March 2008 Mad Cow News
Bar all downed cattle from the nation's food supply
Michael Greger, director of public health and animal agriculture for The Humane Society of the United States, writes in this opinion piece that in 2000, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it would exclude meat from cattle too sick or crippled even to stand or walk - called "downers" by the industry - from the National School Lunch Program. Was meat from downers too risky to feed to our kids at school, but safe enough to feed them once they got home?
It took a crisis, the first domestic case of mad cow disease in 2003, to finally get the USDA to ban downed cattle from the food supply.
"Effectively immediately," then-Agriculture Secretary Veneman emphatically announced a week after the case broke, "USDA will ban all downer cattle from the human food chain."
In 2006, however, the USDA's Office of Inspector General released a report criticizing USDA for violating its own downer ban. The OIG sampled 12 slaughter plants and found two that were slaughtering downed cattle for human consumption. If this were a representative sample, it would suggest that more than 100 slaughter plants across the country may be processing downers for food. San Bernardino County Sun Link
Downer' cows entered food supply, company admits
In his first public testimony since his company's product became the subject of the largest meat recall in U.S. history, the president of Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. acknowledged Wednesday that at least two "downer" cows depicted in hidden-camera videos appeared to have entered the U.S. food supply. CNN Link