According to a recent article written by the Associated Press, The Food and Drug Administration had promised in January 2004 to close loopholes in a ban on putting cattle remains in cattle feed. However, according to the article, the loopholes seem to remain:
- Ground-up cattle remains can be fed to chicken, and chicken litter is fed back to cattle. Poultry feed that spills from cages mixes with chicken waste on the ground, then is swept up for use in cattle feed.
- Cattle blood can be fed to cattle and often comes in the form of milk replacement for calves.
- Restaurant leftovers, called “plate waste,” are allowed in cattle feed.
- Factories are not required to use separate production lines and equipment for feed that contains cattle remains and feed that does not, creating the risk that cattle remains could accidentally go into cattle feed.
- Besides being fed to poultry, cattle protein is allowed in feed for pigs and household pets, creating the possibility it could mistakenly be fed to cattle.
- Unfiltered tallow, or fat, is allowed in cattle feed, yet it has protein impurities that could be a source of mad cow disease.
One would think tough enforcement is in order on the feeding of animal parts to other animals that are eventually consumed by humans. This should be a “no brainer.”
While the incubation period for most food borne pathogens is a matter of days, and human symptoms of hepatitis-A infection frequently do not show up for over a month, symptoms of “Mad Cow,” or the human variant known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, may not appear for decades. Because we should not have to worry about the meat we eat today, and the impact that it could have on us days or decades from now, we need stronger and more aggressive regulation and enforcement by the Government, specifically the USDA. This arm of the government must do everything it can to protect the consuming public from tainted product and to protect the US meat industry from economic suicide.
While European countries have resorted to testing massive numbers of cows to both establish the prevalence of BSE and to eradicate the disease, the has USDA limited testing to less than 20,000 animals out of a US herd of millions. We also have the ability to cheaply and scientifically test meat for a whole host of contaminates before it hits our plate. Europe requires testing for “Mad Cow” for nearly every cow slaughtered. Testing for all pathogens should happen at every stage of production – from “farm to fork.”
We have the ability to live up to the billing of the safest food supply in the world. The question is whether another “Mad Cow” crisis will be the catalyst that finally starts the reform necessary to stop making US consumers ill and to regain the confidence of the World in our food supply.