Mad Cow was Inevitable

 Saturday, December 27, 2003


Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease (CJD) prion disease (known as kuru) was once confined to New Guinea tribes who practiced ritual cannibalism and ate the brains of their dear, departed, progenitors.  A similar disease of sheep, scrapie, jumped to the meat and dairy beef herds of Great Britain, because of the recycling of carcasses of dead sheep into cattle feed.  The prion is a misfolded protein molecule and the old formaldehyde treatment of offal was sufficient to unfold it and render it harmless.  Environmental regulations designed to protect us (and cattle) from the formaldehyde opened up the Pandoraís box of prions, dumped them into the beef supply, and turned scores of Britons into the functional equivalent of New Guinea stone-age cannibals.


The current outbreak in Oregon, so far confined to one poor, sick, cow, is probably the tip of the iceberg even though we are assured by the same officials who told us it could not happen here that it canít happen again.  Here are a few painful truths we would rather not hear now:


  1. Sick animals routinely enter our supply of hamburger meat.  (McDonald's won't use  meat from  sick animals).


  1. The nervous tissue of such animals is sent for testing, but the testing comes too late to head off the progress of its meat from mad cow to the hamburger patty.


  1. All other brain and nerve tissue goes into feed for hogs, chickens, and pets (animal by-products  is the code word in pet food).


  1. Other offal may go into cattle feed.


  1. Compliance in segregating the two (offal vs. offal + nerve tissue) has never been 100%.  The program was begun when Mad Cow turned out to be a real threat in Britain, despite assurances to the contrary. 


  1. The regulations were designed to make sure it couldnít happen here. Since they were not strictly enforced, it did, in fact, happen here  (or maybe it happened in Canada).


Which beef is safe?  Organic is safest.   Organic feed may not contain offal or hormones.  Q.E.D. 


The beef industry is shaken by the billion dollar markets it is being frozen out of, because it failed to keep brain and nerve tissue out of its cattle feed.   Thatís half the world. As for the other half, the industry has voluntarily and willfully given up on the European market for years because it insists on producing cattle that Europeans refuse to eat because our steers are hurried along with hormones   That's DES for beef and bGH for dairy.  Either way Europe won't touch it.  Now we have BSE too.  We also have beef that is Ďenhancedí with 8 to 12% water.  This watery product is making a big impact at super stores.  Always the low price. 

As long as itís cheap,