USFK takes steps against mad cow disease
December 28, 2003
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — U.S. Forces Korea medical officials say a confirmed case of mad cow disease in exported U.S. beef poses a “negligible risk, if any at all” to personnel here.
But as a precaution, commissaries and base eateries will not use any beef processed at the Moses Lake, Wash., facility where a cow infected with the disease was discovered earlier this week.
“As a precautionary step, pending the outcome of ongoing investigations in the United States, the USFK Surgeon has directed the Theater Veterinary Command to identify and place on ‘medical hold’ all imported beef from the identified plant until further information is available,” 18th Medical Command officials said in a Friday news release.
“This action will prompt all USFK Commissaries & Restaurants to trace and identify beef from this particular plant; and prevent them from preparing, serving or selling this source of beef until more information is available to conclude otherwise.”
The measures have already begun, said Capt. Sereka Barlow, an 18th Medical Command spokeswoman.
“The USFK Surgeon, in collaboration with the USFK medical community to include the Theater Veterinary Command and the Theater Preventive Medicine Directorate, has concluded that there is negligible risk, if any at all, to USFK personnel utilizing commissaries, food outlets and restaurants on USFK installations and throughout the Republic of Korea,” an 18th Medcom statement read.
Lt. Col. Bob Walters, head of the Theater Veterinary Command, said his teams will inspect all incoming food shipments to ensure that none of the supply comes from the Washington facility.
Five of his six squads have already completed preliminary inspections and found that no meat from that facility was shipped to U.S. Forces Korea, he said.
“This is a very preventive thing. We are going through extra steps to make sure everything is doubly verified,” Walters said Friday.
If any products from the facility are discovered, they will be destroyed after being placed on medical hold, Walters said.
Mad cow, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, is a brain-wasting disease that is believed to be transmitted from animal to animal through feed that contains cow brains or spinal cords. A form of the disease can be transmitted to humans who consume contaminated beef, scientists say.
The disease was found in a Holstein cow slaughtered Dec. 9 in Washington state, officials said. After the discovery was announced, several nations — including South Korea — banned the import of American beef products.
Some dozen other nations have followed suit, the Department of Agriculture said.