Mad Cow Update
January 8th, 2004
By Ken McGrath : eCureMe Staff Writer
January 7th, 2004 : Physician Reviewed
Three weeks after meat from a slaughtered Washington state dairy cow
tested positive for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) - commonly
known as Mad Cow disease - efforts to get a handle on the situation
have yielded mixed results.
Results from DNA tests carried out by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
and Canadian authorities have confirmed that the infected cow came from an
area of Alberta, Canada where another cow with BSE was identified last
summer. Both cows most likely contracted BSE from a batch of infected
feed. According to experts, the finding is good news. Speaking on Fox News,
David Ropeick from the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis said, "
[the DNA test result] increases the likelihood that [the Washington] cow and the
Canadian cowˇ¦were fed from the same contaminated batch of feed. Which
would, if it’s true, would be good news. Because instead of two bad batches of
feed contaminating separate animals, there’d be only one."
Officials are still trying to track down over eighty head of cattle imported into
the country along with the infected heifer. The rest of the herd poses a danger
because, potentially, they could have consumed the same infected feed. Three
herds of cattle in Washington have been quarantined on that suspicion. 450
calves were slaughtered to insure offspring of the infected heifer didn’t enter
the food supply.
The USDA has issued a recall of meat product processed in the same plant,
on the same day, as the infected cow. However, shipments of beef bones
included in the recall reached at least five Vietnamese restaurants in the San
Francisco Bay area and were served to customers. Local officials insist that
even with the bones being consumed, the risk of contracting variant
Cruetzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) is less than "one in ten billion".
Though no cases of vCJD have yet been reported in the U.S., the continuing
efforts to contain the disease have done little to educate shoppers. As the root
of Mad Cow and vCJD is the protein content in the feed cattle consume, experts
advise that consumers wary of the disease ask their butchers for beef raised
on vegetarian grain or natural grasses. Steaks, and most muscle cuts of meat,
are generally agreed to be low risk. Some scientists, however, caution that
cuts that might come in contact with brain or nervous system material - such
as beef tongue and cheek - may be higher risk. Ground beef is safest when
consumers grind it themselves in a food processor. Prepackaged
ground beef can contain meat scraps from a number of animals. Some ground
beef, sausage and hot dog meat may even contain nervous system material,
depending on how it was butchered.
Consumers seeking information should go to the Department of Agriculture’s
website (www.usda.gov) or call
the department’s toll free information line at 1-800-USDACO.
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