Mad Cow Report No Reason to Worry, Health Officials Say
Should yesterday’s report of a case of mad cow disease in central California drive you crazy with worry?
Probably not, CNN reports, but it still has a major South Korean company taking American beef off its shelves.
It’s been six years since there has been a confirmed case of mad cow disease in the United States, according to the network. Just as a refresher, mad cow disease (the scientific term would be bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE for short) is fatal to adult cattle and can cause Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a fatal brain disorder in people.
So, no, it’s not something you want to mess around with, but CNN reports the risk for exposure to mad cow disease due to this current case is “extremely low given that the affected dairy cow in central California was not part of the human food chain and was not exposed to … BSE through animal feed.”
“It was never presented for slaughter for human consumption, so at no time presented a risk to the food supply or human health,” John Clifford, chief vet for the U.S. Agriculture Department, tells the network.
Still, one country that imports a significant amount of American beef is wary. South Korean officials tell CNN they will increase scrutiny on American beef imports, but don’t plan to stop them — a good thing for the U.S. beef industry, as South Korean brought in 125,000 tons of American beef in 2010. Nevertheless, South Korean retailer LotteMart has pulled U.S. beef from its shelves, with the company saying, “the sale of U.S. beef is temporarily suspended to ease our customers from anxiety.”
But food safety lawyer Sarah Klein, who works for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, says go ahead and grill up some steaks or burgers tonight.
“A case of a single cow with bovine spongiform encephalopathy is not a reason for significant concern on the part of consumers, and there is no reason to believe the beef or milk supply is unsafe,” she tells CNN. “If the cow were exposed to the typical strain of BSE via animal feed — and the government says that’s not the case here — that would have represented a significant failure.”
Cool, but suddenly we’re feeling like a meatless Wednesday might be on today’s menu.
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