USDA Doesn’t Want Farm To Test All Cows For Mad Cow Disease

For all you home cookers of pet food: In an odd development, a farm is fighting the Bush administration for the rights to test all its cows against the mad cow disease. The USDA argues that a false positive will harm the US beef industry. Creekstone Farms Premium Beef wants to test all of its cows.

The Bush administration said Tuesday it will fight to keep meatpackers from testing all their animals for mad cow disease.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture tests fewer than 1 percent of slaughtered cows for the disease, which can be fatal to humans who eat tainted beef…

Larger meat companies feared that move because, if Creekstone should test its meat and advertised it as safe, they might have to perform the expensive tests on their larger herds as well.

55 Responses to “USDA Doesn’t Want Farm To Test All Cows For Mad Cow Disease”

Pages: « 1 [2] Show All

  1. It's me, T.J. says:

    One test is not enough to determine whether or not an animal is definitively positive for BSE.

    I believe that while our systems may still need to be developed I do feel that a lot of progress is being made in this area. The economies of scale are so much larger than everyone else’s that it is hard to make a side-by-side comparison with anyone. As far as comparing the United States with other countries, I feel much more comfortable with our food supply than anyone else’s.

    Also, we must also keep in mind how BSE truly affects us. BSE does not cause CJD which will be contracted by those few unfortunate individuals no matter what they do or eat. However BSE does cause a variant (vCJD) of CJD which is responsible for 155 deaths worldwide as of January, 2004.

    As of 2005 there were 6,556,773,622 people in the world. And not to diminish the value of any single life, but this calculates to less than 2/100,000,000ths of 1%. (I think my zeroes are accurate.)

    Five million people die each month from starvation alone. (average of 60 million annually)

    Yes, I agree that our food supply must be safe for all of us. And it is an incredibly huge task to undertake. However, we must keep things in perspective.

    “Is there a test to detect BSE in live animals?

    Currently there is no test to accurately detect BSE in live animals. SeveralEuropean companies are applying for patents and testing procedures for a live animal BSE test.”

    “What causes Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease?

    Scientific evidence points to four different modes of infection. CJD may becontracted through an inherited genetic form. Secondly, a sporadic form of CJD accounts for 85 percent of the CJD casesand has an unknown origin. Thirdly, infection could result from contact with CJD contaminated surgical equipment usedfor brain surgery or spinal taps. Finally, CJD could be contracted through the use of human growth hormones.

    What is the incidence of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease?

    CJD occurs at a consistent rate of approximately one case per millionpeople per year around the world, including nations where BSE has never occurred. There have been 4,751 deaths resultingfrom CJD in the United States from 1979 to 1998. CJD also occurs at a consistent rate among vegetarians and meat eatersalike, which implies that its cause is not associated with meat consumption.

    What is Variant CJD?

    Variant CJD (vCJD) is a new strain of CJD first detected in 10 Britons in 1996. Variant CJD hadbeen identified as being very similar to BSE symptoms, incubation time, and brain lesions.

    How are CJD and vCJD different?

    Variant CJD affects a much younger individual at an average age of 28 years old,whereas CJD affects people over the age of 63. The electrical activity of the brain with vCJD is different than CJD. BSE ismore closely related to vCJD than CJD. Researchers believe that vCJD may develop in younger adults through the of BSE infected nervous system tissue. In addition, the average duration of vCJD symptoms are 10 monthslonger than CJD.

    What is the incidence of vCJD?

    As of January 5, 2004, there have been 155 definite and probable cases of vCJD (145 inthe United Kingdom, six in France, one in Ireland, one in Italy, one in Canada, and one in the United States. However,scientists concluded the patients in Canada and the United States contracted the disease while living in the UnitedKingdom. The patient in the United States has never donated or received blood, plasma, or organs, and the patient has nohistory of any major surgeries.”


    “* There are four types of tests for BSE: two types of ELISA tests, a Western blot, and an immunohistochemistry (IHC), which has been the standard.”


    “BSE Rapid Screening Tests: Testing cattle for BSE is dependent on detecting an abnormal prion protein in specific areas of the central nervous system. These screening tests are utilized by USDA and Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) officials to determine if an animal is suspected positive for BSE. In the event of a positive or inconclusive test, the animal’s meat will either be condemned or quarantined until a confirmed result is obtained.

    BSE Confirmatory Tests: If a positive or inconclusive result is obtained from the BSE rapid screening test, the sample is sent to the National Veterinary Service Laboratories for confirmation. There are two types of tests considered confirmatory for BSE: Immunohistochemistry (IHC) and Western blot.

    In the IHC test, a portion of the intact brain is visually examined to determine the presence of holes or a spongy appearance. The portion of brain will then treated with a special stain to determine the presence of abnormal prion proteins that indicate BSE.

    In the Western blot, the brain sample is exposed to a protease enzyme that will destroy any normal prion proteins in the sample leaving only abnormal prion proteins. The sample is run through a gel which will separate the prion protein components by molecular weight. The proteins are then treated with a special stain to determine the presence of BSE prions. Diagnosis of BSE is made when three distinctive staining bands are present.”


  2. carol says:

    and our pet food is safer than any other countries, sure keep believing that. what’s a little mad cow between friends !!!

  3. e wem says:

    Some points:
    1. Canada has been a leading supplier of calves to US beef farmers. The sick cow found in Washington was one of a huge number of cpws that started their lives in Canada

    2. Because we have been recycling beef parts into animal feed a long time mad cow had to have spread into our own native herds from the Canada calf supply line. We have also been putting cow blood into calf feed a long time

    2. The big beef raisers do not want testing because more mad cow will be found, not because of the cost of testing in my opinion.

    I remember reading an article on the cattleman who was building his own lab to test for mad cow so he could export to Japan. He said it cost $50 per cow to test. A cow gives 500 to 1000 lbs of finsihed beef. That increases the cost by pennies per pound.

    We can choose to pay a lot lot more for organic beef right now

    Who said we would care? Not me.

    Testing cows guarantees we will find a lot more mad cow if only from the original Canadian calf supply

    That is waht the beef raisers fear. They do not have to test their beef just because the little guy does.

    But the big feedlots know that the public will become suspicious if they do not also test their cows. They fear the drop in sales that will happen

    More sick cows will be found if we test. It is inevitable. When mad cow started, I remember an ag vet saying that every vet had seen cows at slaughter with mad cow presentation. It may be a small percentage, but we eat a lot of cows, so the number will be more than one or two. Probably hundreds found at minimum

    A note and an apology to Canadians: there is no proof that Canada is the root source of infection for American mad cow. We have also brought in European stock over the years too, and Europe was highly infected. For all we know, we gave mad cow to Canada in the first place. Which country started feeding cows to cows first anyway?

    Meanwhile if you research the disease much has been learned. Mad cow is a ‘folded’ protein that our bodies cannot get rid of unlike most waste proteins. I have also read that older cows are more likely to show symptoms.

    To me this suggests that mad cow may be a disease of cumulative damage, like cirrhosis of the liver in alcoholics. The more you eat, the more prions leave scrap in your brains. That is my own hunch

    Wouldnt that be a bad thing for the beef industry? It would mean that many or most American beef eaters have a ‘little’ mad cow in their brains

    ask a scientist about mad cow:

  4. DMS says:

    It’s Me, TJ: I don’t see how any of your facts about CJD or testing procedures speaks against the cattle industry testing the cattle for BSE. What harm could it possibly do? It may catch some infected cattle that would have otherwise gotten through the system. At worst there may be a false negative, but that negative would not have been so designated anyway because it would not have been tested in the first place. There are always some false negatives in all aspects of medical testing, but is that a reason not to perform the test and potentially catch the real positives? More testing would also give us a more accurate number of the actual number of cases. More information can never be bad. Uninformed people are powerless. I for one want the numbers, and I want to decide how to react for myself.

  5. Anonymous says:


Pages: « 1 [2] Show All

E-mail It