposed that Canada be identified as a “minimal
risk” region for BSE). Additional comments on the
proposed rule were due by April 7, 2004.
March 15, 2004USDA announces an expanded surveillance effort for BSE
in the United States. Under the new program, to start on
June 1, 2004, and expected to continue for 12 to 18 months,
USDA says it wants to test as many as possible of a so-called
higher-risk group of cattle (i.e., those which are
nonambulatory, dead, or exhibiting signs of a central nervous
system disorder or other BSE-associated signs). It estimates
this target population to number 446,000.
April 7, 2004FSIS publishes a notice in the Federal Register requesting
comment on its preliminary regulatory impact analysis of the
three interim final rules issued by the agency on January 12,
2004. FSIS also extends the comment period on the January
12 rules to coincide with the close of the comment period for
the impact analysis (on May 7, 2004).
April 8, 2004USDA denies the request of Creekstone Farms Premium
Beef, a smaller packing company with markets in Japan, to
test all of its cattle for BSE. USDA officials inform
Creekstone that BSE tests have only been licensed for animal
health “surveillance” purposes and “the test as proposed by
Creekstone would have implied a consumer safety aspect
that is not scientifically warranted.”
April 18, 2004A joint U.S.-Japanese press release states that the two sides
will “actively engage in consultations” and “will respectively
pursue domestic discussions and make efforts so as to reach
a final conclusion by sometime around summer on the
resumption of the importation of both American and
April 19, 2004USDA publishes on its website a memorandum and a new
list of “Low Risk Canadian Products.” The new list of
“Low Risk Canadian Products” permits “bovine meat and
meat products including boneless, bone-in, ground meat, and
further processed bovine meat products.”
April 22, 2004A cattle producers’ group (Ranchers Cattlemen Action Legal
Fund-United Stockgrowers of America, or R-CALF USA)
files a lawsuit seeking federal judicial review of USDA’s
actions on Canadian beef imports.
April 23, 2004Canada announces rule changes to permit a broader range of
meat and meat products to be imported from the United
April 26, 2004 In response to the R-CALF USA lawsuit, a U.S. District
Judge in Montana issues a temporary restraining order
blocking the expansion of importable Canadian products in
the April 19 action. The judge specifically cites USDA
statements indicating that any actions beyond those taken in
August 2003 would be done through the rulemaking process.
May 5, 2004The April 26 temporary restraining order is converted to a
stipulation that expires five days after the plaintiff (R-CALF
USA) is notified of final agency action on the November
the only bovine meats that can be imported for human
consumption are fresh or frozen bovine liver, all veal from
calves 36 weeks of age or less, and fresh or frozen boneless
meat from animals under 30 months of age, including
trim/manufacturing trim derived from skeletal muscle with
associated tissues — but not including any ground meat, trim
derived from mechanical separation processes including
AMR or from vertebral columns (this is essentially the
August 15, 2003, APHIS list). Canadian Food Inspection
Agency (CFIA) verification that these products were subject
to risk mitigation measures in Canada also is required.
May 2004Conflicting information circulates throughout the month as
to exactly what types and quantities of Canadian beef
products had been improperly allowed to enter since USDA
began to ease import restrictions. R-CALF USA asserts that
33 million pounds of processed beef, more than 3 million
pounds of bone-in beef, and 440,000 pounds of beef tongue
were imported improperly from September 2003 to April
2004. USDA’s Under Secretary for Food Safety states at a
press conference that what has come in from Canada that is
not part of what was made eligible in August 2003 totals
approximately 7.3 million pounds, and that all such products
came from animals that were younger than 30 months of age.
June 1, 2004The enhanced BSE surveillance program reportedly begins.
Early in the month, APHIS begins to post on its website
weekly reports on test results.
July 9, 2004USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services
(DHHS) announce three actions to strengthen federal
safeguards against BSE: (1) a joint FSIS, APHIS, and FDA
advance notice of proposed rulemaking that asks for public
comment on additional preventive actions being considered;
(2) an interim final FDA rule that prohibits the use of certain
cattle-derived materials in human food (including dietary
supplements) and medicines; and (3) a proposed FDA rule
on recordkeeping requirements for the interim final rule
relating to this ban. Specifically, in the advance notice, FDA
asks the public to comment on measures related to animal
feed (e.g., removing SRM from all animal feed and
prohibiting materials from non-ambulatory cattle and dead
stock from use in all animal feed); APHIS asks for
comments on the implementation of a national animal
identification system; and FSIS seeks comments on whether
a country’s BSE status should be a factor when determining
whether its meat inspection system is equivalent to U.S.
regulations. The joint ANPR and FDA rules are published
in the July 14, 2004, Federal Register.
July 14, 2004The House Committee on Agriculture and the House
Committee on Government Reform conduct a joint hearing
to review USDA’s expanded BSE cattle surveillance
program. USDA’s Inspector General testifies on a draft OIG
report which cites a number of limitations in the
department’s expanded surveillance plan. The final OIG
report, issued in late August 2004, generally paralleled the
preliminary findings. USDA defends its testing program at
and after the hearing.
August 4, 2004APHIS announces changes in how it will announce
inconclusive BSE tests, stating that it will not make such an
announcement unless two screening tests (rather than one
screening test) indicate other than a negative result for BSE.
The change is made after two announced inconclusive tests
caused market price disruptions earlier in the summer, even
though they later were found to be negative upon
September 30, 2004USDA is reported to have spent a total of $51 million for its
BSE-related activities for the fiscal year just ended, $44
million of it for surveillance and testing. FDA is reported to
have spent more than $21 million.
October 23, 2004The United States and Japan announce jointly that they have
reached agreement on a framework for resuming two-way
beef trade. The statement includes the following elements:
— Japanese beef would be permitted in the United
States following relevant U.S. rulemaking
— The United States would establish, with Japanese
concurrence, an interim marketing program [a
modified version of the Beef Export Verification
(BEV) Program established by USDA’s
Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) in 2003]
that would enable a resumption of some U.S. beef
exports to Japan, by certifying that all beef
shipments are from cattle under 21 months old.
— The United States would expand its definition of
cattle parts having a higher risk of harboring BSE.
These “specified risk materials” (SRMs) would
include — for cattle of all ages — the entire head
except tongues and cheek meat; tonsils; spinal
cords; distal ileum; and part of the vertebral
column. This is broader than the current U.S.
SRM definition, which applies mainly to cattle
over 30 months old.
— The two countries would evaluate this interim
marketing program by July 2005, based in part on
a scientific evaluation by international health
experts, and modify it if appropriate.
November 18, 2004USDA announces that a U.S.-born, nonambulatory cow is
“inconclusive” (possibly positive) for BSE in a screening
test. The carcass is destroyed to prevent its use in the food
or feed supply.
November 23, 2004USDA announces that two confirmatory tests using the IHC
method (“an internationally-recognized gold standard test for
BSE,” according to officials) both are negative for the
disease. APHIS does not conduct a confirmatory “Western
blot” test, another internationally recognized method, nor
does it send the sample to the BSE World Reference
Laboratory in Weybridge, England, for further examination.
December 8, 2004The President signs into law the FY2005 Consolidated
Appropriations Act (P.L. 108-447), which contains annual
funding for USDA, including its BSE activities. Including
funds it had transferred administratively from the
Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) earlier, USDA says
it will spend a total of $123 million on BSE-related activities
in FY2005, including $69 million for surveillance and
testing and $49 million for animal ID work. The measure
also contains nearly $30 million for FDA’s BSE activities.
December 29, 2004USDA unveils a new APHIS final rule (1) establishing a
category of regions that present a minimal risk of introducing
BSE into the United States from live ruminants and ruminant
products, including the conditions that must be met to
qualify as a minimal-risk region; and (2) accepting Canada
as the first such region. The rule is published in the January
The rule explicitly permits imports of, among other things,
live Canadian cattle and other bovines for feeding and for
December 31, 2004According to USDA, 176,468 cattle are tested for BSE in
calendar (not fiscal) 2004, all negative for the disease. (A
total of 17,152 head had been tested in FY2004 through May
31, when the special 12-18-month surveillance program was
In early 2005, as USDA was unveiling its new rule for permitting Canadian
imports, Canada was announcing two additional discoveries of BSE. This brought
to four Canada’s reported native-born cases (including the one found in the United
States). U.S. officials expressed confidence in Canadian BSE safeguards but sent a
team to confirm that feed controls there were effective.
R-CALF USA again sued USDA to halt Canadian beef and live cattle imports,
winning a temporary injunction in early March against implementation of USDA’s
January 4, 2005, final rule. However, an appeals court ruled in July to stay (reverse)
the lower court’s ban. Younger Canadian cattle soon began crossing the border for
the first time in more than two years.
As Japan was engaged in what many U.S. critics regarded as a needlessly slow
regulatory process toward lifting its ban on U.S. beef imports, USDA reported, in
June 2005, the second U.S. case of BSE, but the first to be confirmed in a native-born
cow. The Texas animal initially had been sampled for BSE in November 2004.
Screening tests at that time came back inconclusive (i.e., possibly positive) for the
disease, but follow-up testing failed to confirm it, USDA said in announcing a
negative result. However, at OIG’s urging, department scientists re-tested samples
in June 2005, and the results were positive for BSE. In Japan, the regulatory process
along with continued consumer resistance there delayed the border opening until
December, when some U.S. beef imports began to be accepted again.
In Congress, mounting frustration led to the introduction of several measures
aimed at coercing Japan into moving more quickly to reopen its border. One such
measure passed the Senate in September as an amendment to the pending USDA
appropriation, but it was removed in conference. (The Senate had voted in early
March to block the USDA rule permitting Canadian cattle to enter, but necessary
House action did not occur.)
January 2, 2005CFIA reports that BSE has been confirmed in an Alberta
dairy cow born in October 1996, prior to the 1997 “feed ban”
on use of prohibited mammalian material. Canadian
officials say that preliminary testing first detected the
presence of the disease in December 2004. No part of the
animal entered the human food or animal feed supply, CFIA
January 4, 2005APHIS publishes the final version of its November 4, 2003,
proposed rule. In addition, because it is a “major” rule, it
cannot take effect for 60 days from publication in the
Federal Register or presentation to Congress (whichever is
later), as provided for in the Small Business Regulatory
Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996. This delay allows time
for Congress to review the rule; Congress also has the
option, for 60 legislative days, to pass a joint resolution
overturning the rule.
January 10, 2005R-CALF USA files another lawsuit in the U.S. District Court
in Montana to halt implementation of the January 4 rule,
charging among other things that the rule is based on a faulty
risk assessment not supported by scientific evidence.
January 11, 2005CFIA reports that BSE has been confirmed in an Alberta
beef cow born in March 1998, more than six months after
Canada had announced its ban on feeding ruminant material
back to ruminants. Canadian officials say they have
launched investigations to ascertain the whereabouts of any
other at-risk animals and to determine what the animal had
consumed. They speculate that the cow may have consumed
BSE-contaminated feed that had been manufactured either
before the ban, or shortly afterward, before it had been fully
January 31, 2005R-CALF requests a preliminary injunction in its lawsuit
against USDA on the January 4 final rule.
February 3, 2005The Senate Agriculture Committee holds an oversight
hearing on the Canada BSE situation, where Secretary of
Agriculture Johanns testifies that the Department intends to
implement the rule on March 7 as scheduled.
February 7, 2005The Administration releases its FY2006 budget proposal,
which includes a request for $66 million for USDA’s BSE
activities and nearly $30 million for FDA’s BSE activities.
February 14, 2005USDA’s OIG releases the results of its audit Oversight of the
Importation of Beef Products from Canada. OIG finds that
the Department’s actions were sometimes arbitrary and
undocumented, that policy decisions were poorly
communicated to the public and between APHIS and FSIS,
and that controls over the regulatory process were
inadequate. USDA generally agrees to implement
recommendations for improvement.
February 25, 2005USDA releases its positive assessment of the effectiveness
of the Canadian ban on feeding most ruminant materials
back to ruminants.
February 25, 2005GAO issues a report (GAO-05-101) concluding that FDA
had made improvements in its management of the U.S. feed
ban, but that program weaknesses continue to limit its
effectiveness, placing U.S. cattle at risk of spreading BSE.
March 1, 2005The House Agriculture Committee holds a hearing on the
Canadian beef import rule, taking testimony from Secretary
Johanns, two cattle producer groups, and two meat packers.
March 2, 2005The U.S. district court in Montana issues a preliminaryth
injunction to halt implementation of the January 4 rule and
orders attorneys for both USDA and R-CALF to develop a
proposed schedule for trial on the merits of whether a
permanent injunction should be granted.
March 3, 2005The full Senate votes, 52-46, to approve a resolution (S.
J.Res. 4) providing for the disapproval of the January 4th
USDA rule. However, House passage and the President’s
signature are required for the resolution to take effect, neither
of which is considered a strong likelihood.
March 11, 2005APHIS publishes a rule to delay until further notice the
applicability of its January 4th rule on minimal risk regions.
March 17, 2005USDA appeals the Montana U.S. district court judge’s rulingth
to block the Canadian import rule to the 9 Circuit Court of
April 29, 2005APHIS releases a summary of its epidemiological review of
Canada’s BSE cases, reporting that Canada’s
epidemiological efforts have exceeded levels recommended
by an international team of BSE experts.
May 6, 2005The Japanese Food Safety Commission (FSC) adopts a final
report recommending that cattle under 21 months of age
could be excluded from universal BSE testing, thus clearing
the way for the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and
Welfare (MHLW), and Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and
Fisheries (MAFF) to begin promulgating changes in their
domestic BSE testing rules. (A public comment period is
scheduled for May 9 to June 9, 2005.)
May 26, 2005The Japanese FSC initiates deliberations on the content of
consultations with the Japanese MHLW and MAFF on
conditions for resuming U.S. beef imports.
May 31, 2005An expert subcommittee of the Japanese FSC begins
deliberations on U.S. imports.
June 10, 2005Agriculture Secretary Johanns announces the possibility of
BSE in sample material from a U.S.-born cow that in
November 2004 had tested negative for BSE. He adds that
samples from the cow are being retested and also being sent
to the BSE World Reference Laboratory in Weybridge,
England, for further examination. The cow tested negative
for BSE last year after an initial screening had indicated an
“inconclusive” (i.e., possibly positive) result. The latest,
possibly positive, result, occurred using a different test
method (the so-called “Western blot,” which, like the IHC
method, also is OIE-recognized). The retest was conducted
by USDA scientists at the request of the Office of Inspector
General (OIG), not the Secretary.
June 24, 2005The Secretary of Agriculture announces that more testing has
confirmed the presence of BSE in a brain sample first taken
from a U.S. beef cow in November 2004. This is the first
confirmed case of BSE in a U.S.-born animal. The World
Reference Laboratory in Weybridge, England, found after a
series of tests that all except one detected BSE, including
another IHC test. USDA and Weybridge officials explain
that the positive IHC test by Weybridge used a different
procedure than the one used in November 2004 by USDA at
Ames, and that IHC methods differ and do not perform
equally. USDA also reveals that a USDA laboratory had
actually found possible BSE in the animal in 2004 when it
applied an “experimental” version of the IHC test. But
USDA asserts that the laboratory did not report this result
because the test was not a proven one.
June 29, 2005APHIS reports on its epidemiological investigation to
determine the BSE animal’s origin, movements, and herd
mates. Officials state that the cow in question was a 12-year-
old Brahma cross beef cow from a Texas farm, initially
reported to be nonambulatory. The animal was sampled at
a plant that renders dead, dying, diseased, or disabled
animals for non-human uses such as pet food, but this
animal’s remains never entered the food or feed chain and
July 13, 2005A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals
conducts a hearing on USDA’s appeal of the Montana
court’s preliminary injunction on the Canada import rule.
July 14, 2005The appeals court rules to stay (reverse) the lower court’s
ban. The Secretary says the Department is taking immediate
steps to resume the importation of Canadian cattle under 30
months of age.
July 18, 2005The first load of Canadian cattle since May 2003 reportedly
enters the United States.
July 25, 2005The appeals court issues its opinion explaining reasons for
reversing the district court’s ban on the Canada import rule.
July 27, 2005APHIS announces that a brain sample from an older cow
taken in April but not tested until more recently produced a
“non-definitive” result using the IHC test, so more testing is
underway to determine whether BSE might be present.
August 1, 2005 Japan eases its rule requiring all cattle to be tested for BSE
regardless of age; now, only cattle over 20 months of age
must be tested. However, all local governments in Japan
reportedly continue to test all cattle. (A separate rule change
actually to permit U.S. beef imports is still under
August 3, 2005APHIS reports that further tests of the suspicious cow tissue
(see July 27) are negative for BSE. Tests were conducted
both by APHIS and the international reference laboratory for
BSE at Weybridge, England.
August 18, 2005 APHIS publishes a proposed rule in the Federal Register to
permit the importation of whole cuts of boneless beef from
Japan, under specified conditions. The United States agreed
to initiate such rulemaking as part the October 2004 beef
trade framework with Japan.
August 30, 2005USDA and FDA officials release final reports on their
epidemiological investigations of the Texas BSE case (i.e.,
U.S.-born BSE cow which tested positive in June 2005),
with the following results:
— The animal was a cream-colored Brahma cross
cow approximately 12 years old.
— The animal was sold through a livestock sale in
November 2004 and transported to a packing
plant, where it was dead on arrival. It was then
shipped to a pet food plant where it was sampled
for BSE. The carcass was not used; it was
destroyed in November 2004.
— Sixty-seven herd mates were destroyed and tested
for BSE, all negative. Of 200 adult animals of
interest determined to have left the farm, APHIS
officials concluded that 143 had gone to slaughter,
two were found alive (one was determined not to
be of interest because of its age and the other
tested negative), 34 were presumed dead, one was
known dead and 20 were classified as untraceable.
— APHIS was looking for two calves born to the
index animal. Due to record keeping and
identification limitations, APHIS had to trace 213
calves. Of these 213 calves, 208 entered feeding
and slaughter channels, four were presumed to
have entered feeding and slaughter channels and
one calf was untraceable.
— FDA’s feed history investigation identified 21
feeds or feed supplements used on the farm since
1990, which were purchased from three retail feed
stores and manufactured at nine feed mills. No
feed or feed supplements used on the farm since
1997 were formulated to contain prohibited
mammalian protein. Due to this finding, FDA has
concluded that the animal was most likely infected
prior to the 1997 ruminant feed rule.
September 7, 2005USDA and FDA each publish an interim rule in the Federal
Register altering their separate rules on SRM in meat
products, foods and cosmetics. This will permit companies,
beginning October 7, 2005, to remove only the distal ileum
of all cattle and to utilize the rest of the small intestine in
food or cosmetics. Previously, they were required to remove
the entire intestine to ensure that no distal ileum (the only
part considered SRM) remained.
September 20, 2005By a vote of 72 to 26, the Senate on September 20, 2005,
approves an amendment to H.R. 2744, USDA’s FY2006
appropriation, which would bar USDA implementation of a
proposed rule enabling Japan to export beef to the United
States, unless Japan has opened its own markets for U.S.
beef and beef products. Conferees later remove this
provision from the final version (H.Rept. 109-255).
September 30, 2005USDA is reported to have spent an estimated $123 million
for its BSE-related activities in FY2005, of which $69
million was for BSE testing (and most of that for the special
surveillance program), $49 million to launch the animal ID
effort, and $3 million for research. The FDA reportedly
spends nearly $30 million on BSE in FY2005.
October 6, 2005FDA publishes its long-awaited proposed rule to tighten
animal feed controls in the Federal Register. The proposal,
open for public comment until December 20, 2005, would
ban, from all types of animal feeds (including pet food), the
following materials that would be considered SRM:
— brains and spinal cords of cattle 30 months of age
— brains and spinal cords of any cattle, regardless of
age, if they were not inspected and passed for
— the entire carcass of any cattle not so inspected
and passed if their brains and spinal cords have not
— tallow from the above SRM if it contains more
than 0.15% soluble impurities;
— mechanically separated beef derived from such
October 31, 2005A subcommittee of Japan’s Food Safety Commission
finalizes a draft report generally agreeing that U.S. beef
which meets Japanese export requirements poses little more
risk than Japanese-processed beef.
November 2, 2005The Japan FSC decides to clear the draft report for public
review and comment, for a period of approximately four
weeks. After that, the government can take final steps to
implement the U.S. beef import rule, officials there claim.
December 12, 2005Japan officially announces that U.S. (and Canadian) beef is
eligible for import, if it comes from cattle that can be
verified to be younger than 21 months of age, if all SRMs are
removed, and if it is boneless, among other requirements.
Secretary Johanns states that even with these restrictions, the
opening would account for 94% of the value of beef
imported to Japan in 2003 before the market closed.
December 12, 2005USDA-APHIS publishes a notice in the Federal Register to
permit the importation of whole cuts of boneless beef from
December 19, 2005U.S. beef reportedly begins to enter Japan and to appear in
some Japanese restaurants and stores as the week progresses.
December 29, 2005Secretary Johanns announces that Hong Kong, formerly the
fifth-largest U.S. market with $90 million in 2003 beef an
beef product purchases, has agreed to reopen its market to
some beef. He asserts that at this point worldwide, the
United States has recovered access to markets that were
valued at more than $2.8 billion, or 74% of total 2003 export
Efforts to fully restore beef and cattle trade encountered several setbacks in
2006. First, Japan in January again halted all U.S. beef imports after finding some
vertebral bones in a shipment of veal. U.S. and industry officials were forced to
redouble their efforts, and agree to additional concessions, to regain market access,
which Japan finally granted in late July. U.S. beef exports were expected to arrive
there starting in August. However, an agreement on the terms for shipping beef and
cattle to Korea continued to elude negotiators during the first half of 2006. These
efforts were exacerbated somewhat by the confirmation in March 2006 of a second
U.S.-born cow with BSE.
U.S. beef trade with Canada continued, despite that country’s finding of four
additional BSE-positive cattle. U.S. and Canadian officials stated that the new
findings were not unexpected and still within the limits permitted under the OIE
guidelines for trading with a country with some BSE. However, several of the
animals had been born after Canada’s 1997 ban on feeding mammalian protein to
ruminants, raising concerns about the effectiveness and enforcement of the ban.
Critics urged USDA to reconsider its proposed rules (now being reviewed prior to
formal publication in the Federal Register) to permit the importation of older
Canadian cattle and/or other ruminant products.
Meanwhile, USDA officials announced in July that the Department would soon
scale back its massive BSE testing program, reverting to a lower level of ongoing
surveillance, after determining that the potential level of the disease in the U.S. cattle
herd is very low.
January 6, 2006The cattle group R-CALF USA files a motion with the U.S.
District Court in Montana for a hearing and final judgment
on its lawsuit to block USDA’s January 2005 rule permitting
Canadian cattle and beef imports. (A federal appeals court
had overturned the Montana court’s temporary injunction;
see July 14, 2005.)
January 20, 2006Japan again halts all U.S. beef imports after finding vertebral
column bones (a prohibited material) in several boxes of veal
shipped by a New York processor.
January 22, 2006Canada confirms its fourth case of BSE, in an approximately
six-year-old crossbred cow born and raised in Alberta. CFIA
states that no part of the animal entered the human food or
animal feed systems. A subsequent investigation attempts to
trace two of the affected animal’s offspring and 156 cattle
born on the farm of origin within 12 months before and after
the affected animal’s birth in April 2000. Not all are found,
but those that are still alive are euthanized and test negative
for BSE. BSE-contaminated feed consumed early in the
cow’s life is considered but not confirmed to be the most
likely source. Critics express concern that the animal was
born several years after Canada’s feed ban, raising questions
about its effectiveness.
March 10, 2006A rapid screening test indicates the possibility of BSE in a
non-ambulatory cow in Alabama, which had been
euthanized, its brain sampled, and buried on the farm on
March 13, 2006APHIS announces that a follow-up test (using the so-called
Western blot method) has confirmed BSE in a non-
ambulatory cow in Alabama, the third U.S. and second U.S.-
born cow found with the disease. APHIS officials report that
dentition examination indicates the cow was likely at least 10
years old, and born prior to implementation of the 1997 feed
ban. The animal was buried on the farm and did not enter
the human or animal food chains; an investigation of its
whereabouts, herd cohorts, and offspring has been launched.
March 15, 2006APHIS also confirms a positive BSE finding in the Alabama
cow using the IHC method (both tests are now conducted
whenever a rapid screening test is determined to be
“inconclusive,” although only one of the follow-up test
methods must be positive to confirm BSE).
March 23, 2006Creekstone Farms Premium Beef of Kansas files a lawsuit
against USDA challenging its refusal to allow the company
to test all its cattle for BSE to meet demands of customers
April 6, 2006The U.S. District Court in Montana denies the request by the
cattle group R-CALF USA to permanently close the U.S.
border to Canadian cattle and other ruminants.
April 16, 2006Canada confirms its fifth case of BSE, in a six-year-old dairy
cow in British Columbia. CFIA subsequently identifies 148
animals, including the affected animal’s herdmates and
recent offspring. From this group, 22 live animals are
located, and all test negative for BSE. Not all others are
located, but 15 had been exported to the United States.
Investigators again believe contaminated feed is the cause;
they also identify a feed ingredient supplier common to this
case and Canada’s fourth BSE animal, confirmed on January
22 (see above). This potential link suggests that all of
Canada’s BSE cases fall within the same geographic cluster,
which is reflective of feed sourcing, production, and
April 28, 2006USDA releases the draft analysis of its enhanced surveillance
program, including an estimate of the prevalence of BSE in
the United States. After testing more than 690,000 higher-
risk animals (more than 1,000 cattle per day from 5,700
farms, slaughter plants, renderers, and other locations), it
determines (with 95% confidence level) that the most likely
number of BSE cases present in the United States is between
4 and 7 animals out of a herd of 42 million adult cattle, a
prevalence of less than 1 case per 1 million adult cattle.
USDA states that it is submitting its analysis to a scientific
peer review, after which it will determine what level of
ongoing surveillance is appropriate. (Enhanced testing is to
continue in the meantime.)
May 2, 2006APHIS releases the final epidemiology report on the
Alabama cow. It is determined to be a deep red, crossbred
beef cow of at least 10 years. The farm with the cow had
purchased it in December 2004 from another farm whose
owner had died and which was liquidating the 26-head herd.
However, despite a thorough investigation of these two
farms that were known to contain the index cow, and 35
other farms that might have supplied the index cow, the
investigators were unable to locate the herd of origin. The
two most recent offspring of the index cow were located; one
born in 2005 had died at a stockyard and went to a landfill;
the other born in 2006 is retained for study.
May 9, 2006Marking up the FY2007 USDA appropriation (H.R. 5384),
the House Appropriation Committee votes not to approve a
proposed amendment to permit meatpackers to test their own
cattle for BSE.
June 21, 2006U.S. officials announce they and Japan have agreed on the
final steps necessary to reopen the market, including
Japanese safety inspections in July of U.S. beef plants that
USDA has certified as eligible for Japan.
June 22, 2006The Senate Appropriations Committee reports the FY2007
USDA appropriation bill (H.R. 5384), containing a
nonbinding amendment recommending that economic
sanctions be taken if Japan does not open its market to U.S.
June 26, 2006Canada announces that, effective July 12, it is strengthening
its BSE-related cattle feed rule of 1997 by banning, from all
livestock feed, pet food and fertilizers, these SRMs: the
skull, brain, trigeminal ganglia, eyes, tonsils, spinal cord, and
dorsal root ganglia of cattle aged 30 months or older, and the
distal ileum of cattle of all ages.
June 29, 2006Canada announces that, effective immediately, all classes of
U.S. cattle, including those for breeding after 1999, are
eligible for entry under prescribed conditions; also eligible
is beef from cattle over 30 months of age under prescribed
July 4, 2006Canada confirms its sixth case of BSE, in a crossbred beef
cow of at least 15 years of age in Manitoba, and begins
investigations of the cow’s whereabouts and feed.
July 12, 2006Canada formally publishes its new feed rule (see June 26).
July 13, 2006Canada confirms its seventh BSE case, in a 50-month-old
dairy cow from Alberta, and begins investigations of the
cow’s whereabouts and feed. Agriculture Secretary Johanns
states that the animal’s age “does raise questions that must
July 20, 2006The Secretary of Agriculture announces that USDA will end
its special surveillance program, which since June 2004 has
tested a total of more than 759,000 cattle (an average of
approximately 5,000 weekly), and “transition” to the ongoing
testing of approximately 40,000 animals per year. The
Secretary states that this ongoing testing will continue to
focus on cattle populations where the disease is most likely
to be found, and will continue to far exceed the levels in OIE
guidelines. The transition will occur as soon as late August
July 27, 2006Japan announces that it will resume imports of U.S. beef
from cattle 20 months and younger, following Japanese
inspectors’ July review of U.S. facilities. The Japanese
reportedly clear 34 out of 35 U.S.-certified plants for their
market. U.S. products are expected to begin entering the
country in August.
At the time of this report, the Administration and many Members of Congress
were continuing to focus on efforts to reopen more major foreign markets to U.S.
beef, most notably Korea. They also were awaiting the restart of beef exports to
Japan, which officials in that country had promised would begin shortly after a
successful round of U.S. plant inspections in July 2006. At hearings and other
venues, U.S. policymakers and industry officials had been expressing frustration with
the pace of these market-opening efforts. Bills (such as S. 3364, S. 3538, and H.R.
5675) demanding trade sanctions against Japan have been introduced but likely will
not be acted upon if the market does reopen as anticipated. (As noted, the pending
Senate version of the FY2007 USDA appropriation, H.R. 5384, includes a
committee-approved, nonbinding amendment recommending such sanctions.)
After more than two years of intensive surveillance, with more than 764,000
tests of higher-risk cattle, only two U.S.-born BSE cases have been confirmed,
according to USDA. Yet some remain concerned about the disease and its potential
threat to public health as well as trade, particularly in the wake of several additional
findings of BSE in cattle. The age of several of the Canadian cattle — that is, they
were born after the implementation in 1997 of stronger cattle feed rules to protect
against BSE — has been cited as a worrisome development by some critics of North
American BSE safeguards.
However, Canadian, USDA, and industry officials continue to argue that the
overall North American risk profile is unchanged. They have long warned that
several additional BSE-positive cattle might be found, but should be no cause for
alarm. These officials have repeatedly attempted to reassure consumers and foreign
buyers that U.S. cattle and beef are safe and pose no risk to animal health or to
human food safety (although research into the numerous unknown aspects of the
disease and of the TSE family of diseases, and consideration of additional regulatory
Few observers had expected the trade and economic issues to be resolved
quickly. Nonetheless, frustrations continue to mount over the length of time it has
taken to regain entry into the Japanese and Korean markets. Even after U.S. beef
becomes eligible for Japanese importation, the industry faces the difficult task of both
meeting restrictive Japanese requirements, and then regaining the market share there
that other countries, notably Australia, have since captured.
Efforts to restore beef and cattle trade between the United States and Canada
have been more fruitful, although some U.S. cattlemen continue to express concerns
about the potential impacts on U.S. cattle health. Meanwhile, Congress can be
expected to play a continued role, holding oversight hearings, providing funding for
BSE-related activities, and possibly considering legislative options to address one or
more of the problems at hand.