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Mad Cow Disease now in the U.S.


alacarte
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The purpose of the current testing (and statistical sampling) program utilized in the US is to verify that there is no BSE in US herds.

I'd modify that slightly to say that the testing and sampling methods were designed with a more complex goal in mind: to ensure that there is no BSE epidemic in US herds, while at the same time not being so comprehensive as to reveal the occasional but not statistically significant isolated case. Time will tell if this was the best move.

Clearly there was no plan of action to be followed were infected animals to be found.

I'd be surprised if there wasn't a plan of action. The USDA reacted too swiftly, too decisively, and in too organized a fashion for it to be improvised.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Clearly there was no plan of action to be followed were infected animals to be found.

I'd be surprised if there wasn't a plan of action. The USDA reacted too swiftly, too decisively, and in too organized a fashion for it to be improvised.

FG, you're absolutely right on there. It's really astonishing how quickly the USDA has moved on this. The cow was slaughtered on 12/9 and within two weeks it was reported and the beginning steps taken to ascertain how it came about. Quite remarkable considering the usual pace of the federal government.

And we shouldn't forget that within hours (or maybe minutes) of this hitting the newswires, alacarte got this thread started on gullet. Dynamics at work.

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The purpose of the current testing (and statistical sampling) program utilized in the US is to verify that there is no BSE in US herds.

I'd modify that slightly to say that the testing and sampling methods were designed with a more complex goal in mind: to ensure that there is no BSE epidemic in US herds, while at the same time not being so comprehensive as to reveal the occasional but not statistically significant isolated case. Time will tell if this was the best move.

Clearly there was no plan of action to be followed were infected animals to be found.

I'd be surprised if there wasn't a plan of action. The USDA reacted too swiftly, too decisively, and in too organized a fashion for it to be improvised.

I guess that there was a plan of action. My point was that whatever plan of action they had apparently did not take into account the fact that an animal could be long into the food chain by the time the test results were received, even though the lead time on the tests should have suggested that would happen.

So I guess their plan was to try to figure out what happened to the carcass after it was mixed, packed, and shipped to and from distributors, and recall whatever was not yet consumed, while telling the public that there is no particular risk involved.

Triage and disinformation, mostly. I wouldn't call that a good plan.

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To quote South Park:

BLAME CANADA!!!

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=stor...n_re_us/mad_cow

WASHINGTON - Investigators tentatively traced the first U.S. cow with mad cow disease to Canada, which could help determine the scope of the outbreak and might even limit the economic damage to the American beef industry.

Canadian officials provided records indicating the sick Holstein was in a herd of 74 cattle shipped from Alberta, Canada, into this country in August 2001 at Eastport, Idaho.

"These animals were all dairy cattle and entered the U.S. only about two or two-and-a-half years ago, so most of them are still likely alive," DeHaven said.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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The USDA and related agencies are too diverse, too spread out over too many areas, and the foot soldiers do the work while the bureaucrats unravel it, or worse, deceive when they have info contrary to the policy line. Last month it was hep. A in green onions; the health depts. jumped into action at that. The list goes on and on: alar, aflatoxins, brucellosis, CWD, BSE. For every person working overtime to try and effect real change,unfortunately there's usually 3 waiting to write fairy tales or downright lies in order to go along with what those on high want.

While we ponder what the small producers are up to, the mega meat concerns have a big old paw in this. Don't think there's not $$$lobby bucks$$$ at work here, too. Look at how long it took Big Tobacco to admit cigarettes might cause cancer.

For some folks, raising cattle is an honorable trade, one they are proud of. For others, it's simply another investment. For those sort of folks the health of the animals, and ultimately the consumers is a secondary concern.

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Triage and disinformation, mostly. I wouldn't call that a good plan.

If any of us have a better plan, we should put it forward.

Testing or at least inspecting every animal prior to slaughtering would have been a better plan. Oh, did you mean cheaper? :biggrin:

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Testing or at least inspecting every animal prior to slaughtering would have been a better plan. Oh, did you mean cheaper?  :biggrin:

The problem is that even as expensive a solution as sustainable agriculture would be cheaper in the long run [cf the British disaster]. But our government finances are conditioned by stockbroker economics, in which money travels so rapidly from investment to investment that only short-term projections are necessary. Look at present US government budgets and then figure how likely are any BSE-related policies which are calculated any further ahead than the next election.

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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Triage and disinformation, mostly. I wouldn't call that a good plan.

If any of us have a better plan, we should put it forward.

Testing or at least inspecting every animal prior to slaughtering would have been a better plan. Oh, did you mean cheaper? :biggrin:

Testing each downer prior to processing, maybe? A specialized plant (with a trained lab tech) could do this. Send all the downers there.

I see now that they're also trying to track down the by-products, like candles, soaps, and cosmetics made from the tallow of the animal.

The public had no idea that they were consuming animals that were in the process of dying of unknown diseases. The rules are going to change.

Regardless of how much smaller the risk of consumption of muscle meat is, in Europe they do not allow BSE positive animals to be consumed. The "safety factor" is supposed to be covering for the slight possibility that a young animal that shows no sign of the disease (even on post-mortem testing) may still be infected, yet its muscle meat is probably safe to eat. Given these considerations, there would be no beef animal whose brain is safe enough to eat, nor any part of a known infected animal.

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Triage and disinformation, mostly. I wouldn't call that a good plan.

If any of us have a better plan, we should put it forward.

Testing or at least inspecting every animal prior to slaughtering would have been a better plan. Oh, did you mean cheaper? :biggrin:

Testing each downer prior to processing, maybe? A specialized plant (with a trained lab tech) could do this. Send all the downers there.

I posted quickly and perhaps a bit too tersely, but what I meant by "inspecting" is that any animal that shows any signs of being unfit should be separated from those going to be slaughtered. Then, yes, tests could be run to determine whether the animal would be safe to eat, anyway.

I don't think these problems obtain to kosher slaughtering, by the way. A major part of kashrut is that animals with blemishes are treif (forbidden for human consumption).

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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The public had no idea that they were consuming animals that were in the process of dying of unknown diseases. The rules are going to change.

The public will quickly abandon the desire for changes in the rules if the price of beef increases to anything near what Europeans pay for beef, and the public will mostly look the other way if the price stays low. You may recall, in the UK, there were drastic reductions in beef purchasing during the mad cow episode, but as soon as a major supermarket chain offered its beef at half price it sold out almost immediately.

The rules are going to change, though, especially if additional cases of BSE are discovered. They're going to change because our detection program (which was the sensible way to structure a program prior to detection of any BSE cases) is now going to need to convert itself over into a screening program (which is what you need when there is a statistically relevant amount of BSE in the herd).

I imagine there will also be an increase in available funding for research on this issue, both from the US government (for obvious reasons) and from the US private sector (because now the US is a real market for BSE tests and possibly even cures). That the US had to send tissue samples to a lab in the UK for final analysis is not a typical occurrence in agriculture or medicine. One thing that will be interesting to watch is theoretical progress: it's entirely possible that if major new research efforts are undertaken, competing theories will develop. The prion theory has achieved dominance of late, but is still a theory. I wonder how history will judge it: brilliant scientific analysis, or our generation's equivalent of phlogiston.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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WASHINGTON - Investigators tentatively traced the first U.S. cow with mad cow disease to Canada, which could help determine the scope of the outbreak and might even limit the economic damage to the American beef industry.

Canadian officials provided records indicating the sick Holstein was in a herd of 74 cattle shipped from Alberta, Canada, into this country in August 2001 at Eastport, Idaho.

"These animals were all dairy cattle and entered the U.S. only about two or two-and-a-half years ago, so most of them are still likely alive," DeHaven said.

At this point, approximately 2 dozen nations have put a ban on the importation of US beef. As the world's largest exporter of beef, the economic impact is staggering. I found it odd, if not suspicious, that Canada was not among those participating in the ban. Good neighbor policy? Doubtful. When this story broke on Sat., I guess that my suspicions were confirmed. It also now appears that Canadian officials suspected very early on that they were the source of animal in question. It would look somewhat foolish to put a import ban on a product due to a problem that originated on your soil in the first place and was exported to the US.

I think it's a safe bet that those nations banning US beef will hit Canada with the same early next week.

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our generation's equivalent of phlogiston.

You get the "arcane scientific terminology usage" award for the week. :wacko:

Maybe for the month. :raz:

Nice work. You just did much to dispel some of Steingarten's theories about lawyers and writing. Or maybe you just did much to confirm his theory. I will need to reread them immediatly.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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The public will quickly abandon the desire for changes in the rules if the price of beef increases to anything near what Europeans pay for beef, and the public will mostly look the other way if the price stays low. You may recall, in the UK, there were drastic reductions in beef purchasing during the mad cow episode, but as soon as a major supermarket chain offered its beef at half price it sold out almost immediately.

Well this confirms my argument of the "wal-martization" of America. Americans want to pay bargain price for things with no thought to the fact that maintaining integrity of the food supply costs money. It's the bury the head in the sand attitude of "I don't care what they do, as long as it's cheap." I acknowledge that there are a lot of people out there living on limited incomes, but it's pretty pathetic that they'll complain about an extra $.10 per pound if it means their meat is safe.

I don't think these problems obtain to kosher slaughtering, by the way. A major part of kashrut is that animals with blemishes are treif (forbidden for human consumption).

In terms of kosher meat and BSE, kashrut depends on a visual standard. This means that no downer animal would ever be slaughtered. But unless you can look at the brain or other organs and see deterioration, I believe there could be a risk with kosher meat as well. I don't know how animals for kosher slaughter are fed and whether they're kept in separate herds. That's something to ask when the Kashrut Q&A takes place.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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The prion theory has achieved dominance of late, but is still a theory. I wonder how history will judge it: brilliant scientific analysis, or our generation's equivalent of phlogiston.

Yes, but according to this website (I haven't read everything, but...) they have already awarded a Nobel prize for the prion theory. That's pretty good evidence that it's beyond phlogiston.

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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Testing or at least inspecting every animal prior to slaughtering would have been a better plan. Oh, did you mean cheaper? :biggrin:

I'm currently searching and haven't found anything helpful yet (darn 28.8 connection at my parents' house), but I would assume that a cranial radiograph of a normal beef animal's brain and a cranial radiograph of one with or close to symptomatic BSE would show a difference. Ergo, X-ray their noggins before they go to the kill floor. A digital x-ray machine and training for a small crew of people at a slaughterhouse/canner house would be my suggestion. In terms of cost per head, I would assume that it would be in the $.05-.20 range for installation, training, and usage over the lifetime of the machine. Even if they go through 1 a year.

That's probably going to be quite cheaper than any other laboratory method, as well as quicker. I would also hedge my bets that it's going to be just about as good.

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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The prion theory has achieved dominance of late, but is still a theory. I wonder how history will judge it: brilliant scientific analysis, or our generation's equivalent of phlogiston.

Yes, but according to this website (I haven't read everything, but...) they have already awarded a Nobel prize for the prion theory. That's pretty good evidence that it's beyond phlogiston.

Mostly this is an illustration of the difference between the scientific and common meanings of the word "theory".

The common meaning is that you, I, or the guy who lives under the overpass may have an original idea about how something comes about, and that all ideas may be considered to be of more or less of equal validity.

What scientists refer to as a "theory" is supported by so much evidence that the term laymen would use is "fact".

Saying that prions do not cause brain disease is "just a theory" is very much like saying that HIV is not caused by the AIDS virus.

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Funny is in the eye of the beholder. I laughed out loud.

Perhaps I should seek immediate counseling :wacko:

:laugh::laugh::laugh:

The line forms for Brooks' counselor. I have tears rolling down my cheeks.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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To quote South Park:

BLAME CANADA!!!

I think you'll see that I predicted Canada would be blamed for this three days ago.

Let's see... The 9-11 terrorists were said to have entered the US through Canada. Whoops! Turns out they didn't!

The grid failure in the northeast was said to have been the fault of someone in Ontario. Whoops! Make that Ohio...

There are enough discrepancies and inconsistencies in the latest "blame Canada" schtick to make it as suspect as past finger pointings.

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Jensen, what did you expect? We have got to blame someone, and if Canada wasn't there to blame, we might have to take responsibility for some of this. I can plainly tell you have not been here long enough-the national pastime is passing the buck. :rolleyes:

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The prion theory has achieved dominance of late, but is still a theory. I wonder how history will judge it: brilliant scientific analysis, or our generation's equivalent of phlogiston.

Yes, but according to this website (I haven't read everything, but...) they have already awarded a Nobel prize for the prion theory. That's pretty good evidence that it's beyond phlogiston.

I'm not sure how the awarding of a Nobel prize is "evidence" in any scientific sense of the word. However, as we discussed earlier in this thread, the award of the Nobel prize to Prusiner for his work on prion theory has been (I think quite compellingly) questioned, most notably by the journalist Gary Taubes. I'll repeat one of those citations here:

"Good science, not just Nobel Prize-caliber science, depends on hypothesis and test, and then the rigorous demonstration that the preferred interpretation of the data was the only interpretation. In other words, remarkable results demand remarkable evidence. In the case of Prusiner's prize, the Nobel Committee has settled for enthusiasm and single-mindedness." --Gary Taubes, writing in Slate, in 1997

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Saying that prions do not cause brain disease is "just a theory" is very much like saying that HIV is not caused by the AIDS virus.

I think it's the other way around, but more to the point this is exactly how defenders of the phlogiston theory spoke back in the day when that was the dominant scientific theory. Nonetheless, theories don't become more or less true just because people want them to be so. The evidence either supports them or it doesn't. Right now, the prion theory is still firmly in the category of theory.

History is full of comic (and tragic) examples of people who insisted that scientific theories were true before they were proven. It's rarely a good bet, whereas insisting on proof when proof is still lacking is simply reasonable.

Phlogiston was not only widespread but deep-seated, and gave way to the atomic theory only slowly.

....

Phlogiston theory was widely supported throughout the eighteenth century, although it came under increasing attack as empirical research pointed up its difficulties. When it was determined that some metals actually gained mass when burnt, partisans explained it by giving phlogiston a negative mass. Even Priestley believed in the theory until his death, convinced that his discovery of oxygen was "dephlogisticated air." It was up to Lavoisier to realize the significance of his discovery.

-- http://www.english.upenn.edu/~jlynch/Frank...exts/phlog.html

The story of the prion is an odd tale for science: a radical assault on conventional biology appears to have triumphed without proof. Prusiner's Nobel is rather like a prize for winning a race before it's over.

-- http://www.findarticles.com/cf_dls/m0FQP/n...cle.jhtml?term=

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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