Mad Cow Disease
The Environment
Human Health
Animal Rights



[Posted 05/24/04]: "Federal Officials Ok Texas Cow Material For Swine Feed:" (05/04/04): "The byproducts of a Texas cow that was destroyed after it showed potential signs of a central nervous disorder must be made into pig feed or be destroyed, the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday. The FDA said it tracked down all the material from the cow that was sent to a processor for rendering into animal feed and other products. All the material is being held by a business that the agency did not name. The government has said that none of it got into the human food supply.

The FDA planned to send a letter to the business saying it "will not object to use of this material in swine feed only" because pigs are not considered susceptible to mad cow disease, one in a family of illnesses known to infect grass-eating animals. If the business agrees to only using the material in swine feed, FDA said it will then track the material through the supply chain from the processor to the farm to ensure that the feed is monitored and fed only to pigs."
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[See also: "The Case of Mad Pigs in the U.S." at:

[Posted 12/28/03]: 12/27/03: "FDA Blasted Over Past Enforcement Of Feed Ban: Long before mad cow disease appeared in Washington, the federal government slammed the Food and Drug Administration for failing to adequately enforce feed regulations, a key piece of the nation's firewall against the disease. On Wednesday, the FDA tried to reassure the public by saying it has "vigorously enforced" a 1997 law that bans the use of meat and bone meal from dead ruminants (cows, sheep and goats) in feed for live ruminants. The agency said more than 99 percent of feed operators are now complying with the law. But in January 2002, the General Accounting Office -- Congress' investigative arm -- criticized the FDA for failing to adequately enforce the feed ban. It said the agency had failed to issue warning letters to violators and inspection records were incomplete, inconsistent, inaccurate and untimely. The FDA's records, investigators said, were "so severely flawed" that they shouldn't be used to assess compliance. "FDA has not placed a priority on oversight of the feed ban," the report said." [Edited from:

[Posted 12/28/03]:
"Meat Groups Protest Proposed FDA Restrictions On Animal Feed:" (02/06/2003): "A coalition of agricultural organizations led by the American Meat Institute (AMI) is arguing that no scientific reason exists for FDA's recent proposed changes to animal feed regulations. In comments filed with FDA recently, the groups said safeguards are already in place to protect the US livestock industry from the threat of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or mad cow disease). AMI has specifically expressed concern over FDA's suggestion that brains and spinal cords from ruminants two years of age and older be excluded from all rendered products. In its comments, AMI said brains and spinal cords produced in the US pose no BSE risk, and any regulations beyond those are already in place would be redundant to existing animal feed regulations and could send the wrong message to other countries. AMI is a national association that represents meat and poultry slaughterers and processors. Its members slaughter more than 90% of the cattle raised in the US and process most of the rendered products produced in the US. If FDA excludes brains and spinal cords from rendered products, it might send an erroneous message that additional control measures are needed because the US is uncertain of its BSE status, AMI said. Their preference would be for achieving better compliance with existing regulations. AMI says no evidence exists that brains, spinal cords or other bovine tissues that are derived from US cattle slaughter operations contain the infective agent that causes BSE. The group also noted that brains and spinal cords are inspected and passed for human consumption by USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service. The American Farm Bureau Federation, American Meat Institute, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council were among the 15 groups that signed the letter."

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[Posted 05/24/04]: "Japan Demands Us Tests All Slaughtered Cows:" (04/26/04): "Japanese Agriculture Minister Yoshiyuki Kamei said last week that Japan was sticking to its demand that the United States check all slaughtered cattle for mad cow disease as a prelude to resuming imports of U.S. beef. "It is important not to harm the confidence of consumers," Kamei told reporters after a Cabinet meeting. So far, Washington has refused Tokyo's demand that all cattle be tested, saying there is no scientific justification for such a costly measure. Japan is normally the top buyer of U.S. beef and the four-month ban has halted purchases that last year amounted to nearly $1.4 billion.

The USDA reiterated this week that it would stand by its decision to prohibit Kansas-based meat packer Creekstone Farms Premium Beef from independently testing for mad cow disease so it could resume sales to Japan."
[Edited from: http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/24876/story.htm

[Posted 05/24/04]: "U.S. Creates Expert Panel To Discuss Testing Methods" (04/26/04): "A former senator is pressing Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman to reconsider her department's refusal to let U.S. beef producers do their own testing for mad cow disease. Nancy Kassebaum Baker, the wife of U.S. ambassador to Japan Howard Baker, said such testing could promote confidence in U.S. beef and help re-establish exports to countries that ban it now. Baker put her viewpoint in a letter to Veneman earlier this month. The Kansas Republican said she was stating her opinion as a private beef producer.

A series of visiting U.S. delegations have failed to persuade Japan's government to lift a ban imposed on American beef imports after a single case of mad cow disease was detected in Washington state in late December. But the two countries agreed to try to narrow their differences by establishing a working group of experts. A Japanese foreign ministry official said the experts will try to establish "common ground" on technical issues. The panel will report by the end of the summer in hopes of resuming trade."
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[Posted 05/24/04]: "USDA Investigating Condemned Texas Cow:" (05/01/04): "The U.S. Department of Agriculture did not test a head of cattle in Texas that displayed central nervous symptoms even though such symptoms could be associated with mad cow disease, USDA officials said on Friday. The department is collecting information on the Texas animal, USDA spokeswoman Alisa Harrison said on Friday, emphasizing there is no evidence yet that the animal may have had mad cow disease.

" We do know that the animal was condemned and it didn't go into the meat supply," Harrison said. Harrison added that early indications were that there "were not any samples taken" from the animal. Asked whether any tissue samples, such as from the animal's brain, were still available for testing, Harrison said, "I do not know." Harrison said federal inspectors in Texas were being interviewed about the condemned animal. "We have to go back and figure out exactly what happened and what the real situation is or isn't," she said.

Beverly Boyd, spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Agriculture, said the condemned carcass in San Angelo was not held back for testing. "There were no tissue samples taken. It was not tested at all," she told Reuters. Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, questioned why USDA may have failed to test the condemned animal. "If they're not testing the cattle most highly recommended for testing, it would appear USDA is not really looking to find the problem where it may exist," DeWaal said."
[Very edited from: http://www.reuters.co.uk/newsPackageArticle.jhtml?type=healthNews&storyID=5005946&section=news

[Posted 05/24/04]: "USDA: Mad Cow Testing Procedure Violated In Texas:" (05/03/04): "The federal government's mad cow testing procedure was violated when a condemned cow in Texas was sent to a rendering plant before tissue samples could be collected for testing, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Monday. A USDA veterinarian at a Lone Star Beef plant in San Angelo, Texas condemned the animal "after observing the cow stagger and fall, indicating either an injury or potentially a central nervous system disorder or other health condition," USDA said.

USDA said no part of the animal, killed on April 27, entered the human food chain. "Standard procedures call for animals condemned due to possible CNS (central nervous system) disorder to be kept" until federal officials collect samples for testing, the USDA said. "However, this did not occur in this case," according to a USDA statement. The statement did not explain why standard procedures were not followed and USDA officials were not immediately available for comment."
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[Posted 05/24/04]: "Texas Mad Cow Breach Not Unique:" (05/05/04): "The recent case of a Texas cow that displayed symptoms consistent with mad cow disease but slipped through the cracks of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's surveillance plan is not an isolated incident, an agency veterinarian and a consumer advocate told United Press International. The revelation that the cow was not tested has generated alarm among the public and Congress, and a USDA veterinarian said cows displaying central nervous system disorders, such as the one in Texas, often are not tested for mad cow -- even though the department considers these animals the most likely to be infected with the disease.

"Sometimes Veterinary Services (the USDA branch responsible for picking up brains for mad cow testing) won't even show up," the veterinarian, who requested anonymity, told UPI. "If you tell them the cow is under 30 months (old), they won't bother with it." The USDA recently announced an expanded mad cow surveillance plan aimed at testing an unspecified number of cows over 30 months old. The agency's position is cows under 30 months are unlikely to test positive, even if infected, because the disease can take several years to incubate. Yet, more than 20 cows under this age have tested positive worldwide, including one as young as 20 months in the United Kingdom.

Felicia Nestor, senior policy adviser to the Government Accountability Project in Washington, a group that works with federal whistleblowers, told UPI she is looking into claims from USDA inspectors there may be other suspicious animals that have gone unreported. "From the evidence we have so far, we know (the Texas case) is not an isolated incident," Nestor said."
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[Posted 05/24/04]: "USDA's Vets & Techs Ordered Not To Test Suspect Cow:" (05/05/04): "It was a trio of Agriculture Department staff - two veterinarians and one technician - who were supposed to follow agency protocol by testing what they determined was an older cow that likely had a central nervous system disorder when it arrived April 27 at the Lone Star Beef plant in San Angelo, Texas. One government source and another within the industry, both of whom say they have firsthand knowledge of events that day, said the final call on not to test the animal was made by an APHIS supervisor in Austin, Texas, after an APHIS technician at the plant advised her supervisor she was preparing to take a tissue sample from the culled animal for BSE testing. Both sources spoke to Meatingplace.com on condition of anonymity, and USDA officials did not return telephone calls Tuesday seeking comment and confirmation of the allegations.

What USDA has confirmed is that the agency's standard operating procedures call for animals condemned due to a possible CNS disorder be kept until APHIS officials can collect samples for testing. That clearly was done in this case. The animal sat for more than 90 minutes and less than two hours after it was condemned, stunned and killed before the APHIS tech told Lone Star Beef management to dispose of the animal "in a routine manner." As a condemned cow, there was never any chance that the meat from the animal would enter the food chain. What is less clear is what went wrong at USDA and why."
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[Posted 05/23/04] "USDA Immediately Stopped Mad Cow Tests At Slaughterhouse Where Disease Was Found:" (02/24/04): "The federal government fell short of its goal for mad-cow tests last year in the Northwest, where the nation's first case of the brain-wasting disease was found just before Christmas. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's surveillance plan said it would take at least 1,205 tests to adequately monitor the five-state area, which includes Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Utah. But the agency collected only 781 samples, less than two-thirds of the target. ... At Vern's Moses Lake Meats, the slaughterhouse where the infected cow was killed, no animals have been tested since Dec. 24, co-owner Tom Ellestad said. "USDA requested us to stop taking samples," he said. Ellestad didn't know why USDA made the request." [Very edited from:

[Posted 05/23/04] "USDA Estimates Mad Cow Test Costs:" (04/07/04): "The U.S. government's plans to make beef safe from mad cow disease could cost the industry up to $150 million a year, the Agriculture Department said Wednesday and indicated it was open to amending the proposed rules. After finding the first and only U.S. case of mad cow disease in December, the USDA issued a series of interim rules to further protect food from the brain-wasting disease. Among the rules imposed in January to prevent the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, was a ban on the use of so-called downer cattle in food. These are animals either too sick or too injured to walk. The USDA also issued stricter measures to ensure tissue from the nervous system, like the spinal cord, do not contaminate meat produced by hydraulic pressure equipment, also known as advanced meat recovery systems. In a report published on Wednesday, the USDA estimated these two regulations would cost the industry up to $150 million annually. "Price impacts are expected to be limited to beef by-products and variety meats which constitute a small share of domestic beef consumption," USDA said. The USDA estimated about 213 million pounds of beef will be affected by the rules annually. Total U.S. beef output this year was pegged at 25.28 billion pounds."
[Edited from the article also containing countries' testing statistics at:

[Posted 05/23/04] "USDA Rejects Independent Mad Cow Testing:" (04/09/04): "The U.S. Agriculture Department will not allow American beef companies to independently test their cattle for mad cow disease to appease Japanese concerns, an agency official said on Friday. The USDA rejected a request by Creekstone Farms Premium Beef to allow 100 percent testing for the brain-wasting disease, a step the privately owned company deemed necessary to resume trade with Japan.

"The use of the test as proposed by Creekstone would have implied a consumer safety aspect that is not scientifically warranted," said USDA Undersecretary Bill Hawks in a statement. The USDA has repeatedly said Japan's demand for 100 percent testing was not scientifically justified. U.S. Vice President Richard Cheney was expected to raise the issue when he visits Japan next week.

Creekstone, which sells 20 percent of its beef to Japan, said it was considering taking legal action against USDA and would make a decision early next week. "We firmly disagree with USDA," said John Stewart, Creekstone's chief executive. The company had already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars building a private laboratory at its Arkansas City, Kansas, beef plant in anticipation of winning government approval. Japan's three-month ban costs Creekstone up to $100,000 daily in lost sales, the company said. About 50 workers have been laid off."
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[Posted 05/23/04] "U.S. Won't Let Company Test All Its Cattle For Mad Cow:" (04/10/04): "The Department of Agriculture refused yesterday to allow a Kansas beef producer to test all of its cattle for mad cow disease, saying such sweeping tests were not scientifically warranted. Lobbying groups for cattle ranchers and slaughterhouses applauded the decision, but consumer advocates denounced it, saying the department was preventing Creekstone from taking extra steps to prove its product was safe. Under the Virus Serum Toxin Act of 1913, the department decides where cattle can be tested and for what.

Consumer groups accused the department of bending to the will of the beef lobby, saying producers do not want the expense of proving that all cattle are safe or the damage to meat sales that would result if more cases of mad cow are found. "It is ironic in the extreme that an administration that's so interested in letting industry come up with its own solutions would come down with a heavy government hand on a company that's being creative," said Dr. Peter Lurie, deputy director of the health research group at Public Citizen, a frequent food industry critic.

The president of the American Meat Institute, which represents slaughterhouses, and the director of regulatory affairs at the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, which represents ranchers, praised the decision. Gary Weber of the cattlemen's association called 100 percent testing misleading to consumers because it would create a false impression that untested beef was not safe. He compared it to demanding that all cars be crash tested to prove they are safe. Asked if beef producers did not want to be pressured to imitate Creekstone and pay for more tests, Mr. Weber said it was "absolutely not about the money."
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[Posted 05/23/04] "Beef Packer To Fight USDA On BSE Testing": (4/12/04): "Creekstone Farms Premium Beef LLC said it will "aggressively challenge USDA's decision" late last week not to allow Creekstone to voluntarily test all the cattle it processes for bovine spongiform encephalopathy. The company said that since it asked USDA Feb. 19 for permission to privately test beef at the company's Arkansas City, Kans., plant, company officials have held "ongoing meetings" with USDA officials but the USDA announcement "came as a surprise to the company."

"We are extremely disappointed but nonetheless relieved to finally have a response from the USDA," said John Stewart, Creekstone chief executive officer, in a company news release. "We now know where USDA stands but are surprised it took them six weeks to respond with a 'no' to our request." Stewart said his company hasn't ruled out legal action as it considers options to challenge USDA's authority. "We have a back-up strategy in place and over the weekend we will be finalizing our plans, which we will unveil early next week," Stewart said in the release.

Creekstone said it has built "one of the best laboratories in the country inside of our processing plant to perform BSE testing," said Steward. "We have the equipment in place and staff trained to perform these tests. The company plans to use a test made by BioRad, a company based in Hercules, Calif., to test the animals; that's the same test the French and Japanes use to test all their animals, said the company."
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[Posted 05/23/04]: "Records Contradict USDA's Mad Cow Decision:" (04/21/04): "A recent U.S. Department of Agriculture decision to block a private company from testing all its cattle under 30 months of age for mad cow disease runs contrary to its own records that show it has tested more than 2,000 animals in that age range, United Press International has learned. In announcing the decision to reject Creekstone's proposal, Bill Hawks, USDA's undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs, said, "There is no scientific justification for 100 percent testing because the disease does not appear in younger animals" under the age of 30 months.

The department's mad cow testing records, however, which were obtained by UPI via the Freedom of Information Act, show over the past two years the agency tested 2,051 animals -- and possibly more -- that were under the age of 30 months. "That's so hypocritical," said Michael Hansen, senior research associate with Consumers Union, the advocacy group in Yonkers, N.Y. "It makes it difficult for the USDA to argue to Creekstone, 'We only test animals above 30 months,' when USDA itself tests animals as young as 3 months old."

Consumers Union, along with 12 other advocacy groups -- including Public Citizen and the Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease Foundation -- sent USDA a letter Monday urging it to reverse its position on the Creekstone proposal, as well as to expand its surveillance program to include animals under 30 months old. Hansen said he would like to see the testing program amended to include animals as young as 20 months because infected animals of that age have been detected in Japan and two animals under the age of 30 months have tested positive for mad cow in Europe."
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[Posted 04/29/04]: "Bill: Mad Cow Tests For All State's Cattle: (03/28/04): "A week after federal officials announced plans to increase testing for mad cow disease, two California legislators introduced a bill to require all cattle in the state to be tested for the disease. If passed, SB 1425 could pit California against the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is considering whether to allow anyone other than its scientists to test for mad cow, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE.

The California Cattlemen's Association on Thursday denounced the bill as overreacting to the Washington case. "There is absolutely no scientific basis for testing each and every animal in this state," said association president Darrel Sweet. "Any California-specific testing program for BSE is unnecessary, impractical, would place California's ranchers at a serious competitive disadvantage to less-regulated regions, and may be in violation of federal law." The USDA has maintained that it is the only agency that can legally purchase or authorize the sale and administration of mad cow test kits."
[Very edited from: http://www.contracostatimes.com/mld/cctimes/news/8297336.htm

[Posted 04/29/04]: "USDA's Top Official On Mad Cow Testing Resigns: (03/23/04): "The U.S. official responsible for the nation's mad cow testing program is resigning, the Agriculture Department confirmed Tuesday. Bobby Acord, administrator of the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), is stepping down for personal reasons, spokeswoman Courtney Billet told MSNBC. "He has decided to retire," Billet said. "He has been taking care of his mom and he also has been responsible for an elderly aunt in West Virginia."

Acord has been a vocal critic of expanded testing for bovine spongiform encephalopathy ... in early March, several House members were frustrated by Acord's responses to their questions during panel testimony about testing for mad cow disease. "It's really like pulling teeth or worse trying to get the right kind of information out of these people," Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., told MSNBC on Tuesday. Of Acord's retirement, Hinchey said, "It's not shocking, but you wonder why he would select this particular moment.""
[Very edited from: http://www.organicconsumers.org/madcow/resign032604.cfm

[Posted 04/29/04]: "USDA Certifies Bio-rad Test For Mad Cow Disease: (03/18/04): "The U.S. Agriculture Department on Thursday approved the first rapid tests for detecting mad cow disease in cattle, allowing officials to determine within hours if a cow is infected. Bio-Rad Inc. said its tests will be used by about 25 state and federal laboratories that are working to determine whether the animal brain-wasting disease has taken hold in the U.S. cattle population.

The USDA on Monday announced a one-year program to test as many "high risk" cattle as possible for mad cow disease, boosting its surveillance after finding the first and only U.S. case in December. Under the federal program, the USDA said testing 268,000 cattle per year would allow inspectors to be 99 percent confident that if there was one case of mad cow disease among 10 million cattle, it could be identified."
[Edited from: http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=healthNews&storyID=4601244

[Posted 04/28/04]: "Obstructing Mad Cow Testing By Beef Producers In The U.S.: (03/09/04): "The USDA, which conducts only limited testing on its own, doesn't allow private testing for the fatal brain-wasting disease in cattle, in part because officials worry that potential marketing for tested meat would confuse consumers. Federal officials also say they fear that private laboratories would report false positives, upsetting overseas customers and causing cattle prices to crash. By keeping mad-cow testing within USDA walls, officials argue, the government can confirm test results before they become public.

Creekstone Farms Premium Beef LLC, a meatpacker that slaughters cattle at a plant in Arkansas City, Kan., in February said it would build its own mad-cow testing laboratory -- an announcement that prompted a USDA warning that anyone testing without its approval could face criminal charges. The mad-cow discovery spotlights whether shoppers should be able to verify the safety of their food however they want, particularly if the government won't do it for them. The dispute pits consumer advocates and some beef entrepreneurs against the USDA and big-beef interests.

The only laboratory in the nation testing for mad-cow disease is the USDA facility in Ames, Iowa. Scientists there analyze the samples collected for a federal mad-cow surveillance program that last year screened one out of every 1,700 cattle slaughtered in the U.S. Testing for mad-cow disease is getting easy enough for many private labs to do. Four testing firms make rapid diagnostic kits that can tell, in a matter of several hours, whether a dead cow was infected. They're widely used in Japan and in the European Union."
[Very edited from: http://www.organicconsumers.org/madcow/testing031104.cfm
[See: "USDA Threatens Beef Company Planning to Test All Cows for Mad Cow Disease:" http://www.organicconsumers.org/madcow/mad-cow-usda.cfm

[Posted 04/28/04]: "State Looks To Test Beef: Lawmakers Hope To Soften Foreign Ban: (03/12/04): "Worried that a foreign embargo on U.S. beef will ruin the state's cattle industry, state lawmakers may soon introduce legislation to make California the first state to set broader and faster testing for mad cow disease. More than 50 countries have banned U.S. beef since a mad cow case was found in Washington state, lopping $3.86 billion in annual export sales from the $40 billion U.S. beef industry, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

The mere whiff of tougher, decentralized mad cow testing is drawing fire from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and some in the beef industry. Both caution that such a move would be a potentially disastrous overreaction to the lone U.S. case detected in December. The USDA has so far refused the request and cautioned that testing without its approval - or even selling test kits - is against federal law.

However, officials in Japan, the country's largest beef export market, are quietly encouraging wider testing. Japan spent $1.4 billion on U.S. beef last year - 10 percent of foreign beef sales - until it closed its ports to the meat in December after a Holstein was found with mad cow disease. Japan wants U.S. beef imports to meet the same standards it has for Japanese beef: tests of all cattle at slaughter and incineration of all "at-risk materials" - the brain, spinal cord and intestines that are known to harbor the agent that triggers the disease."
[Very edited from: http://www.sacbee.com/content/politics/story/8491725p-9420617c.html

[Posted 01/27/04]: (12/29/03): "Mad Cow: USDA Urged To Deploy Rapid Test: Critics charge the USDA's system, because it tests so few animals, makes it unlikely more mad cow cases will be detected. Concerns about the possible financial impact on the U.S. beef industry is driving the USDA's reluctance to implement the rapid test, said Howard Lyman, a former rancher turned vegetarian. "I would bet everything I hold sacred if we went out and tested 5 million mature and downer cattle (in the United States) we would find (more) animals infected with (mad cow disease)," he told UPI. Both a former USDA veterinarian and a current USDA veterinarian echoed Lyman's comments."
[Very edited from an excellent, detailed article at:

[Posted 01/27/04]: (12/26/03): "USDA Weighs More, Faster Mad Cow Tests: [USDA] officials declined to say exactly what they would recommend, but they acknowledged that European and Japanese regulators screen millions of animals using tests that take only three hours -- fast enough to stop diseased carcasses from being cut up for food. American inspectors have tested fewer than 30,000 of the roughly 300 million animals slaughtered in the last nine years, and they get results days or weeks later. But the American system was never intended to keep sick animals from reaching the public's refrigerators, said Dr. Ron DeHaven, the Agriculture Department's chief veterinarian. It is "a surveillance system, not a food-safety test," he said."
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[Posted 01/27/04]: (12/24/03): : "Laboratory Backlog Delayed USDA Test For Mad Cow: A tissue sample from a Washington state dairy cow sat in a federal laboratory for a week before it was tested and diagnosed as mad cow disease because of a backlog of samples, the U.S. Agriculture Department said on Wednesday. The USDA defended the length of time it took to diagnose the disease. Despite the existence of mad cow tests that take only a few hours, the USDA uses a diagnostic test that can take as long as five days to complete."
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[Posted 01/27/04]: (01/15/04): UPI EXCLUSIVE: "No Mad Cow Tests In Wash.: Federal agriculture officials did not test any commercial cattle for mad cow disease through the first seven months of 2003 in Washington state -- where the first U.S. case of the disease was detected last month -- according to records obtained by United Press International. In addition, no mad cow tests were conducted during the two-year period at any of the six federally registered slaughterhouses in Washington state. The testing records, obtained by UPI under the Freedom of Information Act, which the USDA delayed releasing for six months, also show a number of other gaps in the agency's national surveillance strategy for mad cow disease, including:

-- Tests were conducted at fewer than 100 of the 700 plants known to slaughter cattle. -- Some of the biggest slaughterhouses were not tested at all. -- Cows from the top four beef producing states, which account for nearly 70 percent of all cattle slaughtered each year in the United States, only accounted for 11 percent of all the animals screened. -- Though dairy cattle are considered the most likely to develop mad cow, some of the top dairy slaughtering plants were sampled only a few times or not at all. -- The test tally for 2003 includes more than 1,000 animals ages 24 months or less, which would not test positive for the disease on the test used by the USDA even if they were infected. Many of these animals displayed signs that could indicate mad cow disease, including being downers or unable to stand, and symptoms suggesting a possible brain disorder.

The records show after May and through July, however, no commercial cows in Washington state were tested. "It's right near Alberta ... and everybody knows a lot of cattle cross over the border from Canada into the United States," Nestor [Government Accountability Project] told UPI. Approximately 1.7 million Canadian cattle entered the United States in 2002. The USDA withheld the results for the tests conducted in 2003 in the documents it provided to UPI, but it said all were negative for mad cow.
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[Posted 01/10/04]: "France tested over 75,000 cattle a week (on an average) in January 2001, compared to the U.S.'s 57,000 in the entire 13 year history of the U.S. testing program (as of September 30, 2003)"

[Posted 12/28/03]: 12/26/03, by Donald G. Mcneil Jr., NY Times: ""USDA Weighs More, Faster Mad Cow Tests - Europe, Japan Test Millions Each Year, Get Results In Hours: As the American beef industry struggles with its first case of mad cow disease, the Department of Agriculture is debating whether to do far more screening of meat and change the way meat from suspect animals is used, department officials say. The officials declined to say exactly what they would recommend, but they acknowledged that European and Japanese regulators screen millions of animals using tests that take only three hours -- fast enough to stop diseased carcasses from being cut up for food. American inspectors have tested fewer than 30,000 of the roughly 300 million animals slaughtered in the last nine years, and they get results days or weeks later. But the American system was never intended to keep sick animals from reaching the public's refrigerators, said Dr. Ron DeHaven, the Agriculture Department's chief veterinarian. It is "a surveillance system, not a food-safety test," he said in an interview. Statistically, it is meant only to assure finding the disease if it exists in one in 1 million animals, and only after slaughter." [Edited from:

[Posted 12/28/03]: 12/25/03: Kyodo News: "35% of AMR Meat Samples Found To Have Unacceptable Tissues: An agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture pointed out in its February report that about 35% of samples from advanced meat and bone separation machinery had ''unacceptable nervous tissues'' detected, Kyodo News learned Thursday. In addition, 29% and 10% of the samples had spinal cord tissue and dorsal nerve root ganglia tissue detected, respectively, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said. The FSIS compiled the report on the machine, commonly called Advanced Meat Recovery (AMR) systems, based on a survey it conducted from the middle of January until the end of August in 2002. It conducted the survey in response to concerns raised by consumer group and industry representatives about the risk to human health from consumption of bovine spinal cord due to a possible link between mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), and variant Creutzfeld-Jakob (vCJD) disease in humans." [Edited from:
[The FSIS Study:

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[Posted 04/29/04]: "Wash State Cattle Industry Faces Carcass Disposal Quandary: (03/15/04): "A single case of mad cow disease has cast a shadow of toxic uncertainty over cattle carcasses, creating ground pollution concerns and increasing disposal costs. The December discovery of an infected Washington state Holstein eliminated export markets for beef and caused a pile-up of cattle byproducts made by renderers. That has decreased renderers' demand and left dairy farmers looking for new places -- such as landfills and compost piles -- to send carcasses [estimated at 2 billion pounds of cattle annually]. In some cases, they are choosing to save money by burying cattle on the farm.

The health consequences are unknown. No one understands the potential risks of ground water or crop compost contamination from decomposing cattle -- and possibly mad cow's brain-destroying proteins. Until government agencies set rules to protect public health, compost is piling up, and many landfills are refusing to accept cattle carcasses. Research indicates that incineration at extremely high temperatures is necessary to destroy prions, and even that may not work."
[Very edited from: http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/business/national/8191544.htm

[Posted 12/28/03]: 12/27/03: "Cow Parts Used In Candles, Soaps Recalled: Cow parts -- including hooves, bones, fat and innards -- are used in everything from hand cream and antifreeze, to poultry feed and gardening soils. In the next tangled phase of the mad cow investigation, federal inspectors are concentrating on byproducts from the tainted Holstein, which might have gone to a half-dozen distributors in the Northwest, said Dalton Hobbs, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Agriculture. Now, it's the secondary parts -- the raw material for soil, soaps, candles -- that are being recalled. Los Angeles-based Baker Commodities, Inc., announced Friday it has voluntarily withheld 800 tons of cow byproduct processed in its Seattle and Tacoma, Wash., plants, said company spokesman Ray Kelly. The company, like other "renderers," takes what is left of the cow after it is slaughtered and boils it down into tallow, used for candles, lubricants and soaps, and bone meal used in fertilizer and animal feed." [Edited from:

[Posted 12/28/03]: "Animal Rendering Products In More Places Than You Think: You'll Be Surprised To Learn What Goes Into Film, Glue & Crayons:" (by Renea Mohammed, The Vancouver Humane Society Newsletter Summer 2003): "Human food is not the only "product" derived from the bodies of factory farmed and other animals. Animals or their parts not considered suitable for the dinner table are typically sent to rendering plants. Rendering plants take in a wide variety of source materials that include parts such as brains, eyeballs, spinal cords, intestines, bones, feathers or hooves as well as restaurant grease, supermarket rejects such as spoiled steak, road kill and in some areas euthanized cats and dogs from veterinarians and animal shelters. Such source materials are processed at the rendering plant into ingredients used in a number of products that many people do not associate with animals. Such products include soap, toothpaste, mouthwash, hair dyes, nail polish, photographic film, crayons, glue, solvents, shoe polish, toys, anti-freeze, ornaments, pharmaceutical products and cosmetics (including those not tested on animals). There have been some health concerns associated with the rendering industry. Perhaps the best known of these is Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy or mad cow disease."
  • "A Look Inside a Rendering Plant" (by GS): "Rendering has been called "the silent industry." Each year in the US, 286 rendering plants quietly dispose of more than 12.5 million tons of dead animals, fat and meat wastes. As the public relations watchdog newsletter PR Watch observes, renderers "are thankful that most people remain blissfully unaware of their existence."
  • "Food not Fit for a Pet" (by Dr. Wendell O. Belfield): "Some of these dead pets -- those euthanized by veterinarians -- already contain pentobarbital before treatment with the denaturing process. According to University of Minnesota researchers, the sodium pentobarbital used to euthanize pets "survives rendering without undergoing degradation." [Short, but powerful article by an expert]
  • "Mad cow outbreak may have been caused by animal rendering plants" (NY Times News Service): "Renderers in the United States pick up 100 million pounds of waste material every day -- a witch's brew of feet, heads, stomachs, intestines, hooves, spinal cords, tails, grease, feathers and bones. Half of every butchered cow and a third of every pig is not consumed by humans. An estimated six million to seven million dogs and cats are killed in animal shelters each year, said Jeff Frace, a spokesman for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in New York City."
  • "Rendering: the "Invisible Industry" Gets a Green Facelift" (PR Watch): "In 1990, the 20th anniversary of Earth Day, CMF&Z deployed a greenwashing theme to portray the renderer as "socially responsible" and "dedicated to environmental responsiveness."
  • "The Rendering Industry: Big Business in By-Products" (by Kieran Mulvaney): "Processed cow fats are sometimes used to make cookies and salty snacks taste rich and to make lipsticks glide smoothly. Cow proteins show up in shampoo. Collagen, extracted from the inner layer of cattle hide, is used to balm wounds and cosmetically puff up lips. Gelatin, refined from cattle hide and bones, is found in such foods as ice cream, gummy candies and marshmallows--as well as the capsules encasing drugs."
  • "How Dead Pets, Bad Brains, and Free Speech Landed Me in Amarillo" (by Van Smith): "We were at once aghast, amused, and skeptical. "No, really, it's true," they said blandly, sensing our doubts. "We pick up dead pets from the SPCA and take them to the plant. The plant cooks up the carcasses and other things to make stuff that goes into pet food. Honest."
  • "Beauty, Pride and Pig Grease" (by Sandi Mitchell): "The great majority of the product is sold for women's makeup, especially to manufacturers of lipstick and eye makeup. Some of the most prestigious cosmetic companies in the country are the chief customers of rendering plants."
  • "On Rendering" (from the UK BSE Inquiry Report)
  • "The NRA [National Renders Association] is an American Trade Association, whose business is to promote the interests of it's members. Members of this association are all in the business of rendering, i.e. transforming waste from the meat industry into useable products for animal feeds and technical use."
  • "Render Magazine: The rendering industry processes or "recycles" animal by-products such as animal fat, bone, hide, offal, feathers, and blood into beneficial commodities including tallow, grease, and protein meals."
  • PDF file of US Renderers (location, contact info, etc.)