Repeat after me, “I will not eat beef, I will not eat beef, I will not eat  beef”…

If millions and millions of pounds of contaminated ground beef and the threat of Ecoli isn’t enough to make you think twice before you grab just any burger, savor the thought of contracting variant CJV or mad cow disease.

Despite persistent fears that mad cow disease has been found and could still exist in Canadian beef, the Department of Agriculture has failed to properly track hundreds of Canadian cattle coming into the United States.

An audit, completed in March but only recently made public, said that some of the imported cattle did not have proper identification or health records despite federal regulations requiring them.

The audit did not say how many cattle were improperly brought into the U.S. and inspector general spokesman Paul Feeney said auditors are not sure of that number. The report said that a lack of records meant that “it cannot be determined” whether shipments other than those discovered “have bypassed inspection or whether this is a systemic problem.”

About 1 million cattle were imported into the U.S. from Canada in the fiscal year ending in September 2006, the period covered by the audit.

The audit mainly faulted Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service for failing to properly check records as the cattle crossed the Canadian border.

“APHIS does not adequately track live animal imports and, if problems are detected, does not collectively analyze import violations,” the report said. “Additional controls are needed at northern ports-of-entry to obtain stronger assurance that all animal shipments are inspected.”

Mad cow, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, is a disease that attacks a cow’s nervous system. Medical researchers also believe that humans who eat meat infected with BSE can contract a variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), which is fatal. Read the rest of this entry »

Regarding today’s USDA beef recall and the serious health risks associated with processing “downer cows,” Dr. Richard Raymond, under secretary for the Office of Food Safety in a “Technical Briefing” responds:

“In July of 2007 the Food Safety and Inspection Service did issue a final rule called Prohibition of the Use of Specified Risk Materials for Human Food and Requirements for the Disposition of Nonambulatory Disabled Cattle.

This rule states very clearly that nonambulatory disabled cattle are not allowed in the food supply and would not pass ante mortem inspection. Read the rest of this entry »