A federal appeals court says the government can prohibit meat packers from testing their animals for mad cow disease.

Because the Agriculture Department tests only a small percentage of cows for the deadly disease, Kansas meatpacker Creekstone Farms Premium Beef wants to test all of its cows. The government says it can’t.

Larger meat companies worry that if Creekstone is allowed to perform the test and advertise its meat as safe, they could be forced to do the expensive test, too.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Friday overturned a lower court ruling that would have cleared the way for the testing. The appeals court said restricting the test is within the scope of the government’s authority.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2008-08-29-mad-cow_N.htm?csp=34

Madrid-Spanish health authorities are investigating the death of a woman whose son died earlier this year of the variant of the Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) linked to the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or mad cow disease, experts said Wednesday in Madrid.

If it is confirmed that the woman and her son died from the same cause, they would be the first members of the same family in the world to succumb to the CJD variant, neuropathologist Alberto Rabano said.

The woman, 64, passed away last week in the northern city of Leon. The son, 41, died in February. Their identities were not given.

The woman suffered from a neurological disease. Laboratory tests to determine the nature of the disease were expected to take a month.

Veterinary experts believe the son caught the disease by eating infected meat before 2001, when preventative measures were adopted.

If laboratory tests confirm the woman had Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), the human variant of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or mad cow disease, it will be the fourth death from the disease in Spain.

http://www.medindia.net/news/Spain-Awaits-Lab-Result-to-Confirm-Fourth-Mad-Cow-Disease-Case-41110-1.htm, http://www.monstersandcritics.com
http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5j8g4ED89khVw3PN7Gi95ij7xjm7Q

Mexico is banning cattle from Alberta from crossing its border until officials find out more about what Canada is doing to prevent mad cow disease.

The move comes after Canada found its 14th case of mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, in a six-year-old cow last week in Alberta, the largest cattle-producing province.

Mexico did not ban imports of Canadian beef, Toews said, although it permits shipments of meat only from animals under the age of 30 months. Mexico is Canada’s second-largest export market for beef after the United States.

Canada’s export-dependent cattle sector is still trying to recover from the discovery of mad cow disease within its borders in 2003, which sparked trade bans with major buyers.

http://www.canada.com/saskatoonstarphoenix/news/business/story.html?id=4f057570-3d7a-4c8c-85e3-fcf1f16b5fcb, http://www.grainews.ca/issues/ISArticle.asp?id=88574&PC=FBC&issue=08222008

Canada confirmed a case of mad cow disease in a six-year-old beef cow on Friday, marking the 14th instance of the disease since the country’s first case in 2003.

Ruminant-to-ruminant feeding (meaning cows being fed leftover cow meat, something they would never choose to eat) has been blamed for the arrival of BSE in Canada, assuming a BSE-infected and rendered animal entered the cattle feed supply before the feed ban took effect.

In June, a five year old dairy cow was confirmed as Canada’s 13th BSE case and was very likely exposed to “a very low amount of infective material, probably during its first year of life.”

There was no risk to public health because no part of the animal entered the human food systems, the Canadian Food inspection agency said.

The agency said it is tracing other cattle in the herd and trying to determine how the cow became infected. The new case should not affect exports of Canadian cattle or beef, the agency said.

Mad cow disease, medically known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, causes spongy holes in the brain. Among humans, a rare but fatal form of the disease called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease has been linked to eating infected tissue from cows.

The agency has said a ban on using animal materials in feed products has virtually eliminated the spread of BSE in Canada, but it said a small number of cases are still expected to surface.

http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D92IVVM80.htm, http://www.country-guide.ca/West/issues/ISArticle.asp?id=88318&PC=FBC&issue=08152008

The first test for instantly detecting beef that’s been contaminated with tissue from a cow’s brain or spinal cord during slaughter has been developed by U.S. researchers. They said the test is an advance in efforts to protect the human food chain from bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or “mad cow disease.”

The removal of brain, spinal and other central nervous system tissue after slaughter is “one of the highest priority tasks to avoid contamination of the human food chain with bovine spongiform encephalopathy,” noted Jurgen A. Richt and colleagues at Iowa State University and the National Animal Disease Center of the USDA-Agricultural Research Service.

However, there is no currently available method that “enables the real-time detection of possible central nervous system (CNS) tissue contamination on carcasses during slaughter,” the researchers said in an American Chemical Society news release. Read the rest of this entry »

A new European study, published by the Food Commission, claims that the heavy use of antibiotics in livestock farming is the cause of many superbugs, including salmonella, campylobacter and E.coli.

The problem is highlighted in the study by organic farming expert and policy adviser to the Soil Association, Richard Young. Read the rest of this entry »

Massive quantities of antibiotics are used in animal agriculture, contributing to the development and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that increasingly threaten human health. An estimated 55-70% of the antibiotics used in the United States each year are used as feed additives for chickens, hogs, and beef cattle not to treat disease, but rather to promote growth and to compensate for crowded, stressful, and often unhygienic conditions on industrial-scale farms.

Many of the drugs used for these “nontherapeutic” purposes are identical or related to those used in human medicine, but their use as feed additives requires no prescription. Growing evidence links use of these antibiotic feed additives to the development and spread of resistant bacteria in our food supply and environment, making it harder for physicians to treat people suffering from bacterial disease.

Antibiotic resistance is a serious public-health problem; the U.S. Centers for Disease Control regards it as one of the agency’s “top concerns.” The National Academy of Sciences estimates that antibiotic-resistant bacteria generate a minimum of $4 billion to $5 billion in costs to U.S. society and individuals yearly.

http://www.edf.org/article.cfm?ContentID=4154

It’s Sunday, a day of rest, a day when I traditionally try to stay away from posting anything too depressing. It hasn’t been easy lately. When it comes to our government and our food supply there is a far greater stream of not-so-good news. It often makes me wonder just what God (or Mother Nature) must be thinking. But today I give thanks for people like Don Bustos.

Don lives and farms in northern New Mexico’s Espanola Valley. His land has been passed down from his Spanish ancestors who tilled the same soil centuries before. He went organic 15 years ago when he realized the traditional farming techniques he was using could harm his children’s health. But now, Bustos has found an even safer method — vegan organic farming without any animal fertilizers or byproducts. Read the rest of this entry »

More bad meat

July 8, 2008

The USDA’s monthly Livestock Slaughter report shows May was another record-setting month for meat production. U.S. commercial meat production totaled 4.22 billion pounds in May, up 4 percent from the 4.08 billion pounds produced in 2007.

Pork production totaled 1.82 billion pounds, up 3 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 9.06 million head, up 3 percent from May 2007. The average live weight was down 1 pound from the previous year, at 268 pounds. Beef production, at 2.38 billion pounds, was 4 percent higher than last year. Cattle slaughter totaled 3.14 million head, up 3 percent from May 2007.

From January to May, commercial meat production was 21.0 billion pounds, up 7 percent from 2007. Accumulated pork production was up 11 percent, and beef production was up 4 percent.

Cows, pigs and chickens aren’t raised in pretty green meadows. They’re raised in crowded, unfavorable conditions and, especially in the case with dairy cows, are injected with growth hormones. Read the rest of this entry »

Do you drink milk? Do you give milk to your kids? Then you need to know about rBGH. Otherwise known as “crack for cows,” it has devastating health effects on consumers, including cancer.

Milk from rBGH-treated cows has much higher levels of IGF-1, a hormone considered to be a high risk factor for breast, prostate, colon, lung, and other cancers. IGF-1 levels in milk from treated cows with rBGH can be up to 10 times higher. Studies suggest that pre-menopausal women below 50 years old with high levels of IGF-1 are seven times more likely to develop breast cancer. Men are four times more likely to develop prostate cancer. IGF-1 is implicated in lung and colon cancer. Read the rest of this entry »