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ID NEWS: NRA asks distributors to share BSE 'talking points' with customers

The National Restaurant Association (NRA), Washington, DC, has shared its key talking points with ID, to help distributors and DSRs discuss Canada's Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) case with customers. Thus, operators in turn can ease any patron concerns about BSE, also known as "mad cow disease." (See ID Management Report, 5/29/03, for story, also, last several days of ID web news.)

Among key points are:
1. No recall has been initiated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and none is anticipated for products imported prior to the ban;
2. Neither USDA nor the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plan to issue a notice to consumers, as they feel there is no health threat;
3. Active investigation by both Canadian and USDA officials is ongoing to determine the cause of the isolated case in Canada;
4. USDA has taken swift action to stop beef trade with Canada until further investigation;
5. The cow killed in January was not used for food production;
6. The U.S. has an "aggressive firewall system" that has prevented introduction and spread of BSE in the U.S.;
7. A multi-year BSE risk analysis conducted by Harvard University in 2001 concluded that the U.S. is "highly resistant" to any introduction of BSE or similar disease;
8. BSE is not contagious;
9. BSE is found in central nervous tissue such as the spinal cord and brain, not meat. Steaks and other whole meats are not implicated in BSE transmission.
10. Since NRA issued these talking points to ID--shortly after the Canadian import ban announced by USDA on May 20--the ongoing investigation in Canada has yielded no other instances of cows infected with BSE. A total of 192 cattle from the same herd have tested negative. To date, quarantines are in place for 13 Canadian herds.

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