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Wednesday, 13 May 1942

Senator GIBSON - About 40 lb. Mr. Wardle's report continued -

The Victorian Health Act by its meat supervision regulations provides for the condemnation of the carcass in the event of the presence of cysticercus bovis being present.

Efficient meat inspection, therefore, should be a practical safeguard against cyst-infested meat reaching the public; should a very light infestation escape detection, the chances in Australia of such meat infecting a human being is remote, as light cooking destroys the larvae.

In the United States of America, cysticercosis is a minor problem by this very fact that efficient meat inspection is able to deal with it. Nor does cysticercosis appear to effect export trade providing that the exporting country has an efficient meat inspection system. As mentioned, the disease is present in the United States of America; it is also very common in African territories, many of which are building up export trade in meat with Britain. It is all a question of efficient meat inspection.

One provision is required, in my opinion, in the marketing of beef from the Board of Works farm at Werribee, namely, that the cattle be sold for direct slaughter at abattoirs employing full-time meat inspectors, who, preferably, are under veterinary control such as the meat inspectors of the Commonwealth export branch of the Department of Commerce.

The Werribee farm depastures about 3,000 head of matured cattle, and in 1938 no fewer than 300 head were condemned by the health inspectors on account, of tuberculosis, actinomycosis and malignant tumour. I have 100 head of cattle depastured on my own property, and I have had only one beast condemned in ten years, but at Werribee between 5 and 10 per cent, of the herd were condemned in one year.

Senator Spicer - They were not affected by tapeworm.

Senator GIBSON - No. I shall give to honorable senators a startling statement with regard to tapeworm in cattle. The Werribee farm authorities received £430 12s. by way of compensation. The first ban on the Werribee farm beef waB placed upon it by the late Sir Stanley Argyle. He asked the Werribee farm authorities not to sell their cattle on the market, and they agreed. When the Premier of Victoria, Mr. Dunstan, defeated Sir Stanley Argyle, the Werribee farm authorities were not prepared to obey Mr. Dunstan as they had his predecessor, with the result that Mr. Dunstan had a provision inserted in the Health Act with regard to the Werribee farm. A number of reports were obtained, and the first was from Mr. Hepburn, Sanitary Engineer of the Health Department of Victoria. He did not object to the Werribee beef being placed on the market. He stated in his report -

I have studied all available literature on sewage treatment, as to beef measles and sewage irrigation, and have found only one reference. At a small town in the southwest of the United States of America, sewage was subjected to short-period sedimentation, and then used to irrigate various crops, as at Bendigo, and is to he done at Swan Hill. No trouble occurred when the fodder crops were cut as hay and fed to stock, but when a herd of cattle was allowed to graze on the sewage irrigated crops, a high percentage developed beef measles.

The Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works, being prohibited from selling its cattle for human consumption, sold them for boiling-down purposes. Certain inspectors were authorized to examine the beasts when they were being slaughtered for those purposes. Returns as to cattle from the Werribee farm, slaughtered from the 10th January to the 8th July, 1935, showed that the number slaughtered was 3,460, of which 824 suffered from beef measles. The next report was from Dr. Robertson, Chairman of the Commission of Public Health in Victoria. He explained how the beasts were examined. He said that each carcass was cut into eighteen parts. The report of Dr. Penfold was similar to that of Mr. Wardle. Dr Penfold remarked that he did not object to the meat going on to the market provided that it was examined and well cooked. Referring to beef measles, he said -

Taenia Saginatais found inhabiting the mall intestine of man. It is approximately 20 feet long when fully grown, and consists of a email pigmented head, a narrow neck, and a long white tape-like body, comprising approximately 900 segments. The head, about 1.5 mm. in the widest diameter, is blackish and pear-shaped. On its summit, situated at the four corners of a rectangle, are four hemispherical suckers. By means of these suckers the head is attached to the intestinal wall somewhere in the upper portion of the small intestine below the duodenum. The remainder or segmented portion of the worm increases in width from the narrow neck (1.25th inch) to the middle (} inch). From the middle to the posterior end, there is a gradual reduction in width again. The posterior segments are fully mature, or ripe, and usually measure 1 inch x I inch x 1.12 inch. Approximately nine of these segments become detached daily and escape from the infested persons. To replace these nine, a similar number of segments are formed daily in the neck region of the worm. In this way, the worm is con tinually growing, yet once it has reached maturity it always remains about the same length. During the time a segment is growing and being pushed from the anterior to the posterior end of the worm, all the sex organs, both male and female, develop, perform their functions, while later some disappear. A ripe segment, ready to be detached from the one above it, consists mainly of a muscular envelope containing a uterus packed full of eggs. The average number of eggs per segment is 80,000, therefore, each worm usually liberates 720,000 eggs daily. In addition, the longevity of the worm, if not disturbed by treatment, is usually only limited by the death of its host.

Therefore, 262,000,000 eggs are laid in one year by a single worm !

In introducing a health bill in the Victorian Parliament, Mr. Bailey said -

In fairness to the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works, I should say that all the authorities point out that there is no danger to human beings provided that meat is properly cooked. The only danger is from eating raw or under-done meat. That has been proved by investigations in Scotland. Children in a certain place were being given beef juice or blood and it was found after a little while that the children developed tape worm.

Dr. Shieldsis, I think, the greatest authority in Australia on this matter. He practised his profession in Castlemaine, and was also a member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly. In the course of an excellent and scathing speech he remarked -

I have access to a world-famous text-book on meat inspection written by Professor Ostertag of Germany, who is regarded as the greatest expert on this problem, and Mr. Young, the veterinary inspector of the City of London. In two places in that book, reference is made to the fact that beef measles has been discovered on a sewage farm in Australia . . . Those references appear in the 1934 edition of that text-book, so I think it is safe to assume that the sewage farm referred to is the one located at Werribee.

What hope is there of examining the animal after death and determining whether or not it is clean? To a certain degree that can undoubtedly be done, but I hold that without an examination that is so thorough as to make the meat unfit as a marketable commodity - that is, without a considerable amount of slicing, it is impossible to be sure that the carcass is not harbouring the live cyst. . . .

The text-book to which I have referred definitely lays down that the only way to be sure that a live cyst in meat is killed is by cooking the meat to such an extent that when one cuts it there is no sign of red gravy, but what housewife cooks meat to that extent, and who among us would eat it if she did? I remind honorable members that there is such a thing as raw beef juice. When 1 was actively engaged in practice 1 frequently prescribed raw beef juice for certain ailments. The danger of live cysts existing in raw beef juice cannot be denied. I think 1 have convinced the committee that there is a definite risk of people becoming infected through beef grown on the Metropolitan farm.

Dr. Shieldsfurther stated that epileptic fits in children who had been fed on this infected beef were frequent. That, I think, is a very damning statement.

I do not propose to say anything further on the subject. I believe that when the Senate considers this matter carefully from a health point of view, it will come to the conclusion that this statutory rule should never have been issued. I hopethat the Government will at least amend the statutory rule to provide that Werribee beef may be sold in Melbourne, only if it is branded Werribee beef. Another authority who comes to my mind at the moment is the late Lr. Gilruth, who stated that cooking will not kill a tapeworm in the centre of a sausage.

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