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Beef On Military Bases Safe
By Charlie Coon
Stars and Stripes
European Edition

January 1, 2004

Beef sold at U.S. military bases has not been subject to recall due to the recent case of mad cow disease in Washington state, according to officials whose companies sell beef on bases.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Dec. 23 ordered a recall of beef processed at a Washington slaughterhouse because a cow that passed through it was found to have mad cow disease.

Humans who eat beef containing the agent for mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, can contract a fatal illness called variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease.

None of the beef subject to the Dec. 23 recall had been sent to the commissaries, Burger Kings or Taco Bells on U.S. bases, officials with the commissary and military exchange service said.

"No beef sold in commissaries was involved in the USDA recall," said Bonnie J. Powell, a spokeswoman for the Defense Commissary Agency in Fort Lee, Va.

"[Army and Air Force Exchange Service] franchise partners have advised [us] that AAFES has not received beef from Washington state," said Judd Anstey, an AAFES spokesman in Dallas, in a written response to Stars and Stripes.

AAFES operates hundreds of Burger King, Taco Bell franchises and other food vendors on U.S. bases.

The USDA recalled about 10,000 pounds of beef, at least 80 percent of which was distributed to stores in Washington and Oregon.

Dr. Ken Peterson of the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said since the at-risk tissues of the diseased cow — the brain, spine and lower intestine — were removed before the beef was processed, the recalled beef presented "an essentially zero risk to consumers."

Powell said commissary customers can always return purchases for a full refund.

Anstey said in his response that, "AAFES continues to work with franchise partners and suppliers to ensure all beef is procured from sources other than Washington state."

Anstey said that AAFES is working with the Department of Defense to make beef purchases "based on the most current information available."

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