The key words that everybody should be focusing on is the “possible” contamination of the beef. The reality of the situation is contamination of the beef is small at best, but the US government stepped in when they found the beef had been slaughtered in a way which violated the protocol meant to prevent mad cow disease from occurring. In fact, The USDA has classified this as a Type 2 recall which is meant to signify what occurred presents a “remote possibility” of health problems to people who may have consumed the meat.
The cows themselves showed no sign of having the disease when slaughtered. The issue was the age of the cows when they were slaughtered, and special regulations which must be adhered to when a cow is 30 months or older. According to the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), the cow’s root ganglia (part of the spine) may not have been removed as dictated by the special regulations which requires it to fully be removed in cattle older than 30 months during processing. Consumption of spinal tissue by humans is considered to be a rick factor in the transmission of BSE.
Fruitland America has stated the processed meat was correctly slaughtered because the cows in question were actually no more than 28 old, and the entire issue is due to clerical errors. In a news release, the USDA has said, “The problem was discovered by FSIS during a review of company slaughter logs. The problem may have occurred as a result of the way some company employees were recording information and determining the age of various cattle.”
What this all says is that the process put in place to prevent mad cow disease from spreading in the US, and the checks to make sure these processes are being followed are working. Instead of being something to worry about, it should put people’s mind at ease that the system is working the way it’s supposed to be working. The recall was implemented on the side caution, and that’s exactly the type of monitoring we want to see.
While there’s really no reason for anyone to be worried about this, for those who still feel unease with this latest episode, and the possibility of getting mad cow disease in general, the best course of action is to stop eating beef. Recent studies have indicated this can be beneficial to women’s health, and it could also be beneficial to your grocery budget. Beef prices are currently at a 27 year high, and there is little prospect that they will fall in the near future. Substituting beef with other sources of protein (fish, poultry, etc.) will help ease your mind and your food budget at the same time.
(Photo courtesy of USDA)