Forget the mad-cow madness and enjoy your beef in peace

Forget the mad-cow madness and enjoy your beef in peace

For years now, we have been aware that British farmers were feeding animal parts to cows. We were horrified at the thought of it and were sure that WE don’t do that sort of thing here. But it seems that U.S. farmers have also been turning our cows into cannibals.

I am very wary of The New York Times and consider it the conduit for more false information than any other source in the country, including the federal government (and that’s saying something). But what it is saying about the way commercial beef is produced in this country is so unbelievable that I almost believe it. Even though it has been wrong about everything from communism in Russia to asbestos, DDT, global warming, and tobacco, it must be telling the truth this time. I mean, it is so preposterous it must be true.

The Times reports: “For years, calves have been fed cow’s blood instead of milk, and cattle feed has been allowed to contain composted wastes from chicken coops, including feathers, spilled feed and even feces... Though the United States banned the use of cow parts in cattle feed in the 1990?s, it still permits rendered matter from cows to be fed to pigs and chickens, and rendered pigs and chickens to be fed back to cows. Critics say that in theory, that sequence could bring mad cow disease full circle, back to cows.”

The Times did say “in theory,” but the fact is, as disgusting as these feeding habits might seem to us, no one knows for sure what causes mad cow disease and how–or if–it gets spread to humans. But health officials in Britain and the U.S. have made up their minds that the disease in humans, which they call “scrapie-like” disease, is contracted from eating meat from cows contaminated with mad cow disease. “Contaminated feed is widely believed to have started the mad cow epidemic that infected more than 180,000 animals in Britain in the 1980s and has led to the death of more than 140 people,” the Times reports. “Widely believed” is hardly proof. And those 140 people died from Crutzfeld-Jacob disease. Crutzfeld-Jacob is similar to mad cow: It’s beginnings are also shrouded in mystery. But there’s just no evidence that it is contracted from eating contaminated beef.

The bottom line is, we don’t know where these new diseases came from and how they are transmitted. The whole show is eerily like so many other hysterias we have had in the last 40 years-such as the asbestos panic, the global warming frenzy, and the DDT fiasco. Most of these comical but tragic frenzies have been created and promoted by the FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency. Now we face the mass slaughter of cows and the destruction of an entire industry without the authorities having any idea what they are doing. It has ominous implications for a major food source, not to mention for your health.

Action to take:

Until the supposed “link” between mad-cow beef and Crutzfeld-Jacob disease has any sort of evidence behind it, I suggest you not worry about it. Forget all the hype the media is throwing at you and keep on enjoying beef in all its glory.


“Mad Cow Quandary: Making Animal Feed,” The New York Times, 2/6/04