USDA needs to do more to ensure safety of American beef

While Consumers Union is encouraged by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) decision to adopt the Western blot test in addition to its current testing methods to confirm cases of mad cow, we do not believe this measure goes far enough to protect consumers and the safety of their beef.
Consumers Union urges the USDA to require that all cattle over 20 months of age be tested at slaughter for mad cow disease and urges the Food and Drug Administration to close dangerous loopholes in animal feed rules that allow the feeding of cow’s blood and chicken coop floor waste to other cattle. Right now the USDA tests only about one percent of the cattle slaughtered in the United States—significantly less than other countries with confirmed cases of mad cow.
Since the most infectious material is to be found in the brains of cows, consumers could simply avoid them. Some processed beef products, like many sausages and hot dogs, are produced using machines that scour a cow carcass for all available meat. Since they may contain central nervous system tissue, some people may want to avoid them as well. Roast beef, or hamburger that the butcher grinds in front of you, carries the least risk. Consumers may also want to consider organic or grass-fed beef, since these cows are not fed any remains of other animals.
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Mike Hansen, (914-378-2452/917-774-3801—based out of New York city)
Jean Halloran (914-378-2457/718-625-2428—based out of New York city)
Sally Greenberg (914-486-3996—based in Washington, DC)
Reggie James (512-657-6999—based out of Austin, Texas)
Elisa Odabashian (415-572-0036—based in San Francisco, California)