Friday, November 16, 2007

USDA allowing Candadian meat with high risk of mad cow

Beginning Monday, November 19, the USDA will allow Canadian cattle born after 1999 to enter the U.S., where they can be slaughtered and sold to Americans for meat. Previously, USDA only allowed cattle up to 2.5 years old to enter the country. Older cattle are believed to be at higher risk for carrying mad cow disease, in fact, at least five cases of mad cow disease have been detected in Canadian cattle born after 1999 according to Dr. Michael Hansen, Senior Scientist for Food Safety for Consumers Union, nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports. He adds that "these cattle have been detected in a relatively small test program that tests only about one percent of slaughtered or dead Canadian cattle. How many more are there that are escaping detection?" If an infected animal does come across the border, it is very unlikely that the extremely small U.S. testing program, which tests just a tenth of a percent of beef that die or are slaughtered, would detect it.

In addition to going into the food supply, a cow's remains (like that of most slaughtered cattle) would be rendered and converted into pet food and feed for pigs and chickens. Because the remains of slaughtered pigs and chickens can be fed back to cattle, it is possible that the infectious agent could find its way into U.S. born cattle in the future.

"Allowing these cows to enter into the U.S. food system is a foolhardy course," Hansen said. "According to the Center for Disease Control, the prevalence of mad cow disease is 30 times higher in Canadian than in U.S. cattle. USDA's plan to reopen the border to cows born after March 1999 puts both consumers and the livestock industry at risk."

As of now, there is no labeling of country of orgin on meat so consumers would not know if they were eating beef from Canadian cows or not.


jamie said...

I don't believe for a minute that US farmers have quit feeding cattle to cattle ... which compromises the US food supply whether they import Canadian beef or not. I heard Howard Lyman speak a couple of years ago. Very eye-opening, and the segment of his documentary about the young British girl dying brought me to tears.

Cathe Olson said...

I completely agree - but even if they don't feed cattle to cattle like their supposed to, they feed cattle to pigs and chickens who in turn get fed to the cattle - not to mention restaurant waste which could have anything in it.

We such a minute amount of testing for mad cow in the US that there could be tons of cases getting by.