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Corvallis, OR, United States
My personal obsession with prion diseases with smidges of music I like and rescue dog advocacy from a disabled Oregonian.


Song in my head: That's why I'm riding on the Cherry Beach Express...The Pukka Orchestra


It has been a couple of days since I reported about a "sick" cow in Texas that was not tested for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). On May 4 the Food and Drug Administration sent out this press release:

On Friday, April 30 th , the Food and Drug Administration learned that a cow with central nervous system symptoms had been killed and shipped to a processor for rendering into animal protein for use in animal feed.

FDA, which is responsible for the safety of animal feed, immediately began an investigation. On Friday and throughout the weekend, FDA investigators inspected the slaughterhouse, the rendering facility, the farm where the animal came from, and the processor that initially received the cow from the slaughterhouse.

FDA's investigation showed that the animal in question had already been rendered into "meat and bone meal" (a type of protein animal feed). Over the weekend FDA was able to track down all the implicated material. That material is being held by the firm, which is cooperating fully with FDA.

Cattle with central nervous system symptoms are of particular interest because cattle with bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE, also known as "mad cow disease," can exhibit such symptoms. In this case, there is no way now to test for BSE. But even if the cow had BSE, FDA's animal feed rule would prohibit the feeding of its rendered protein to other ruminant animals (e.g., cows, goats, sheep, bison).

FDA is sending a letter to the firm summarizing its findings and informing the firm that FDA will not object to use of this material in swine feed only. If it is not used in swine feed, this material will be destroyed. Pigs have been shown not to be susceptible to BSE. If the firm agrees to use the material for swine feed only, FDA will track the material all the way through the supply chain from the processor to the farm to ensure that the feed is properly monitored and used only as feed for pigs.

And I'm not the only one curious as to why this animal wasn't tested. From the NYT:

Calls for federal inquiry over untested cow

U.S. consumer groups were cited as calling for a Congressional investigation yesterday into the death of a cow with symptoms of brain damage at a Texas slaughterhouse last week.
The story says that the cow, which staggered and collapsed after passing an initial visual inspection at Lone Star Beef in San Angelo, Tex., was condemned as unfit for human consumption and under federal regulations should have been tested for mad cow disease.
Instead, it was sent to a rendering plant to be made into animal food and byproducts.

The LA Times gives support to beef consumers.....

Let beef consumers decide

The conventional angle on mad cow disease in the United States is, according to this editorial, that the story began Dec. 23, when the degenerative, neurological disorder was discovered in a single cow in Washington state, then began wrapping up a few weeks later when it was determined that the cow had been born in Canada and that it had probably acquired the disease by eating something banned in the U.S. — cattle feed containing meat from cattle and other ruminants. That, at least, is the story the livestock industry likes.


The blanket testing for mad cow disease that Creekstone proposes, and many other nations have implemented, can be debated on the basis of risk and probability. But, as with costly organic food or milk from cows not fed growth hormones, the decision should be the consumers.

And consumers received further food safety protection by extending the ban of Canadian beef.
From FSNet listserv, by subscription:

Major victory for food safety as USDA agrees to continue ban on most Canadian beef products USDA agrees to extend judge's order maintaining ban on most Canadian beef due to risk of mad cow disease

and the USDA hasn't been sticking to its own rules...

Under pressure from Canada and large multi-national meat packing corporations, USDA had sought to circumvent its own rulemaking by quietly allowing shipments of Canadian beef that are at higher risk of carrying Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease, than boneless cuts of beef. Instead, USDA agreed to extend a restraining order that had been granted in a suit filed by Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA).

The USDA is only providing a minimal amount of safety to our food supply.

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