(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The USDA has confirmed a case of mad cow disease in a dairy cow near Fresno. This is just the fourth case of mad cow disease found in the U.S. since the disease first appeared in the country in 2003. Agriculture officials say meat-eaters are not at risk because it’s an atypical case — the infected cow was not intended for the food supply and the disease cannot be transmitted by milk. But consumer advocates say there are many questions yet to be answered.

Guests:
Michael K. Hansen, senior scientist at Consumer's Union, the non-profit publisher of Consumer Reports
Tom Talbot, chairman of the Animal Health and Well Being Committee at the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, veterinarian and California beef producer
Jere Dick, veterinarian and associate deputy administrator with USDA Veterinary Services

  • Felix

    The topic of yesterday’s show, namely cheating, is pertinent to today’s discussion of Mad Cow disease, because the lobbying done by the beef industry to escape rigorous testing of their cows for prion disease is an obvious form of cheating. It is cheating by the corrupt ranchers and crony capitalists trying to conceal defective and dangerous products, and trying to cheat the country by rejecting their societal duty to prevent a health epidemic.

    • Felix

       Correct: replace “health epidemic” with food-borne epidemic.

  • Livegreen

    How come the human form of Mad Cow disease, Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (or vCJD) is rarely reported on?  How many people have died from vCJD?

    • Jon Witort

      I think it just needs a catchier name…

  • Chrisco

    It is “inappropriate” to talk about pink slime? That is very offensive language. He forgot to mention that it is ammonia-suffused and that when people find out what it is, they don’t want it. But I guess that is why it is “inappropriate” to talk about.

  • Shmurdie

    this is TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE. we are a developed nation with millions of dollars to treat animals well & prevent the spread of disease. this is created by man’s mistakes. feeding animal parts to the animal they belong to is MORALLY, ETHICALLY WRONG & DISGUSTING.

    • Ramona

       this disease has been around before humans ever put a cow over a campfire.  lighten up and take a few biology classes.

  • Motherhen

     The FDA and USDA need to make some serious changes. We’ve got “pink slime,” chicken washed in ammonia and a new case of Mad Cow. As a vegetarian, I am infuriated that natural vegetarians (in this case the masses of cows residing at feed lots) are still being fed rendered meat- including chickens, dogs, cats, sheep, horses, pigs, “roadkill” and other cows! Boycott now!      

  • Ssawyer1270

    Is is safer to eat organic grassed beef?

  • John tweed

    I’m sorry, but I just don’t believe that this cow was not in the food supply chain, I think that the statements being put out are disingenuous.  Of course once the cow was dead, it could not pass into the food chain. But what about before it was dead. 

  • Eliza

    Question for Michael Hansen: Please speak to the claim that the ‘disease cannot be transmitted by milk’

  • Sarahlloyd

    We just don’t know if BSE is present in our cattle, because the testing sample is too ridiculously small to prove anything. The industry doesn’t WANT to find BSE because it would be too expensive.

  • nolongereatbeef

    Is grass fed beef totally safe? no possibility of BSE? thanks

  • Ramona

    Michael Can you have your guests talk about the genetic predispositions in the human population that are involved with the conference of this disease.

  • janis

    Can you address the relationship between Mad Cow disease and Alzheimer’s disease?
     

  • Barber5

    Reporting on bse is a lot like reporting on terrorism: it sounds scary and dramatic but the odds of it impacting you are essentially zero.

    You’re much much more likely to get sick and die due to improper counter top sanitation and cross contamination than to contract mad cow.

    Spending any time thinking about this as a consumer is completely irrational

    • Ramona

       thank you for some sanity. 😉

  • Aetherstorm

    When we donate blood, the samples are combined and tested for diseases such as hepatitis and HIV. Would people consider it acceptable to test a small random sampling of blood samples? I doubt it. Why should we expect less from our food which eat everyday?

  • Chrisco

    We treat them like widgets. But the “swine”, the pig, is not a widget and will sit down in protest to the horrible things that is happening to him.

  • Joe

    Is it true that ground-up cows have been used as fertilizer for plants, such that even Vegans are at risk?

  • Deercoll

    Swine can have mad cow, some years ago a number of Americans had CJD from pork. And within the last three years two people died in Ashland Oregon from CJD.

  • Bob Jarecki

    My recollection of BSE cases in Ireland over 10 years ago is that at least one human case was traced to consumption of canned corned beef.  At that time, it was also reported that transmission was traced to consumption of many parts of cattle which were infected by feeds containing sheep parts.  Has the BSE prion and its methods of transmission fundmentally changed over the past decade?  Perhaps the USDA does not have a current case of transmission through feed containing chicken.  But this only makes it sound like the USDA operates on the “barn door closed after the horse has bolted” management philosopy.

  • MrsMJT

    One case? Hysteria being generated in the interest of US economic protectionism, for sure. (Previous “mad-cow” scare stories just happened to surface when Europeans wouldn’t accept US genetically-modified meat.)

  • Kenkottka

    Dear Mr.Krasny:

    Your guests for this broadcast were nothing but lackeys for the beef industry. The one guest who claimed that any beef Americans eat, whether grain fed or grass fed, is safe is either a liar or a moron, perhaps both. I missed the first fifteen minutes of the show and wondered if the question of feed lots and the beef industry’s use of antibiotics to mitigate the harm of grain feeding the animals was even addressed.

    I know you try to maintain a balanced view, but where was Michael Pollan when we needed him.

    Sincerely,
    Ken Kottka

  • I’m really glad that Dr Hansen stated that grass-fed beef (and organic) will always be safe.  Quality is the big issue here and I am a big proponent of grass-fed meat for this this reason: no risk of mad cow disease, no antibiotics, no hormones, really good omega3s (similar to salmon!), good levels of beta-carotene, CLA and other nutrients.  Research shows grass-fed red meat may improve mood too.  Also, its humane – cows are designed to eat grass and are healthier and happier!

    I also support that pink slime is “inappropriate” for human consumption

    Trudy Scott, Food Mood Expert and Nutritionist

  • JamesK

    Contrary to what one of your guests claimed, South Korea did not stop import of the US beef. South
    Korea’s Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries strengthened quarantine checks but did not suspend it. The ministry is also gathering more information about the incident. I wish that the guest state things based on facts. His comment on science versus politics was rather offensive and exaggerated if not false.
    http://www.koreaherald.com/national/Detail.jsp?newsMLId=20120425001282 

  • MJ

    One answer to the BSE concern:  just don’t eat beef–or any animal meat for that matter.  Recent nutrition research indicates we don’t need beef for protein, so who needs it?  The Buddists had it correct a long time ago.  Thank God (or Budda or Whoever) some part of our species did! 

  • FoodSafetyManager

    How about speaking a bit on the
    uniqueness of the prions: though infectious,
    they are not a form of ‘life’ such as bacteria or viruses, which themselves can
    be killed by heating, or by chemicals. Prion-infected food for instance cannot
    be made safe by any cooking for instance, no matter how high the temp or length
    of time. Only burning the material destroys the prion, right? Even when it is buried,
    the prion, which is more of a thing such as an un-living complex chemical, does
    not degrade in its infectious potency, it just lurks there in the soil.

     

    It is wrong, disgusting, and should be
    a crime, that any bovine, sheep etc (plant eating animals) are fed any animal
    material. Any animal material fed to chickens, pigs and other omnivores must be
    thoroughly tested well enough that all the forms of BSE are absolutely not
    present. Over time the BSE would become no longer a problem in livestock.

    Remember, there is no way to render
    BSE-contaminated flesh, animal feed, or whatever, not infectious. It simply has
    to be incinerated.  

  • Darioettore

    The bottom line is that we should stop torturing animals and base our diets on food other than meet. And please don’t worry about the protein intake for your “muscles”. I am 44 and I can still bench 315lb powered by soy, eggs, whey and vegetables.

  • Forbiddenhealing

       The USDA idea of food safety is limited to preventing immediate illness, but ignores the long-term nutritional deficiencies and toxicities responsible for America’s chronic disease epidemic.
       The public is deluded by the corporate food paradigm of animal feed lots and grain (GMO) based products.
       For a balanced program include knowledgeable organic farmers and natural health experts to question the premise of government supported industrial agriculture.
        There would be NO prions if industry was not allowed to feed animals grain, manure and their own slaughter wastes on the cheap in concentrated feed lots, nor would would there be bacterial pathogens or  drug/hormone residues. Milk would need no pasteurization, burgers would not need to be well done, meat would not be unhealthy and we would need no extravagantly expensive pharmaceutical healthcare.
        As long as these corporate spokesmen monopolize the conversion, the 1% will rule our lives. The jig is up, too many are becoming aware of fake wars, food and drugs and results in more fear mongering and a tightening police state.
        Unbalanced journalism and outright propaganda constitute the mainstream media and primary vector of mind control.  THINK!
       

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor