business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Dallas Morning News reports that while the federal and Texas state governments have closed their investigation into the first case of indigenous mad cow disease in the US – identified in Texas earlier this year – documents suggest that trying to track the cow’s origins and movements was problematic, and that in fact the many cows from the herd linked to the infected cow were slaughtered and may have gotten into the human food supply.

The reports, compiled for the Texas Animal Health Commission, say that about 350 cows from the 413-head herd, or about 85 percent of the total, were sent for slaughter. The Morning News< writes that “the investigators' searches for feed records as well as ‘animals of interest’ went back years, but many records were no longer available.” In fact, officials are not even sure how the afflicted cow was infected with mad cow, according to the report.

Critics of the existing system say that it is likely that at least some of the slaughtered cattle probably made it into the human food supply. The concern is that mad cow disease is linked to a chronic brain-wasting disease in humans called new-variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob, which can take years in incubate before symptoms develop.

Government officials, however, say they are confident that no infected beef got into the human food supply.
KC's View:
Wish we shared their confidence.

We continue to believe that the US ought to adopt the Japanese system – test every cow.

We also ought to make sure that every cow is tagged at birth with an RFID chip, so that we can use technology to track their origins and movements.

Our friend Phil Lempert likes to say that mad cow is the “food safety bomb waiting to go off.” We agree with him on this, and cannot understand why government and industry are dragging their feet.