Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Trial Counting on Invisible Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Patients

Trial Counting on Invisible Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Patients

In Japan, there has been a strong concern about safety of American beef.

On TV, on the Internet, and in the newspapers and magazines, possibility of existence of mad-cow disease in the U.S. and admissibility of import of US beef have become one of big issues in Japan.

Since bony chops were found at the Narita Airport in a beef package imported from the U.S., import of U.S. beef has been officially suspended.

The spiral code in a bone of a cow is apt to collect a special type of protein that causes bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or a serious brain damage.
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In Japan, all the cows are inspected before they are put into meat processing. But, in the U.S., such measures are reportedly considered to be unnecessary.

There is a special law in the U.S., which is called the Food-Disparagement Law. As was shown in a case concerned with a very popular American TV personality, if you say something that puts a food company into a disadvantage without concrete scientific proof, you can be sued by the food company based on this law.

Therefore, it is very difficult to express your concern that an unusual pattern of findings of the Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in the U.S., if so discovered, might suggest existence of mad cows and related BSE there.
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Sporadic CJD which has nothing to do with mad cows is said to be observed in one person among a million. So, even if you find 300 CJD patients in the U.S., they might have nothing to do with mad cows and BSE that appears with a symptom of CJD caused by prion protein in their meat.

But, if there is something controversial in those medical cases, even without concrete scientific evidences, most Japanese consumers will not buy American beef, no matter if Japanese Government allows U.S. beef companies to sell their products in the Japanese market.

It is because Japanese want higher quality of food and service in addition to sufficient respect for consumers.
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A Japanese engineer working in the U.S. wrote that he had heard of two CJD patients from his friends and clients in two years. In his small circle of human relationship, he wrote, finding two CJD patients seemed to be very grave.

If the number of his acquaintances and those covered by his acquaintances is, say, 1000. There might be 300,000 CJD patients in the U.S. (300,000,000 / 1000 = 300,000) or 600,000. Then, it might be 1000 or 2000 times larger than the rationally assumed number of onsets of CJD that are not caused by mad cow beef.
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I believe that U.S. food companies are doing their best to offer the safest foods in the world to their clients, including European Americans, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and other immigrants.

They should advertise their efforts to keep their reputation, by giving correct, relevant statistics with persuasive medical reports, for example, on CJD or BSE.
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According to USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) or the Center for Global Food Issues (, U.S. beef is extremely safe:

“Q: What are the risks to the U.S. food supply as a result of this detection?

A: USDA remains confident in the safety of the U.S. food supply. The risk to human health from BSE is extremely low. As is standard practice for downer animals identified prior to slaughter, the animal's brain, spinal cord, and other related products were removed and sent to a rendering facility. These so-called "specified risk materials" present the greatest risk of carrying the BSE agent and have not entered U.S. food supply channels. The scientific community believes that there is no evidence to demonstrate that muscle cuts or whole muscle meats that come from animals infected with BSE are at risk of harboring the causative agent of the disease.”
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According to a poll, most of Japanese consumers do not want their Government to permit the import of U.S. beef unless they get enough confidence.

Again, CJD in the U.S. might have nothing to do with BSE. But, there is a report that is very significant as above stated. And, it leads to simple calculation and inference.
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So far as now, among 4.5 million cows in Japan (against 95 million cows in the U.S.), 25 mad cows have been identified. But, as all the cows are inspected in Japan before they are put into meat processing, consumers are enjoying beef.

As for me, rice and fish, a traditional Japanese menu, looks more blessed.