INTERNATIONAL: Edelman BSE Taskforce to monitor events for the US

WASHINGTON: Heightening concern about BSE in the US has led Edelman

to launch a dedicated PR unit to monitor events featuring a research

tool called the Mad Cow Monitor.



The practice, organised with agency subsidiary StrategyOne, 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 agency claimed the BSE Taskforce had already retained three clients,

and brought one existing Edelman client on board, but refused to name

them.



Although there has not been a single case of BSE recorded in any US

animal, concerns about the possibility of the disease appearing in the

country are on the rise.



Fast food giant McDonald's has proved US corporations are not immune to

BSE fears. Last month, the company reported a nine per cent drop in its

European sales, due to concerns about the disease.



'It could become an enormous issue when it hits the US,' said Dan Puzo,

senior vice-president in Edelman's food, health and nutrition

practice.



'Most people think it is only a matter of time,' he added.



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,' such as pharmaceutical products, medical tissues and

cosmetics, he said.



StrategyOne will analyse media coverage of the issue, both nationally

and internationally, as well as track public opinion.



Puzo said he currently sees about 160 BSE stories each day, both

domestically and overseas.



Edelman's announcement over concerns that BSE could spread to the States

is announced at a time when the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in

the UK shows no signs of abating.



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