Search OCA
Get Local!

Mad Cow Disease and Pet Food

April 4, 2001 The Washington Post by Don Oldenburg

Last January, Purina Mills mistakenly shipped a batch of livestock feed to a Texas cattle ranch. It contained ingredients banned by the federal government as a safeguard against mad cow disease in the United States. That concerns Maria Rowan. She's troubled by news reports of the disease (which is fatal to humans who eat infected livestock, as well as the animals themselves) as it spreads across Europe. But she's also worried about pets in this country -- specifically about Sparkle, her cat.

"Are the meat byproducts and bone meal that are currently being used to produce pet foods the very same ingredients that are not approved for use in livestock feed?" asks the Kensington resident, after finding out that Purina would buy the Texas cattle that ate the banned feed.

Rowan also wonders, "Is it possible to avoid the risk of exposing our pets to contaminated beef products in pet foods by checking ingredient lists?"

According to the Food and Drug Administration, commercial pet foods "quite possibly" contain the meat byproducts and bone meal banned from livestock feeds for ruminant animals such as cows and sheep. There are no restrictions on using it in dog or cat food, or in feed for pigs, horses and chickens.

"It is important to note that just because meat and bone meal are prohibited for use in ruminants, it is not necessarily infected," emphasizes the FDA.

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), a k a "mad cow disease," is believed to be transmitted through animal feed containing certain animal proteins that may harbor the BSE infectious agent. According to the Department of Agriculture, no cattle in the United States have been found with BSE. No human cases of BSE-related disease have been found here. No evidence of BSE has been found anywhere in dogs, horses, and other pets, such as birds, reptiles, and gerbils. A feline version of BSE has been documented in cats in Europe, mostly in the United Kingdom, but not in the United States.

Since 1991, the United States has banned the import of animal foods, including pet food, containing ruminant materials from countries with BSE. The ban extended to all of Europe in 1997 and, last December, it included imports of animal proteins from any species from 31 countries known to have BSE or considered at high risk.

The FDA says the risk of transmitting BSE to cats through pet food in the United States is "low" because pet food containing meat cannot be imported from at-risk countries, and all meat in U.S.-manufactured pet food comes from U.S. animals that are BSE-free.

As for reading pet-food labels for clues, the FDA says: "It's unlikely that you would be able to determine from the labels whether the meat and bone meal in pet foods come from cattle or other animals."


Home | News | Organics | GE Food | Health | Environment | Food Safety | Fair Trade | Peace | Farm Issues | Politics
Forum | Español | Campaigns | Buying Guide | Press | Search | Volunteer | Donate | About Us | Contact Us | Email This Page

Organic Consumers Association - 6771 South Silver Hill Drive, Finland MN 55603
E-mail: Staff · Activist or Media Inquiries: 218-226-4164 · Fax: 218-353-7652
Please support our work. Send a tax-deductible donation to the OCA

Fair Use Notice: The material on this site is provided for educational and informational purposes. It may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of scientific, environmental, economic, social justice and human rights issues etc. It is believed that this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have an interest in using the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. The information on this site does not constitute legal or technical advice.
Please Support Our Sponsors!

Organic Valley

Organic
Valley

Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps

Dr. Bronner's
Magic Soaps

Botani Organic

Botani
Organic

Aloha Bay

Aloha Bay

Eden Organics

Eden Foods

Frey Vineyards

Frey
Vineyards

Intelligent Nutrients

Intelligent
Nutrients