Edelman creates new unit to monitor BSE fears in US

WASHINGTON: Heightening concern that bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, Mad Cow Disease) is about to become a major issue in the US has led Edelman, together with its subsidiary StrategyOne, to launch a new practice featuring a research tool called the Mad Cow Monitor.

WASHINGTON: Heightening concern that bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, Mad Cow Disease) is about to become a major issue in the US has led Edelman, together with its subsidiary StrategyOne, to launch a new practice featuring a research tool called the Mad Cow Monitor.

WASHINGTON: Heightening concern that bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, Mad Cow Disease) is about to become a major issue in the US has led Edelman, together with its subsidiary StrategyOne, to launch a new practice featuring a research tool called the Mad Cow Monitor.

The practice will be known as the BSE Taskforce and includes staff from Edelman's health, government affairs and bioscience units. It is designed to provide clients with research and strategic support on BSE-related issues.

The BSE Taskforce has already retained three new clients on the strength of its concept, and has brought one existing Edelman client on board.

The agency declined to name the clients involved.

Although there never has been a single case of BSE recorded in any animal or human in the US, concerns about the possibility of the disease appearing in this country seem to be on the rise.

Fast food giant McDonald's has proved US corporations are not immune to BSE fears. Last month, the company reported a 9% drop in its European sales, due to concerns about the disease.

It is not yet clear how McDonald's will work to prevent the perception problems from spreading to its US operations. PR industry sources speculate that the fast-food giant is preparing a major push to prevent the issue from affecting its core US business.

Newsweek last week reported that the crisis that has gripped the UK beef industry during the past 15 years could have spread beyond its borders.

'It could become an enormous issue when it hits the US,' said Dan Puzo, SVP in Edelman's food, health and nutrition practice. 'Most people think it is only a matter of time rather than the 'it could never happen here' scenario.'

Puzo said the common perception is that BSE is only a beef-related issue.

'In fact it has spread beyond that to other kinds of bovine derivatives,' he said. These include pharmaceutical products, medical tissues and cosmetics.

'It cuts an extraordinary path,' he said. 'This is why different companies have to be concerned if (BSE) appears in the US.'

StrategyOne will analyze media coverage of the issue, both nationally and internationally, as well as track public opinion. According to early data, the issue is gaining attention.

Puzo said he currently sees about 160 BSE stories each day, both domestically and overseas.





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