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Mad Cow Disease


In December 2004 Public Citizen filed a Freedom of Information Act request to the USDA for all noncompliance records related to BSE. Public Citizen received the documents on Aug. 15, 2005.

Click here to read Public Citizen's analysis of the noncompliance records.

The December 23, 2003 discovery of the first case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease, in the United States points to some glaring holes in our food safety system that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has known about for years.  The regulatory changes announced by the USDA since the discovery of the BSE-infected cow in Washington state show some progress, but do not go nearly far enough to protect this country from BSE.

BSE is a brain wasting disease that is believed to be caused by an infectious protein, called a prion.  Prions are very resistant to heat, chemicals and other methods of sterilization.  FOOD IRRADIATION DOES NOT KILL PRIONS.  Prions accumulate in nervous system tissues (brain, spinal cord, eyes) and intestines. The spread of the disease in cattle has been tied to the practice of feeding cattle bone meal and other feed that contains the remains of animals infected with BSE and similar diseases. 

For a good overview of BSE, visit: http://www.avma.org/pubhlth/bse/bse_bgnd.pdf

Hot Issues

» March 3 - Public Citizen applauds Senate passage of resolution blocking Canadian cattle imports

» January 15 - Mad Cow Press Conference materials

» Unanswered Questions about USDA and FDA Efforts on BSE

    » cmep | foodsafety | madcow

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