FSU food scientist is lead scholar in trade

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.-After mad cow disease was twice detected in North American livestock in 2003, The People's Republic of China banned imports of all U.S. meat by-products. The cost to U.S. industry: 25 percent of meat-bone-meal (MBM) exports and almost $30 million a year.

A possible key to resumption of that once-burgeoning trade: Florida State University researcher Yun-Hwa Peggy Hsieh. The FSU food science professor is recognized worldwide for her patent-pending immunochemical assays that detect banned ruminant proteins from cows, deer and sheep -- the main carriers of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), known as mad cow disease -- in animal feedstuffs. Undetected, adulterated MBM used in feed can infect livestock and eventually human consumers.

Enlisted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and National Renderers Association, Hsieh aims to help lift China's ban by convincing Chinese officials to ditch their country's inefficient so-called polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test -- it can't differentiate between banned tissue proteins and allowed proteins like milk and blood in feeds -- for her rapid and reliable one.

Hsieh's Reveal Ruminant strip test kit and MELISA-TEK TM ruminant test kit have already been widely adopted in other international markets. Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and European Commission evaluated the Reveal Ruminant test and deemed it the most sensitive and accurate technology of its kind.

Just back from China and workshops with scientists and decision-makers, Hsieh says better tests are essential tools for fair trade. Otherwise, even if China lifts current trade restrictions, U.S. exporters would still face costly delays at Chinese ports because of false-positives that stymied MBM shipments well before the 2003 ban.

"China's bureaucracy has very little to do with pure science," said Hsieh. "Changing their current policy on testing imported animal meal products requires aggressive stra

Contact: Peggy Hsieh
Florida State University

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