There is a strong suggestion that the BJD Review currently being conducted across the country will include in its new Management Plan to be published in October a statement that a watching brief should be kept by the beef industry on the progress of research on Crohn’s Disease. This disease is a human condition in the gastrointestinal track that can lead to death. There is no medical remedy for the disease only treatment options to maintain remission and prevent relapse. You can read more at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crohn’s_disease. It is not dissimilar to Johne’s disease in cattle but despite significant research over many years no causal link has ever been found between the two diseases.
While the vets and scientists involved in the BJD Review might consider it appropriate to maintain a watching brief while stating that there is no causal link, unfortunately those involved in marketing beef products and by-products to local and overseas customers have not been involved.
We have searched out other management plans for BJD in other beef exporting countries and, as you would expect, can find no mention of Crohn’s disease. You can read the USDA voluntary management plan issued in 1 September 2010 at https://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/animal_diseases/johnes/downloads/johnes-ups.pdf.
My concern is that PERCEPTION IS EVERYTHING when convincing customers to buy Australian beef. If there is an official Australian document that mentions a human disease condition that is being watched in case a link is found, then this may be sufficient for the customer to look to other suppliers or to alternate meat products. A customer could ask why do we include it in the BJD Management Plan if we do not consider there is a problem. Why does Australia mention it and the USDA not?
While it has been important to have the State Chief Veterinary Officers and many other practising vets, cattle producers, Cattle Council Australia, Dairy Australia, etc involved in the review process, beef processing companies have generally ignored it as being beyond their area of operations. This is understandable. However we need them to now contact the person managing the process – Duncan Rowland of Animal Health Australia (firstname.lastname@example.org or 0419 891 494) to explain to him and his committee the damage he will cause to Australian Beef Exports if his review committee mentions Crohn’s disease in the new Management Plan.
Please understand this is a MARKETING issue not a scientific or veterinary issue. All we ask is that we do not shoot ourselves in the foot and give a marketing advantage to other beef producing nations and other competing meat choices.
BJD Action Coalition