Search OCA
Get Local!
Consumer Groups Find Flaws in U.S. Mad Cow Programs

Consumer Groups Find Flaws in U.S. Mad Cow Programs

July 19, 2001 Reuters by Randy Fabi

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two U.S. consumer groups on Thursday questioned the reliability of the federal government's monitoring program for spotting an outbreak of the deadly mad cow disease, which has never been reported in the United States.

Public Citizen and the Government Accountability Project said the number of Agriculture Department tests for mad cow disease -- also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy -- varied widely for cattle slaughtered in the 20 largest beef-producing states.

``The USDA's claim that the U.S. is free from this disease would be more credible if the testing program was not in such disarray,'' said Felicia Nestor, food safety director at the Government Accountability Project.

Scientists believe mad cow disease spreads to other cattle when the bones, spinal cord and other remains of diseased livestock are ground up for use in animal feed. The United States has banned such livestock feed since 1997.

More than 100 people, primarily in Britain, have died from mad cow's human version, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, after consuming infected meat.

Between August 1997 and December 2000, mad cow testing rates ranged from 1,004 brains per million cattle slaughtered in New York to 0.5 brains per million cattle in Kansas, the consumer groups said.

The average testing rate for the top 20 beef-producing states, accounting for 98 percent of all cattle slaughtered, was 21 brains per million cattle.

``Even though the plant I worked in had high numbers of downer cows, no brains were ever taken for BSE testing,'' said Lester Friedlander, a former USDA veterinarian.

In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, consumer activists urged the Bush administration to strengthen its mad cow detection program, so all testing rates can be approximately equal in all states.

USDA officials said the consumer groups' analysis was flawed because it takes into account slaughtered cattle that were not susceptible to mad cow disease.

Some 88 percent of all cattle slaughtered in the United States are less than two years old, an age level which cattle have never tested positive for mad cow disease.

``Independent analysis has shown no evidence of BSE here in the U.S., but we will continue to look to improve our systems to prevent BSE,'' said USDA spokesman Kevin Herglotz. ``In terms of the report, I think what I can see of it lacks true scientific analysis.''

Herglotz said this year USDA was planning to double the number of tests on downer cattle from the 2,500 tests held in 2000.

Harvard University is expected to issue in the next few weeks its assessment on the effectiveness of U.S. animal disease prevention programs and the likelihood mad cow disease could spread to the United States.


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