Industry Calls For Stronger Consumer Protections On Mad Cow

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By Consumers Union on Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

In a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack (PDF), ranchers and cattle groups, alarmed by the discovery of yet another case of mad cow disease in Canada at a time when the border is largely open to Canadian cattle,  called on the USDA to strengthen protections against mad cow disease. From the letter:

It would be irresponsible for USDA to continue to ignore the empirical facts that show Canada’s ongoing BSE (ed note: commonly called mad cow disease) problem is far more serious than USDA predicted when it first relaxed U.S. disease safeguards in 2005, and then further relaxed those safeguards in 2007 to facilitate the importation of Canadian cattle born after March 1, 1999…

Mr. Secretary, above all other considerations, the health and safety of the people of the United States and United States’ livestock must come first – first before trade and first before international relations. Your agency’s current BSE policies and regulations compromise directly this health and safety priority and we, the undersigned, urge you to take immediate action to, at the very least, restore for the United States the protections against the introduction and spread of BSE that were in place before USDA began to systematically dismantle its BSE-related border restrictions.

Consumers Union couldn’t agree more. We are glad that industry is stepping up and calling for better standards for safeguarding consumers. In March Canada had its 17th case of mad cow disease since 2003. We think that a four-point action plan is needed:

  1. The U.S. should keep the border closed and prohibit beef imports from Canada at this time,
  2. The U.S. and Canada should eliminate loopholes in their feed ban rules. Both countries should prohibit feeding of cow’s blood to cattle immediately. In addition, the U.S. should also ban food waste and poultry litter including excrement in animal feed. As soon as possible both countries should ban feeding all mammalian protein to food animals.
  3. The U.S. and Canada should inspect and enforce feed rules at all feed production facilities, including sampling and testing of animal feed.
  4. All cows over 20 months old should be tested for mad cow disease.


Click here to learn more about Mad Cow disease in your meat
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