01.Mad cows - US vs Australia
The infection of a single dairy cow with an atypical strain of mad cow disease in California has set off alarm bells in the US and has encouraged the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports to make a renewed call for stricter regulations to ensure consumer safety.
Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) – more commonly known as mad cow disease – is a degenerative brain disease caused when cattle are fed the remains of other cattle in the form of meat or bone meal.
Thousands of cows contracted BSE this way during the UK epidemic in the 1980s and 1990s, but US authorities claim this case was caused by a rare genetic mutation and was not contagious. Nevertheless, Consumers Union says it is a “warning flag” that illuminates the inadequacies of feeding regulations and the current testing program. The US Department of Agriculture test only 40,000 of the 35 million cattle slaughtered annually – just 0.1%.
Feeding regulations in the United States allow cattle to be fed chicken coop floor waste from chickens that have been previously fed beef waste. The Consumers Union has called for such methods to be banned, urging the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to stop “turning cows into cannibals – the practice that started the mad cow problem in the first place”.
While Australian consumers need not worry about such practices (they're banned under domestic law), CHOICE believe this case highlights the need for us to maintain our strict regulations concerning what our animals are fed.
In a statement released on Friday, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) stated that Australia does not currently import beef or beef products for human consumption from the United States.
“Australia has strict biosecurity conditions in place that minimise the risk of such harmful diseases entering the country and before any nation can export beef to Australia it must undergo a rigorous risk assessment and food safety assessment,” said the spokesperson.
For more News, see Consumer news.