Mad Cow Disease (Still!)
18 months ago, the FDA was supposed to take steps to protect Americans from Mad Cow Disease. It didn’t. Six months ago the meat and poultry inspectors’ union told the USDA that body parts known as “specified risk materials” were getting into the production chain. These savory items included the brains, skulls, spinal cords and intestines of cattle more than 30 months old. (30 months is the cutoff age.)
Not only was nothing done, but some of the inspectors were told by the USDA “not to intervene” when they saw the body parts of older cattle mixed in with those of younger cattle. It turned out that only packing plant supervisors — not government inspectors — were supposed to check the production line to make sure that older body parts were kept off.
Whew! That was close! Protocol is much more important than protecting the public health. Let’s get our priorities straight. Imagine! A public health threat averted by the wrong person — where’s the outrage?!?
And the problem continues to fester. American cattle are eating chicken waste products and cattle blood, among other tasty products. Mmm — it’s what’s for dinner.
The co-author of “Mad Cow USA: Could the Nightmare Happen Here?” summed it up. “Once the cameras were turned off and the media coverage dissipated, then it’s been business as usual, no real reform, just keep feeding slaughterhouse waste. The entire U.S. policy is designed to protect the livestock industry’s access to slaughterhouse waste as cheap feed.”
In January 2004 the FDA came up with strict new rules to protect the public from Mad Cow Disease. Those rules were scrapped six months later.
In case you’ve seen the movie “Five Easy Pieces,” here’s an updated version: when you go to a restaurant and order a hamburger, tell them to hold the chickenshit and cattle blood.