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Thread: Mad Cow Disease
12-29-03, 12:11 AM #1firstsgtmikeGuest Free Member
Mad Cow Disease
The reason a female "problem" was called PMS is because the term "Mad Cow Disease" was already taken.
But I do have a serious question, for farmers, ranchers, breeders, etc.
"federal officials have taken the precaution of recalling 10,000 pounds of meat from the infected cow and from 19 other cows slaughtered Dec. 9".
A total of 20 cows, resulting in 10,000 lbs. of meat equals 500 lbs. of meat per cow.
I'm a city kid, I didn't see my first cow until I was 16.
QUESTION! 500 lbs of meat from a dressed out cow?
Last I read, beef was bringing $1.00 a lb. on the hoof. Is hamburger beef selling @ $5.00 per lb?
I have a problem with the numbers.
When I read numbers or statistics that I have problems with, I wonder what is being covered up?
Are the numbers real, or am I right to be concerned?
12-29-03, 12:57 AM #2
The problem is two fold. The 500 lbs per cow. Take out most of the bones, the head, hooves, all the guts, the blood, the hide, horns etc, and you won't have 500 lbs from a dressed out feeder cow. Not only will they have to recall the meat from those 20 cows, they will also recall all the meat that was processed at the same time from the affected processing plants. This especially holds true in ground beef. There's no way to separate the meat from one cow or even 20 cows from all the others they might process in one day. In effect, the 10,000 lbs is likely from all the cows that were processed at the same plants that day. It's not unusual for one plant to process a million lbs of beef/day. For instance, the last e.coli recall was for several million lbs, even tho only one sample was found tainted. The US produced 2.1 BILLION lbs of beef in Dec 2001 alone.
12-29-03, 01:58 AM #3
Isn't this prevented by using the right feed (no livestock "by-products, etc.)? Is the "garbage feed" really worth the risk for the producers?
12-29-03, 05:15 AM #4
U. S. Department of Health and Human Services
U. S. Food and Drug Administration
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
Consumer Questions and Answers About BSE
What is "Mad Cow Disease" (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy)?
Mad Cow Disease is the layperson's name for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), a transmissible, slowly progressive, degenerative, fatal disease affecting the central nervous system of adult cattle. There is no evidence to date of BSE affecting U.S. cattle, * despite an aggressive surveillance program under which nearly 20,000 animals were tested last year.
Does BSE affect humans?
BSE is a disease that affects cattle. However, there is a disease similar to BSE called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), or vCJD, which is found in humans. There have been a small number of cases of vCJD reported, primarily in the United Kingdom, occurring in people who consumed beef that may have been contaminated. (As of May 2003, there have been a total of approximately 139 cases of vCJD worldwide.) There is strong scientific evidence (epidemiological and laboratory) that the agent that causes BSE in cattle is the agent that causes vCJD in people. The one reported case of vCJD in the United States was from a young women that contracted the disease while residing in the UK. The symptoms appeared years later after the young woman moved to the U.S.
The disease, vCJD, which primarily affects younger persons, is very hard to diagnose until the disease has nearly run its course. In its early stages, the disease may manifest itself through neurologic symptoms, but it is not until the latter stages of the disease that brain abnormalities detectable by x-ray or MRI can be seen.
Is it possible to get vCJD from eating food purchased in the United States?
The disease, vCJD, has been associated with the consumption of foods produced from BSE infected animals. Because BSE has never been found in the U.S., * it is unlikely that food purchased in the U.S., such as at a grocery store or restaurant, would be contaminated. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has restricted the importation of live ruminants, such as cows and sheep, and most food products from these animals from BSE countries since 1989, and from all European countries since 1997. It is important for consumers to know that:
No meat products from ruminant animals from the 33 countries identified as having BSE or at risk for having BSE are allowed in the U.S. This includes meat products used in human, animal, and pet foods. Milk and milk products continue to be imported into the U.S. from these countries because milk and milk products are not believed to pose any risk for transmitting BSE to humans. Experiments have shown that milk from BSE-infected cows has not caused infections in the same species or in other test animals.
Under an Import Alert, FDA stops cosmetic and dietary supplement ingredients containing bovine materials from animals originating in the 33 countries where BSE has been found or is at risk for being found from entering the U.S.
What is being done to determine whether the newly recognized vCJD is occurring in the United States?
With heightened concern about vCJD in Europe, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have enhanced their vCJD surveillance in the U.S. To date, there has been one reported case of vCJD in the United States. A young women contracted the disease while residing in the UK. The symptoms appeared years later after she moved to the U.S.
What is the current risk to American consumers traveling to foreign countries of acquiring vCJD?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the current risk of acquiring vCJD from any specific country appears to be extremely small, but cannot be precisely determined because cattle products from one country might be distributed and consumed in others.
When and how did BSE in cattle occur?
BSE has been of great concern since 1986, when it was first reported among cattle in the United Kingdom. At its peak, in January 1993, almost 1,000 new cases per week were identified. The outbreak in the United Kingdom may have started from the feeding of scrapie-contaminated sheep meat-and-bone meal to cattle. Scrapie is a disease of sheep that is related to BSE in cattle. There is strong evidence that the outbreak in cattle was amplified in the United Kingdom by feeding rendered bovine meat-and-bone meal to young calves. The nature of the transmissible agent in BSE is not known. Currently, the most accepted theory is that the agent is a modified form of a normal cell surface component known as a prion protein. Why or how this substance changes to become disease-producing is still unknown. Prions are resistant to common treatments, such as heat, to reduce or eliminate its infectivity or presence.
Milk and milk products from cows are not believed to pose any risk for transmitting the BSE agent because experiments have shown that milk from BSE-infected cows has not caused BSE in cows or other test animals.
What countries have reported cases of BSE or are considered to have a substantial risk associated with BSE?
These countries are: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Former Yugoslavia Republic of Macedonia, The Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Japan, and United Kingdom (Great Britain including Northern Ireland and the Falkland Islands).
Canada has recently been added to this list of countries from which imports are restricted.
Is BSE Affecting Cattle in the United States?
Active surveillance for BSE in the highest risk cattle in the United States has failed to identify any cases of BSE in the United States. * Federal and state agencies have taken a series of actions to prevent the introduction of BSE into the US food supply.
For example, to prevent BSE from entering the United States, firm restrictions were placed on the importation of live ruminants and ruminant products including meat, meat-and-bone meal, offals, and glands from countries where BSE was known to exist. These restrictions were later extended to include importation of ruminants and certain ruminant products not only from BSE-positive countries, but also countries thought to be at high risk for BSE, even if the disease hadn't been identified in those countries.
In addition, FDA prohibits the use of most mammalian protein in the manufacture of animal feeds given to ruminants because this kind of feeding practice is believed to have initiated and amplified the outbreak of BSE in the United Kingdom.
Are these actions being taken against Canadian products?
Yes, FDA and USDA have expanded their BSE import restrictions to include Canadian products.
Is BSE, the disease that affects cattle in Europe and has now occurred in a beef cow in Canada, the same as CWD, the disease that affects elk and deer in the US?
Many different "Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies" (TSE) exist in different animals (including people). To date, we have found no evidence that the TSE in cattle (BSE) and the TSE in deer and elk (CWD) are related, but research is continuing. FDA is working closely with other government agencies and the public health community to address CWD in wild and domesticated herds. Wildlife and public health officials advise people not to harvest, handle, or consume any wild deer or elk that appear to be sick, regardless of the cause, especially in those states where CWD has been detected.
Is the beef in the U.S. considered safe to eat?
FDA, in collaboration with other federal agencies, has preventive measures already in place to reduce the American consumer's risk of exposure. There is no evidence that BSE has infected U. S. cattle, * and FDA continues to implement policies to prevent exposure to the public through FDA regulated products, including food, food ingredients, dietary supplements and cosmetics that contain bovine materials.
How is BSE spread among cattle?
It is believed that BSE is spread when cattle eat animal feed that contains the mammalian protein from other infected rendered animals. FDA, with its feed ban, has restricted the use of rendered mammals in ruminant feed.
What is being done to prevent Canadian products that may be contaminated with BSE from entering the United States?
The risk to human health resulting from the BSE-infected cow in Canada is extremely small, if it exists at all; no meat from this animal entered the human food supply. When this case was reported from Canada, FDA and USDA reacted immediately. USDA added Canada to its BSE restricted countries list, and USDA and FDA expanded their restrictions on imports from BSE countries to Canadian products.
FDA will continue to work with USDA to stop a wide variety of products (animal feed, human food) with bovine-derived materials from being imported into the U.S. from BSE restricted countries, including Canada. In addition, both FDA and USDA are cooperating with the Customs Service to ensure food safety at the border.
I guess we close the borders now so we can eat our steaks.
12-29-03, 06:19 AM #5
They've pretty much been closed for us, as far as beef exports go.
What's wrong with this picture?
Dec 23-a cow-one each- generic looking- holstein-bumhooey Washinton, is reported to have Mad Cow's disease.
Dec 27-96 hrs later, this country's USDA has tracked this cow back to it's place of birth in a foriegn country, pinned it's DOB down to a few months, know it's parents, how many and what gender it's offspring are, followed it right to it's present location and had it's brain flown to Britian to be examined.
The same govt can't reliably keep track of any of the over 1 million foreign visitors to this country, even tho detailed records are supposed to be kept on both legal visa holders and illegal immigrants. And, to this day, no cow has ever blown up a building.
How bout it? Let the USDA take over the INS????
12-29-03, 09:19 AM #6firstsgtmikeGuest Free Member
Two quotes from
Howard Dean blamed President Bush Friday for the Mad Cow disease outbreak. He sees an opportunity. Howard Dean went from Episcopal to Congregationalist over a bicycle path, but if it wins him any animal rights votes he will happily turn Hindu.
The Agriculture Department said Friday it tests any cow that looks sick. Yet the test results don't come back until after the cow has been slaughtered and sold for food. That's like frisking John Wilkes Booth on the way out of the theater.
I started this with a humorous(?) comment and a sincere question.
I appreciate Greybeard's (a Texan) input that 500 lbs for a dressed out feeder cow is a valid number.
Long after this "scare" is gone, I should be able to do the math and predict if the cost of my hamburgers is going up or down.
On a serious side. Someone better get their H & A wired together.
Is it real, or is it Memorex?
"As of May 2003, there have been a total of approximately 139 cases of vCJD worldwide."
Even if that was a weekly figure;, figures of old age, botched abortions, drunk drivers, floods, draughts, are figures that people
can accept and live with.
But PMS, excuse me, Mad Cow Disease is one that affects the world's economy by billions of dollars on a daily basis.
I don't care if it's real, or if it's memorex. FIX IT!
12-29-03, 03:24 PM #7
Howard Dean is a frickin' chameleon, I agree 1st Sgt.
And yes, we have to fix this; ask the Canadians and the other countries that are still econmically affected from other countries bans.
My family and I eat very little beef, but I understand the economical effect it has on us.
Just had a really good antelope steak a half hour ago, though!
12-29-03, 04:29 PM #8
I had no idea that a "downer" cow could still be butchered for human consumption. 130,000 of em a year, uf da!
Not much different than warm road kill.
Silly me, I thought "downer" cows were made into pet/mink food.
12-29-03, 04:42 PM #9
I worked for a small grocery store growning up, in rural Minnesota.
Downers, we butchered 'em the same as any animal. We would just cut the 'febered' (often abcessed) parts from the rest of the 'good' animal. The animals that we occasionally delivered to the stockyards in the Cities (often dead when we picked 'em up), well, I think I know what was done with 'em now....................
Sticking, outside of maybe once or twice a year, to wild game. Besides, it's just plain good for my soul to harvest, and process these wonderful critters! I can hardly wait for my little girl to go hunting with me next year!
The day is coming, where I won't buy any protien in a package. Or buy beer for that matter! Homebrew RULES!
12-29-03, 07:13 PM #10
rich, i tend to agree, eat a lot of moose. here in Wisconsin (ya have it in Colorado too) we have Chronic Wasting Disease (like Mad Cow, a prion related disease) affecting the deer herd.
I guess things haven't changed that much since Sinclair wrote "the jungle".
12-29-03, 07:27 PM #11
I'll have to read that book, as I haven't Ivalis. Thanks.
Yeah CWD was a big deal here, but now they're able to test animals, alive, by tranqing 'em, and taking DNA from their tounge. They're selecting animals in herds, and can pretty accurately ID the health of the herd.
I'd still bring the head and pay to get it tested.
12-29-03, 08:27 PM #12
Rich, "the jungle" was written in the early 1900s. Sinclair was an early "muckracker". The jungle exposed the conditions in the slaughterhouses.
Didn't know they had a CWD test other than the head thing.
12-29-03, 08:27 PM #13
Rich-I realize it was a while ago, but what you are describing
in the grocery store of your youth is now very much illegal, and has been for some time.
Chronic Wasting Disease and Mad Cow Disease (BSE) are related but not nearly the same thing. Different prion and resulting protien & enzymes. (more on that in the follow-up post: Mad Cow Disease for Dummies) Everyone should understand that there is currently no way to test for BSE (Mad Cow Disease) on live animals All tests are postmortem. Here's how it usually works.
1. A cow goes to a slaughter house. If it is randomly selected as the sample of the herd, or processing lot, it is killed, and the head (or brain sample)is sent off for BSE testing by a company dealing with pathology or by a govt USDA approved lab. Until recently, the healthy carcass may be processed as normal, with records kept as to where the animal came from, and which 'lot' or 'batch' the meat becomes a part of. I say until recently, because I believe I read this weekend, that the carcass must be kept now, until the test comes back from the lab. If the test comes back positive for BSE, the entire lot will be recalled.
Under all circumstances, the head, the entire spine, and the small intestines are removed from the carcass before further processing. I expect to see the tail (sold in some stores as 'ox-tail), to be included soon, as it is just an extension of the spine, and may contain nerve tissue.
2. A sick, dead, or fallen cow. The head is sent off for testing, and usually gets priority over healthy animal samples. The meat may be processed, but not for human consumption. It is processed in a part of the processing plant dedicated only for NHC. (non-human consumption) This usually means for pet food. BSE has never been found outside bovine family, tho scrapie and the related human version is, of course possible. I believe I read that researchers have yet to be able to transmit BSE to lab animals, or other cattle by any means other than injestion.
3. The USDA inspector visits a farm or feed lot, and designates a sample healthy animal for testing. The process is the same as #1.
12-29-03, 08:33 PM #14
Mad Cow Disease (BSE) for Dummies
I did NOT write this. A friend of mine (4th yr medical student, majoring in forensic investigation) from Canada did.
Ok, first off, we have to define the illness itself:
Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis is a fairly rare and obscure neurological disorder. It is untreatable,
incurrable. It belongs to a family of rather poorly understood disorders. There are human variants, and
ruminant variants, most commonly known as BSE.
Now, you are going to need to understand a couple of differences between normal viral/bacterial diseases
and illnesses like BSE.
Everyone here I'm sure has a vague idea of what viral and bacterial infections are. But for clarity:
Bacterial infections are generally caused by colonies of autonomous animals called, surprisingly enough,
bacteria. They infect the host, and breed. Sickness is generally the body's response to the invader.
Bacteria are fully functioning individuals that depend on the host to provide an appropriate
breeding ground. Bacteria vary widely in size, but tend to be fairly large, relative to other pathogens
and body cells.
Viral infections are a little more complicated. There is much debate as to wether a virus is even a "living"
thing. At least, depending on your definition of life. Simply put, a virus is little more than a half
complete cell, with a partial DNA strand, with very few actually WORKING structures. However, when introduced
into a host, the virus inserts it's DNA into the host cell, effectively changing the cell's function.
Think of it as a brain transplant. The modified cell then has the instructions for creating MORE
virii, and the cycle repeats. Physically, virus cells are extremely small
Finally, we have what is called a Prion. A Prion isn't even a half-complete cell. A prion is a malignant
strand of DNA that wanders around waiting to be picked up and used. Your body manufactures uncounted billions
of mRNA strands at any given time. This is the messenger boy from your DNA to your body. When your body
needs to create a protein, it pumps out the portion of DNA that describes the protein with a protein
called transcriptase. The new mRNA then floats around until it gets picked up by a chunk of protein
called reverse transcriptase, which decodes the mRNA into the desired protein. The mRNA strand is then
Now, the prion enters the host cell, gets picked up by the transcribing protein makes the protein, but
then gets spat back out intact. To repeat the cycle.
BSE is a Prion disease. The protein that the prion creates is an enzyme that has the ability to break
apart nervous tissue.
Now, what does all this mean? First, you can't transmit BSE like a normal viral or bacterial agent.
Neither can you kill or deactivate BSE by heat or disinfectant, since it isn't alive. Most proteins
tend to denature at around 50º. The prion responsible for BSE doesn't. About the only thing that
can effectively "kill" BSE is incineration.
Also, since BSE manifests as a metabolic disorder, there is not much you can do to DETECT the illness.
Any and all cases of BSE are discovered posthumusly, since there are almost NO effects from the disease
until very late in it's stage. When you cross-section the skull of the infected animal, the brain
appears to be a spnge-like mass.
The human variant, Cruetzfeldt-Jacob disease is much the same. The infected individual may not exhibit
any effects until 10, 15 years after initial infection. Afterwhich, the disease progresses much like
Alzheimers; Memory loss, loss of cognitive funtion etc. In addition, the individual may display
symptoms of any number of neurological disorders; depression, schizophrenia etc.
So, most cases are misdiagnosed anyway. The unfortunate part is even if it were diagnosed, there is
nothing that can be done about it at present, except treat the symptoms, and wait for eventual death.
As mentioned earlier, prion diseases cannot be transmitted by "normal" means. The prion isn't a free-
floating agent, spore, seed, or growth. It is a chemical that resides in the cellular material of the
infected animal. The ONLY way to acquire it is through consuming infected tissue.
This is where it gets weird; The prion responsible for the disease is only found in the NERVOUS tissue.
Which means that unless you are habitually eating entire beef-brains, you aren't likely to catch it.
Furthermore, unlike viral infections, the prion doesn't self-replicate. This means that C-J is a
culmulative disorder; how fast it progresses depends on the number prions incorporated.
Tests done to mammals suggest that a hamster has to be INJECTED with the raw protein on the order
of 100,000 units of the raw prion material to begin exhibiting symptoms. The amount or NERVOUS tissue found in most meat is measured in milligrams.
Which means that if you eat only T-bones, you'd have to consume several tons of INFECTED meat to stand
a reasonable statistical chance of getting the disease. And THAT is assuming 100% uptake of the
The human body isn't all that efficient at it. Even if you eat the meat, there is VERY little chance
that ANY of the prions will find their way into the nervous tissue.
So, to conclude, let's summarize and assess:
1) C-J is a horrible, horrible disease.
2) It's caused by a non-living chemical that gradually builds up in the body.
3) The chemical is ONLY found in the nervous tissue of infected animals.
4) The human body doesn't usually pick up the prion on it's own when eaten
Conclusion: It's not a terribly huge health risk, unless you have a passion for beef-brains.
12-29-03, 08:43 PM #15
Thanks for the info, Greybeard!
Yeah, that was 1981 - 82 that I worked for that store. Even then, it seemed pretty 'counter - intuitive'. Might also be a reason the girls don't eat red meat, and I eat very little.
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