Government bans sick cattle from food chain
From now on, any cattle that cannot walk will no longer be eaten by Americans without being checked first for BSE. If they have some other disease, then, one assumes, Americans will continue to eat them. This, I suppose, counts as progress...
In the news today is the declaration by the American agriculture secretary that from now on Americans will no longer by processing so called 'downer cattle' and introducing them into the food chain.
"U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman announced Tuesday so-called "downer" cattle -- sick or injured animals unable to walk on their own -- will be banned from human consumption as part of sweeping changes to the U.S. beef industry.
"Effective immediately the USDA will ban all downer cattle from the human food chain," Veneman told a Washington press conference."
Apparently what has happened previously is that cattle that were sickly or could not walk, and thus no doubt had to be dragged by their hooves into the slaughtering plants, were processed through the system. Up to the present time the American meat packing system includes a very small amount of testing for BSE, amounting to a little over a thousand animals a year in total tested to generate a 'statistical sample', and so what this means is that downer cattle had previously been processed through the system and then eaten by people without testing being done in many cases. The idea that sick, diseased, staggering cattle, some of which cannot even walk are routinely processed into steaks and roasts, as well as being mixed in with weiners and hamburger by American beef processing facilities is disturbing enough in itself. You know before beef became a high speed, assembly line multi-billion dollar big, big business, it might have been the case that processors would just skip the sickly, pus infected cow, and just process the healthier looking cows, but according to stories that I read yesterday, even those cows with pussy sores get run through the machinery (apparently at such a high rate of speed that employees at the plants are being forced to piss their pants on the job so as not to miss a beat or cost the company even so much as a dime in lost proftis).
So we can say one thing immediately, and that is that there is one positive development in the BSE case so far, and that is that Americans will no longer being eating hot dogs or burgers that are made from cattle so sickly they can't walk, a reasonable precaution in the age of BSE, although there still remains the problem of processing meat which also contains cattle puss and feces, that puss and those feces being responsible for the frequent e-coli recalls of beef in modern times. The industry would rather than people handle the puss and feces in their meat products by 'cleaning their counters with disinfectants' and 'cooking the puss and feces thoroughly' (once again according to a story I read yesterday), and the reason for this focus on what the big beef multinationals call 'consumer safety' is that just changing the way they do things to keep sickly staggering puss infected animals off the processing lines would cost these multinationals money, whereas wiping your kitchen counter will cost you money, thus the shift in focus.
The second thing we can discern from this recent event is that while it would be expected that many BSE infected cattle simply disappear into a grave dug for them out on the ranch (as Alberta's premier Ralph Klein described the actual mad cow policy in North America, in a speech to some American ranchers, 'self respecting ranchers' handle BSE by using the technique he described as 'shoot, shovel, and shut up.' Needless to say his remarks were not intended for the general public, but rather for the beef industry which understands perfectly well what he meant. What we can gather from recent events is that in the case of aging cattle, old enough to shows signs of BSE infection the cows get buried out on the ranch, and given how strict reporting is not required for BSE, burying the mad cow secretly is legal. However we also know, based on this most recent event, that if a mad cow should make it to the processing plant of big beef, it will get dragged into that place by its hooves and processed into steak tartar, as well as being added into the weiner and sausage mix, and then shipped off and eaten by lots of people at such a swift pace that the workers are forced to piss their pants on the plant floor whipping that mad cow through the machinary, and that cow's worst parts will also be stirred in with the rendered waste parts from all the other cows and then turned into hundreds, perhaps thousands of products people use every day. This will be a done deed before after many weeks, in the rare case, it will be found to have been a BSE cow.
So what this means is as follows : since the average life span of today's corporate cow is about two or three years, and BSE does not display in older cows typically before 5 years of age, people generally eat the young BSE cow and are none the wiser. The older BSE cows are either shot and buried on the ranch, and thanks to lax regulations, kept secret which is not only not illegal, but actually encouraged by the government, so as to maintain the official propaganda line (we don't have any mad cows reported here, which isn't surprising). Failing this, if the mad cow gets sent to the plant, along with all the other sick, staggering cows American plants process every year, well then it will get sent speeding through those machines at about a hundred miles an hour, ground in weiners in big vats along with all the other less desirable parts of hundreds of other cows and then shipped and probably eaten in a matter of days. So we also eat mad cows, but only if the cow winds up getting shipped out, since up to today it has been, for years and years, official government policy that allowed really large, rich, multinational cow packing plants to process any animal they could drag into the building, assuming it couldn't walk on its own. So we can assume that given how Americans have already eaten this most recent mad cow, it is probably the case that they ate a few before this time as well, and it was just the case that no one ever knew.
There are a large number of stories coming out in the press this morning which repeat the official American propaganda line when it comes to BSE. Nost include in the title 'America's single mad cow' or 'the only case of BSE ever to be found in America.' There is a desperate drive on now to blame the mad cow on Canada, thus salvaging the propaganda line that 'America has never had a reported case of BSE.'
Given that the fast food business is about one hundred billion dollars a year itself, and the other billions and billions tied up in that multi-trillion dollar cow, I don't believe anything I hear these days. Its all just to fabulously rich, not to mention to penny pinching and greedy, there is just to much money involved, to believe a single word coming out of Washington these days, and unfortunately you can't believe the American press these days either, since they seem to be devoted to peddling the government line, which is also interesting in what it reveals about the highly concentrated media of modern times. Does it serve the interests of the public, or the interests of beef multi-nationals?
Similarly one can ask just where the Democratic party will come down on this issue. Will they rally around big beef while trying to score a few points off the Republicans in Washington. Based on yesterday's statements by the Democratic candidates, they are not going to antagonize big beef, and they definately don't want to cost big beef any money (that is what this weird 'mad cow policy' is all about after all-saving big beef a nickel today so they can risk losing a dollar tomorrow-but only if people find out-as long as this high risk strategy of hiding the mad cow works out for them can they save a nickel and a dollar-and this is where both the Democratic candidates and the modern news media come in-will they rally round the beef industry and make sure no one finds out the way things really work, the way things really are?)
According to a recent story the following statements were made by Democratic candidates...
Dean noted the administration blocked attempts to ban from the food supply beef from cows slaughtered when they were unable to walk -- a symptom of the disease -- and resisted efforts to create a better system to track cows.
"A larger outbreak of BSE or some other livestock disease could devastate rural economies," Dean said.
"This administration has not taken such dangers seriously -- they have seriously underfunded important food security efforts, including important upgrades to the National Animal Disease Center here in Ames."
Dean called for federal support for the beef industry in the short-term and "an administration that will put the interests of our consumers and ranchers ahead of the president's corporate backers" in the long-term.
Dick Gephardt of Missouri said ... "We must stop this deadly disease at our borders at all cost. It's the government's highest responsibility to keep Americans safe. That includes the food at our grocery stores," Gephardt said after a rally in Enid, Oklahoma.
"George Bush refuses to fund important country-of-origin labeling provisions for meat and has ignored the need for resources at the FDA and USDA to inspect the agricultural products coming across our borders.
Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts called on Bush to implement his plan "to protect public health and restore confidence in the beef industry."
"I am calling on President Bush to act immediately to improve our food safety and inspection process," Kerry said.
"The current mad cow investigation underscores the urgent need for a national system to make diseased livestock easier to track and contain. It also calls for common-sense reforms, such as placing a hold on suspect animals until test results are cleared."
Kerry called for all "downer" cows -- those unable to walk into the slaughterhouse -- to be tested and not allowed into the food supply until certified as disease-free, as some other countries have mandated.
He also called for more inspections of cattle at the slaughterhouse and to ensure that the 1997 feed ban on ground bone meal is not being violated.
He recommended banning the sale of nerve tissue such as brains or vertebrae that can contain the disease's causal agent, as Britain did after its bout with the illness.
Of these statements, the most pro-beef multinational, would seem to be Gephardt, whose statement about 'stopping BSE at our borders' fits like a hand into a glove with the official propaganda line (we don't have mad cows here). We do, of course, have mad deer, mad elk, mad bison, just no mad cows. Not here. No, certainly not.
According to estimates, a thorough testing system, that tests every cow would cost about 3 cents a pound. And given how fiercely big beef has fought every step of the way, resisting all efforts to stop the processing of sick, staggering cattle, resisting all efforts to control feed, all testing, putting up a fierce fight every step of the way in order to save three cents, well, it seems like a fierce fight is coming up as the big beef industry saves three cents to lose three dollars later (in the hope, of course, that no one would find out, and they could forever and ever just save that three cents...)
a previous post with some links
by the way I wrote this thing yesterday after having had zero sleep the night before and it is not the most coherent thing I have written lately for that reason, but it does have some interesting links...
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