Tag Archives: Mad Cow Disease

Another Mad Cow Case found in Canada

Ooof. Canada is starting to look like it has a real problem here.

That’s the eighth case found in the Great White North.

Now let me ask rhetorical question here – What exactly is the probability that Canada has a higher rate of BSE over the United States?

Technorati Tags: BSE, Mad Cow

Kudos to the USDA

Kudos goes to those deserve it, even if I don’t happen to like the group deserving the kudos all that much.

In this case, it’s the USDA. In a rare case of common sense and health concern (even if it’s the health of cattle and not consumer), they withdrew a proposal that would have allowed the import of Canadian cattle over 30 months old. As Canada is having some difficulty with BSE of late, this decision made perfect sense.

Technorati Tags: Food Politics, Mad Cow

Wither Mad Cow and the USDA

I’m a bit late to the Mad Cow story from last week, but several folks have asked for my opinion and I thought best to share here instead of via e-mail.

First and foremost, the fact that the USDA wants to cut back on testing should surprise no one. Their job is not public safety, but rather “farm” advocacy. I use the quotes around “farm” as the reality of the farm is no longer the tractor, ducks, geese and silos, but rather the Confined Animal Feeding Operations from which we Americans get a fair amount of our beef.

It’s these owner of these CAFO’s who will benefit the most from this decision, as less testing means less of a chance of finding a cow with BSE, and all of the subsequent bad press that follows. Find a mad cow in Alabama means no longer selling beef in Japan or South Korea. A multi-billion dollar loss of revenue is never a good thing, and someone, somewhere was going to push various lobbying buttons to see how to regain some of that marketplace back. It’s about money, not about health.

But is the USDA justified in making this cost decision? I’ll repeat some of the points I’ve made in previous posts about Mad Cow.

  • Their sampling data was ridiculously low: The USDA loves to throw out numbers, but never a benchmark to which one should compare the number. They love to say that they’ve tested 759,000 cattle over the past 18 months. The number they don’t tell you is 154,000,000 – which is roughly the cow population (including those slaughtered) during the same time period.

    If you divide the amount tested into the population, you get a statistical sampling of .5% of the cattle population was tested. Is this a large enough sample? I don’t know. But I promise you that the USDA and the cattle industry would prefer if people didn’t know this fact.

  • Their testing methodology was suspect: They only tested cows that showed possible symptoms. Downer cows and cows that were agressive or agitated were tested. But BSE doesn’t make every cow show outward signs of the disease. Cattle can have the disease for months or years before showing any outward symptoms.

    Oh, and testing was voluntary and not done randomly. The Agriculture Department’s inspector general found serious flaws in the testing process

  • They’re ignoring Canada: Canada has found 7 cases of BSE. These Canadian cattle intermingle with herds from the States. Since the border opened up between the two countries, the USDA has not commented on the Canadian cases at all.
  • A new wrinkle in the feed: The USDA touts the new feed restrictions put into place around 1998 as if it’s a line in the sand. Before 1998, feed had cattle remnants within it. Afterwards, not so much.

    Because of this, the USDA and the cattle ranchers have implied that cattle born after the feed restriction were less at risk than those born prior.

    However, the most recent case of BSE from Canada was found in a cow less than five years old, who had been fed feed regulated under somewhat similar restrictions (if anything, the Canadian feed restrictions are more stringent than those here in the US). The USDA nor the cattle industry has commented on this finding either.

I could list three or four more items here, but I think you get the point.

Now it is possible that there is no or little issue with BSE in our meat supply. But there is no way we could have learned this from the USDA. There’s simply too many variables that they haven’t addressed.

Technorati Tags: Food, Mad Cow, BSE

Yet another Canadian Mad Cow found

…bringing the number to seven altogether, and 2 in the past three weeks. This cow was found in Manitoba.

For those of you wondering why I care…The cattle on the border states often go across the border to the north, and vice versa. It’s one of the reasons why the 2003 Cow found here in the state of Washington was said to originate in the Great White North.

Technorati Tags: Food, Mad Cow, BSE

Canada 6 – USA 3

That’s how many cases of BSE variants have been discovered thus far, with Canada scoring another tally today, their second this year.

My baseless prognostication: America scores another point at some point during this year.

Technorati Tags: BSE, Mad Cow, Canada, Beef

Finally! Governmental oversight of U.S. Beef for Mad Cow

…The punchline of course is that it’s Japanese oversight in their quest to protect their own citizenry.

Other conditions accepted by the United States include allowing Japanese government inspectors to join surprise inspections conducted by U.S. government officials at beef-processing facilities. Tougher inspections of imported U.S. beef parts will be carried out during quarantine at all Japanese ports of entry.

Too bad we’re not afforded the same level of diligence.

Technorati Tags: Food, BSE, Mad Cow

New Strain of Mad Cow?

According to Forbes, not only is it so, but it’s the strain that downed the two cows in Texas and Alabama:

Two cases of mad cow disease in Texas and Alabama seem to have resulted from a mysterious strain that could appear spontaneously in cattle, researchers say.

Government officials are trying to play down differences between the two U.S. cases and the mad cow epidemic that has led to the slaughter of thousands of cattle in Britain since the 1980s.

It is precisely these differences that are complicating efforts to understand the brain-wasting disorder, known medically as bovine spongiform encephalopathy…

Quick question…if this is a new strain of BSE, doesn’t that invalidate all of the tests conducted on our nation’s cattle over the past 2 1/2 years?

Just wondering.

tags technorati : food Mac Cow BSE