There has been a lot of media attention on the recent discovery in California of a case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE).
BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) is a progressive neurological and eventually fatal disease of cattle; its symptoms are similar to a disease of sheep, called scrapie. BSE has been called “mad cow disease.” Scientists say the disease is spread through feed that contains brain or spinal cord tissue from infected animals. People can get it from eating products containing such tissues, including head cheese. However, since 1997, feed made from mammals has been banned from cattle rations, and high-risk materials such as brains have been kept from the human food supply, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
This recent case is not typical. It was found in an older animal and it was never destined to be part of the human food chain. The California cow tested positive for so-called atypical BSE, which the Agriculture Department said isn’t generally associated with an animal consuming infected feed. Such cases can occur spontaneously in older animals, according to the department. There have been many criticisms about how the FDA handled the communication of this particular discovery, but the main point here is that the system worked.
Once again, we remind our readers to do their own research and examine all sides of the issue before forming their own opinion, instead of accepting the media hype and adding to the rumor mill, which tends to blow everything out of proportion. Let’s not propagate more uninformed doomsday panic like we had with LFTB (aka “pink slime”).
For those interested, following are links to news stories, editorials, and opinions from various sides of the issue, to help you develop an informed and intelligent perspective. – ed.