2013 wrap up: The biggest stories of the year

‘Twas the year of acronyms on Neogen blog, from FSMA to COOL to PEDV. This year also saw new technological advances, big shakeups in the regulatory scene and fresh discoveries. Here’s a look at the most popular news items of 2013.

Food safety

hamburgerThe horse meat scandal

Early in 2013, routine testing found horse and pig DNA intermixed with beef products initially in Ireland. The findings set off a huge public outcry, caused ramped up food inspections and species identification testing and shook consumer confidence in the food supply.

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Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rules

It was big year for FSMA with six major proposed rules being released, several comment period extensions and even a lawsuit. This year was busy but next year also is shaping up to big year for the groundbreaking food safety law.

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Country-of-origin labeling (COOL)

The U.S.’s COOL law, which requires meat labels to indicate where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered – recently went into effect but not without controversy. The law is the subject of a World Trade Organization (WTO) case filed by Canada and Mexico against the U.S. and is receiving pushback at home from some industry groups.

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The battle over the feed additive ractopamine saw Russia banning imports of U.S. beef, pork and turkey meat in 2013. China also implemented new rules surrounding ractopamine.

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Animal safety

Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV)Curious Pigs

PEDV was discovered for the first time in the U.S. swine herd in May. Since then, it has spread to 20 states and has had a significant effect on the pork production. Although PEDV isn’t transmissible to humans, it can cause severe production losses.

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Jerky treats

Since 2007, FDA has been searching for the source of illness linked to jerky treats that has sickened thousands of pets. In October, the agency reached out and asked pet owners and vets for help in solving the mystery.


In May, the U.S. bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or mad cow) status was changed to “negligible” by the World Organisation for Animal Health. This is the lowest risk level a country can have for BSE. Previously, the U.S. held a “controlled” designation.

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Animal domestication research

It was a big year for finding out more information about long-time human companions, such as cats, dogs, cattle and pigs. Researchers were able to trace pig domestication to Northern Germany in about 4600 B.C., cat domestication to China to about 5,300 years ago, and tease out the genome of the Texas Longhorn in 2013. Scientists also found evidence linking modern American dog lineages to pre-Columbian breeds.




Although not as bad as 2012’s drought, which brought a spike in aflatoxin prevalence, the drought still hung on in 2013.

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From a test for a newly-discovered allele that causes extra limbs in Angus cattle to Neogen’s dairy heifer test winning accolades, it was a great year from agricultural genomics.



Designer drugs

Spice and other synthetic cannabinoids are on the rise in Europe. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.


Although a recent report indicates that synthetic marijuana use may be declining among young people, the drugs still were a huge cause for concern in 2013, most recently being linked to stroke.

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Novel management strategies

Several countries took new paths toward regulating drug use, including Uruguay, which legalized marijuana, and New Zealand, which restricts the sale of drugs that haven’t met safety requirements.

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