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June 3, 2007

BehindTheMedspeak: The best way to prevent mad-cow disease is to not look for it


This rather strange approach to the epidemiology of this devastating infection is the one that's been adopted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Here's the latest on the subject, from the May 30, 2007 Wall Street Journal.

    Agriculture Department to Fight Ruling on Mad-Cow Testing

    The Bush administration said it will fight a ruling allowing meatpackers to test their animals for mad-cow disease. The Agriculture Department tests fewer than 1% of slaughtered cows for the disease. Kansas-based Creekstone Farms Premium Beef wants to test all of its cows. A federal judge ruled in March that such tests must be allowed. The Agriculture Department argues that widespread testing could lead to a false positive. Larger meat companies say if Creekstone tests its meat and advertises it as safe, they might be expected to perform the expensive test, too.


Wouldn't it be preferable — from a public health standpoint — to find false positives along with infected animals rather than let such diseased cows into the food chain, as is currently the practice in this country?

From the point of view of cattlemen and meat producers, of course, just the opposite is true.

And I guess for the time being they still command an awful lot of political juice in Washington, such that they've got the Agriculture Department continuing to sing from their hymnbook.

Though it seems to me the dissonance is growing.

Me, I'd be happy to pay a bit extra to cover the cost of universal testing of cattle, as is standard practice in Japan.

But then, I've seen someone dying from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (the human expression of mad-cow).

It's horrible.

Trust me — you want every cow tested starting yesterday.

June 3, 2007 at 04:01 PM | Permalink


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Or you could just... not eat cow...

Just an idea

Posted by: IB | Jun 4, 2007 11:49:56 PM

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