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Mad Cow disease in the U.S.A.

post #1 of 37
Thread Starter 
Living in a state (Texas) where beef production is an important part of our economy, the irresponsibility of the beef industry saddens me, not only from a public health standpoint, but from an economic standpoint - the entire industry, as well as associated industries, will now suffer until this is brought under control.

This is an interesting article (especially considering recent developments) from the Organic Consumers Association dated 7/15/03.

*warning: some of the articles below contain references to meat processing procedures that some may find disturbing.

U.S. Violates World Health Organization Guidelines for Mad Cow Disease

Humans eating downer cows

Mad Cow USA: The Nightmare is Here
post #2 of 37
I saw some tape footage of a cow that had the disease, its really wierd. Im not big on beef anyways, Im more of a chicken/turkey/anything with wings
post #3 of 37
I don't eat beef, although lately I've been having a craving for a fast food cheese burger at In N Out burger. Because of this scare, I'm thinking twice, that's for sure.
post #4 of 37
I eat beef and will still eat it.
post #5 of 37
We eat beef all the time and I dont think that is going to change
post #6 of 37
Okay, I'm not familiar with the outbreak of Mad Cow in the USA yet. I know that it has occurred. That's all I can get from the media. MAd Cow is in USA and every country that imports it is cancelling contracts.

Like DUH! You don't have to be a rocket scientist to work that out.

So far, I haven't been able to read any literature as to how it happenned or why it happenned. Yes, it is easy to blame the beef producer of unsafe practices and irresponsibility. But where is the proof? And again, I'm not familiar with the beef industry in USA. I'm going to wade through newspapers and NewScientist the old fashioned way to find out more.

And if it is in the food that is fed to cattle, then really, who is it to blame? There's a rather long chain of people and corporations in the firing line. Take a look at what happenned to Britain and surrounding areas when Mad Cow was discovered and what action was taken. Where does the buck stop? Do you want individual farmers held responsible? Corporations? Politicians?
post #7 of 37
The disease only affects the central nervous system of the cow - brain and spinal cord. I don't know about you but, I don't eat those parts of the cow.

Mad cow does not infect the muscle meats: steaks, roasts ribs and the ground beef made from them i.e. round and chuck. As long as you avoid the cheap ground beef, you have nothing to worry about. Bill and I are NOT giving up our nice, thick Porterhouses and filet mignon!
post #8 of 37
I'm with you, katl8e, I don't eat those parts, either. I hate to see the cattle farmers hurt economically, but the prices have been rising ridiculously around this part of the country for years. The news this morning said prices will drop domestically until things are straightened out.
post #9 of 37
The fact that someone came up with the less than brilliant idea years ago to grind up bits of cow brain and add it to cow feed is IMO beyond belief. I just got this in my bin:

FDA may recall pet food due to mad cow

By Steve Mitchell
United Press International
Published 12/24/2003 5:05 PM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 24 (UPI) -- The Food and Drug Administration might have to recall units of pet food that contained material from the first documented case of mad cow in the United States, an agency official said Wednesday.

The USDA announced late Tuesday that a cow in Mabton, Wash., had tested positive for mad cow disease.

The FDA has "a couple of teams on the ground in Washington" attempting to trace where the material from the cow went, but so far it does not know if the tissue was processed into pet food, Dr. Lester Crawford, FDA's deputy commissioner, told United Press International.

"If we determine that some of it was headed for pet food, we would likely recall that," Crawford said. But he noted the agency would not take any action until it gets confirmation, which probably will occur on Monday.

The main threat among pets is cats because they "are susceptible to BSE," he said.

Crawford said there is no way of knowing how much pet food would have to be recalled. But he said the FDA does not consider the infectious agent, called a prion, can be diluted to safe levels, so even if a small batch of infected pet food was mixed with a ton of other food, "the ton would have to be destroyed."

The most infectious parts of the diseased cattle -- the brain and spinal cord -- most likely went to a rendering facility. Some rendering plants will process those components into pet and animal feed, but others can make a variety of things, including fertilizers and building materials, that would not pose a risk to pets.

FDA officials currently are trying to track down which rendering facility or facilities received the infected cow material. From there they should know whether it made it into pet and animal feed, Crawford said. The rendering plants are required to keep records on where the material went, he noted.

Because the animal was killed relatively recently, on Dec. 9, "it is likely that the material is still on hand and has not been put into commercial channels," Crawford said. "We hope that's the case."

Michael Hansen, of Consumers Union, the watchdog group in Yonkers, N.Y., said he thinks the FDA ultimately will wind up recalling units of contaminated pet and animal feed. He noted when a case of mad cow was detected in Canada last May, authorities there requested a voluntary recall of dog food they suspected contained infectious tissue from the cow.

"They will have to recall pet food and other feed products," Hansen said. In addition, "all those rendering plants (the infected cow material passed through) will be contaminated."


Steve Mitchell is UPI's Medical Correspondent. E-mail sciencemail@upi.com

Copyright © 2001-2003 United Press International
post #10 of 37
Tess, thanks for the links - the first article was a real eye-opener for me. Since I live in Europe, I'm very aware of BSE, and have drastically cut down on our (i.e., my husband's, our cat's and my own) beef consumption, even though the EU regulations are now stringent and all cattle over 30 months are tested. I wish all cattle, regardless of age, were tested, as in Japan. Unfortunately, I never questioned whether the U.S. beef industry was following the recommended practices. I simply assumed they wouldn't be stupid enough not to. That amounts to criminal negligence. Incidentally, although there have been no reports of dogs infected, there have been a number of cases of "FSE" (feline spongiform encephalopathy) among housecats and large cats in zoos here in Europe.
post #11 of 37
The fact that it could get into cat food is a big worry.
post #12 of 37
Yes, that is a big worry, as my cats like beef canned cat food, and I ususally buy them canned catfood made with beef. I wonder do they put beef in the dry cat food? I'm kind of freaking out about this.
post #13 of 37
As far as I am know (I am vegeterian and have been for over twenty years) the outbreak that occured here and everywhere else I guess is due to the fact that the industry feeds cows on meat protein. This means that cows that in 'real life' do not eat each other are fed sheep and cow in their food stuffs. The testing is stringent and ell overdue here but the answer is in the food given to the cattle. You do not need to eat the spinal cord as it has already been fed to the cow you are eating! Personally I dont eat anything that has a face!
post #14 of 37
The latest news is that the cow in Washington State may have come from Alberta, Canada, not that it makes any difference: two cases in North America mean BSE has arrived.
post #15 of 37
More details - I hope this won't make the USDA too complacent:
post #16 of 37
I'm not too worried about the cat food. My crew only eats turkey & giblets. Beef cat food caused Buddy's GI system to rebel.

The main recommendation, in this morning's paper, was not to eat ground beef if you don't know what part of the cow, that it was made from. Ground round, chuck or sirloin is safe.
post #17 of 37
Thread Starter 
Well, I was leaning toward organic meats anyway, simply because of the way many commercial animals are treated (many live in horrible conditions), plus I don't like the idea of all the hormones and antibiotics that are used to pump up the animals and compensate for the diseases that arise in those foul conditions.

Now, after reading that first article and learning about what the animals are fed, I'm definitely going organic. Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I find the idea of feeding cows (herbivores!) processed animal parts and chicken litter revolting, a violation of natural law.

We already only buy eggs that come from free-range hens, and they taste a lot better. I wouldn't mind paying more for meat that's raised in more natural, healthier conditions. I just hope that the organic & free-range claims are true, and not just sales gimmicks.
post #18 of 37
We've been buying "organic" meat for a number of years, and also "free-range" eggs. The meat is more expensive, but we only eat meat once or twice a week. There have been several media reports that the numbers don't add up as far as the eggs are concerned, so we only buy from a local farm where we can see how the hens live. Thus far I've been buying only cat food containing beef that is imported from North America, but I'm obviously going to have to rethink that. One brand of beef canned food I buy is from Uruguay, so I'll probably stick to that until there are reports of BSE in South America. I haven't found any cat food available here that is from Australia or New Zealand.
post #19 of 37
Canada had 1 incident of mad cow in May 2003. The USA has had a ban on our beef since then. 1 Cow. Only 1. And that cow was discovered while still alive. The US cow made it into the food system. The USA is now mad at Canada for placing a ban on their product. Maybe they should lift their ban since everything has been cleared here for 6 months. I also don't like the fact that they are blaming a Canadian cow. The testing hasn't been done yet. Plus - it was a dairy cow. What were they doing slaughtering it for meat. That is only normally done when they are too old to produce milk anymore. A dairy cow should not have been made available for human consumption.
post #20 of 37
She was butchered and sold to the meat market BECAUSE SHE STARTED SHOWING SIGNS OF ILLNESS. This is normal. How's that for sick?

They butchered her in Moses Lake, WA, which is, approximately, 20 miles from me!

I'm not a vegetarian, but I don't eat alot of meat. Since this started, I've become aware of alot of things about the meat industry as a whole. Organic meats, free roaming eggs, from now on. Did you know there was a difference between free range and free roaming chickens? (next part courtesy of my sister, the vegetarian) Free Raoming means just that, free roaming. Free range just means that the chickens have to be outside for some part of the day. Even if they're still in their cages. If I'm at all in doubt, I just look for the "cage free" label on the egg carton.

My sister has a friend who won't eat beef (ever since the mad cow outbreak in europe), or dairy because he's certain he'll get mad cow disease (stuff like this happens to him - he got scratched by a cat and got cat scratch fever). We used to laugh at him, not any more, not when it's this close.

Enough rambling....sorry
post #21 of 37
Dawn it is normal, happens all the time, they call it downer meat and the FDA just now put a ban on any cows or cattle that are sick to be slaughtered and used in human food products.
post #22 of 37
Oh, I know it's normal, just creeps me out.
post #23 of 37
There's a very informative article in the NY Times today, but it's too long to copy here. I'm not certain, but you may have to sign up as a member (for free) to read it:
The problem is, these regulations should have been put in place years ago, and still don't go far enough, e.g., the brains of cows under 30 months are still going to be okayed for human consumption, and a lot of the discarded material will still be fed to animals that end up in the food chain. As comprehensive and compulsory testing is not required in the U.S. or Canada, there is no way of knowing just how widespread BSE is. I've been through this before: BSE became a problem in Britain, and the other EU countries banned imports of British beef and insisted that they were free of BSE. Once testing of all cattle over 30 months became obligatory, we saw how prevalent it really was. A few half-baked regulations are not going to prevent the spread of mad cow disease or protect consumers sufficiently. In short: too little and too late.
post #24 of 37
It was on the news that they do use the brain and spinal cord in dry dog food. I say read the label. be weary about what you feed your dog and cats and your self....
post #25 of 37
I will try to find some articles to support this. My friend the chef has been following (for obvious reasons) Mad Cow Disease since it was announced in Europe. Mad Cow Disease has been in the US for close to a year now, virtually unannounced to the public in general. There are herds of Elk in Colorado and deer in Kansas that have the disease. I believe there were also outbreaks in the upper midwest (Wisconsin and Michigan). It is more common than what anyone realizes.

Being a chef, she has been keeping up with the story in the states. Her advice to me was don't worry about it - eat the beef as the disease in them is rare and the beef industry is monitoring it closely. She also suggests to avoid eating any game (hunted) meat from hooved animals.

As she is getting more and more into the nutrician side, she claims that you are far more likely to get the disease from vitamins containing bovine complex than from meat. Most of the bovine complex is coming from overseas and not the U.S. She did suggest that you read the labels on your vitamins carefully, and avoid any that contains that ingredient. Stay with natural vitamins.

If I can find some sites that carry this information I will post later. My friend was going to send me some of the articles from her chef magazines.
post #26 of 37
Originally posted by Momofmany
There are herds of Elk in Colorado and deer in Kansas that have the disease. I believe there were also outbreaks in the upper midwest (Wisconsin and Michigan).
It is increasing in prevalence in whitetail deer in Illinois as well. They call it chronic wasting disease, but it attacks the brain just like mad cow.

As she is getting more and more into the nutrician side, she claims that you are far more likely to get the disease from vitamins containing bovine complex than from meat.
This was reported on NPR as well. They said that these "supplements" are made from cow brains which are the most dangerous part. They also said that the "supplements" most likely to have cow brains are those men use because they think it will increase virility or muscle mass(but of course it is no more effective than ground rhinocerous horn).
post #27 of 37
Since my father is an expert in the field of animal health and nutrition and works with "exotic" breed ranches like deer, elk, bison, emu, etc. as well as the mainstays of cattle and pigs, I have to step in here and share some of what he has told me when I have asked about these diseases.

Chronic Wasting Disease is NOT the same thing as BSE (Mad Cow). It is a related illness, similar in nature but not the same thing at all. The number of cases, as usual, has been completely blown out of proportion by the media. My father hunts and that's all the meat that he has in his house - the wild game that he kills. He has never been concerned with eating it and he is much better informed about CWD and BSE than the average citizen because it affects his business. Any butcher worth his weight knows how to avoid the brain and spinal tissue on an individual animal (I know because we routinely butchered the antelope, deer and elk at home). The mass production process using machines puts the meat more at risk of being "contaminated" with brain and spinal material but the risk is still small.

I for one will not stop eating beef, just as we never stopped eating wild game when CWD came out. One cow does not contaminate the whole industry in the whole country. (Quite frankly, I am not sure why the US is still banning the import of beef from Canada based on the same principal...)
post #28 of 37
Originally posted by valanhb
Chronic Wasting Disease is NOT the same thing as BSE (Mad Cow). It is a related illness, similar in nature but not the same thing at all.
Oops! My bad! Stories in the newspaper make it sound like the same thing. Sigh.... After having been misquoted in the newspaper more times than I like to remember, you think I would be more skeptical about what I read! Sorry.
post #29 of 37
No worries, Renae. The media does such a poor job of educating the public, and sometimes I think they just find it funny to scare the hell out of the public with misinformation. They are similar diseases in that they destroy brain tissue and affect motor coordination, but obviously wild deer and elk wouldn't be consuming "protein" from other dead deer and elk, so the cause can't be traced the same way as BSE.

I made the same mistake, based on what I had read in the media. That's when I got more of an education than I asked for.
post #30 of 37
Heidi, do you have any data about CWD being transmitted to cats? I have a post under Health and Nutrition concerning feeding venison to cats, but so far nobody has answered it. Some cats fed beef from cattle with BSE have contracted FSE here in Europe, but so far I've found zilch regarding venison.
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