Eating meat could get you mad cow disease. cpr please no negative comments!greenspun.com : LUSENET : Unk's Wild Wild West : One Thread
Mad Cow Disease May Be Everywhere!
As you read this piece, remember that they also use rendered fats from dead animals to make cosmetics..lipstick, eyeliner, powder, etc....I have personally seen the rendering trucks pick up the barrels of fat and bone behind supermarkets! This is Part 1. Part 2 follows:
UDDER DENIAL or WHY MAD COW DISEASE MAY BE IN YOUR FRIDGE
Mad-Cow has to be the most intriguing fatal disease on the planet. Imagine the scenario you're walking along eating this hamburger, not knowing that as you munch, alien invaders are climbing out of the meat, through your tongue, bouncing like happy, yellow pac-men toward your brain which THEY will eat the way you're inhaling that burger. You don't know you're infected so you get married and have a child---who, you guessed it, is born with the Satan bug pre-loaded, already munching away at his brain.
The truth about Mad Cow is so horrific nothing is taught about it in med schools. Until a year ago, most scientists knew Jack in the Box about it---(malady originally found in cannibals but mysteriously, at times seemingly spontaneously in non-cannibals)--which was probably for the best. If doctors had known any more, med students would have realized they had no more than five or ten years to live, quit school and spent their last years surfing Tahiti.
A lot of people would have you believe only Mad-Cow and Englishmen go out in the Noon day sun. Hooey. Mad-cow has been killing American sheep since the early 70's, U.S. cows since the mid-80's, and U.S. citizens for the last decade.
The reason it hasn't been made public is that the people who had the facts chose to misinterpret them. They are in udder denial. Scientists have know the truth about Mad-Cow for ll years, since l985 when Britain's #1 researcher, a microbiologist, discovered and announced them. It took him a decade to publish his Feb, l995 book which claimed a hundred plus humans dead of Mad-Cow might imply the British beef supply was infected.
(Two prestigious medical journals trashed the book in scathing reviews the same week as a Rock group named "Mad-Cow Disease" made its London debut to rave reviews. Go figure.
Summer '95, the Canadian Red Cross had a blood recall when they discovered two infected Canadians had donated blood but the press only wanted to talk about a sick bull whose owner refused to destroy him. The November '95 issue of the
British Medical Journal suggested the possibility that maybe people got Mad Cow from eating beef. Three million Brits immediately quit eating beef.
Mad-Cow hit our shore in two blows --the first January 12th, l996, when John Darnton wrote a long article on balmy bovines for the New York Times, the second March 20th, l996, when the British government finally admitted to the world that the obscure, brain-disintegrating cow malady called Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (Latin for sponge brains) was the same disease found in a lot of dead sheep, in the brains of several hundred dead Brits and the same disease that turned cannibals' minds to mush back in New Guinea in the 1940's.
White man wasn't supposed to get the cannibal bug. Papuans deserved things like that. These dumb-nuts ate their deceased family members' brains as a social ritual, hoping to keep their relatives thoughts 'alive' and know the future.
Once a Papuan was infected, any children born, automatically had the infection incubating inside them and the whole family died dingy. It was a weird sickness which deserved the most obscure name possible and "Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease" did the job.
CJD was a 'prion' disease, so called after the minuscule protein particle that seemed to cause it, not a bacteria, not a microbe, but a virus, a sub-microscopic speck that had no DNA or genetic structure, A Flying Dutchman of a protein particle like an unpiloted plane, just a few simple atoms of death strung on an amino ribbon floating single-mindedly through a mammalian body until it found the area where it loves to root, the brain. There, the prion embeds itself, bonding with a single healthy protein molecule and like a cult leader, instructing him to mutate into a twisted prion like itself. Then, the newly converted devotee molecule does the same thing, converting another normal cell, setting off a chain reaction-series of imploding, self-destructing cells, leaving large, ventilated, vacant spaces. The cult is as lethal as it is patient not caring if it burns down the church as it quite happily decays into the ground, hungrily waiting a few centuries for another victim.
Though science would have us believe CJD can be sporadic, or appear out of nowhere, CJD enters us only when another person's flesh is eaten. White men didn't eat their brothers, so there was no thought in early researchers, Cruetzfeldt-Jacob, that bwana could get this bizarre mush brain syndrome. But as a wise man once said, science never advances so fast as when it is dead wrong.
If there are coherent universes contained inside coherent universes, microcosms above and below, why can't germs have feelings and aspirations? As germs go, this one was a bug with imagination. It wasn't interested in crawling on the savannah of Papua, in some blade of grass, It wanted 'the big time,' so it waited until a chipmunk ate the grass, the aborigine ate the chipmunk then the germ tap-danced up the poor man's brain stem to the man's brain, eating holes in this gray matter until the cerebrum resembled a big, gray sponge and the host became spastic, mindless and started laughing, as mindless people everywhere do, only this fellow would laugh himself to death and then, as if to 'get' the joke, his children ate his brain.
At first, the disease seemed kind of fun. Imagine Cruetzfeldt and Jacob coming upon this native, laughing himself to death with kuru, (the Papuan name for it) then embarking for Europe, with the laughing man's pickled brain in a jar. Seeing no germs in any lens of the period, they threw this spongy cauliflower into their little British garden. A trillion prions abated into the ground, waiting for some low-grazing animal to come munching toward them, and along came the family pet, Wooly the Ram. Bingo! It's Mega-death starring The Cannibal Bug opening at the Palladium.
That might well have been the scenario for, after New Guinea, the disease's next official appearance involved a big, geographic leap. In the 70's, it appeared in the sheep herds of Britain. British sheepherders, with Celtic poesy, called the penchant "scrapie" after the sick sheep's habit of rubbing up against things.
As breeders traded sheep like baseball cards, scrapie moved to sheep herds in America which in 1970 had an epizootic amount of laughy, rubbing sheep. For a while farmers wondered if their teen-aged kids had dosed herds with some of those new-fangled, hippie drugs. Rams and ewes who had never met a cannibal started exhibiting an odd, itch to scrape their heads and hides against fences, even if the fences were barbed wire. No one suspected that scrapie was just that old Papuan wolf hiding in sheep's clothing. It was beyond imagination that a cannibal infection on one, isolated continent could leap to food chain-animals on another continent, unless the unseen six fingered hand of some alien gray Dr. Pasteur was at work. Maybe all those cattle mutilations in the South West were really UFO research, designed to vacate this fine planet of bothersome earthlings, fitting it for new, silvery skinned tenants.
Or were cattle mutilations the work of "local talent" who didn't want to alarm farmers with requests for cow labia? In l970, the U.S Dept of Agriculture and National Institute of Health were on some kind of secret detail. They collected thousands of scrapie-infected sheep, examined them, isolating the animals in pens, in up-state New York, but then, according to Howard Lyman of the U.S. Humane Society, (an ex cattle rancher who was privy to all this), the NIH (i.e. Washington) sold the sick animals to farmers across the USA.
When these sheep later died, unsuspecting farmers sold their corpses to the rendering industry to make cattle feed, in order to GET l00$ rather than SPEND 500$ for an autopsy. Unwittingly, the U.S. Government had sent a gaggle of happy little Papuan prions off to have their way with a lot of unsuspecting American cows.
In the USA there is an enormous industry of turning cow corpses into Soylent Green to fatten livestock, called 'feeder cattle,' meaning cattle raised to be eaten by cattle. This practice is so solidly entrenched in the USA that you can actually trade commodity futures on 'feeder animals.'
Back in the 70's the delegated feeders were sheep who'd died of scrapie.This was simply American frugality to use up all those imported, sick sheep. Grinding up dead animals worked well for American ranchers; cows buffed up into Schwarzeneggers so Brits began doing it to their dead sheep and in the 70's, Brits were losing a lot of sheep to scrapie. Why not cut losses with cash for corpses? Trusting beef-farmers bought hi-protein certain-death feed for their cows for the next 18 years. Because the UK had an enormous percentage of sheep to cows, every cow got a daily, heaping serving of kibbled sheep. And poor, trusting Brits ate a lot of the infected sheep too, as in Britain, mutton is consumed.
For the first time since Papua, humans got prions in their brains. How not to? Farmers and butchers couldn't see that a sheep was ill. At slaughter time, the dementia hadn't yet manifested. Even if it had, in l974, the top UK microbiologist/researcher, Dr. Richard Lacey and his U.S. counterpart, Dr. Stanley Prusiner had only just set up their electron microscopes to study prion diseases. In those days researchers thought prion diseases were only genetic.
The fact that they were infectious first, later becoming genetic was beyond imagination. So get the picture 26 years ago, microbiologists in two countries could see the bug, farmers, veterinarians and butchers couldn't. There were no antibody markers visible at any time during incubation so sick ewes freely gave their illness to their baby lambs who carried the bug straight to human tables. In Britain, mutton may have infected Brits. We say 'may' as there is a theory that CJD does not come to humans through sheep, but rather, after another step up the food chain, through sheep-kibble to cows, then through beef steak into human mouths. The logic of science is hazy to the point of denial here as there were human dementia deaths in the 70's but they were ascribed to Alzheimer's, the disease that was giving doctors deep-pockets, so prions, sheep and sloppy doctors were all off the hook.
But all that was soon to change. In l985, British farmers noticed that an illness suspiciously like scrapie turned up in a cow. Patient Zero was a Holstein dairy cow who started kicking like a chorus girl, developed an extreme case of the jitters then fell over dead. Her brain was examined posthumously, its Swiss cheese appearance noted and the disease given the name "Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy" or BSE, a whole letter away in the dictionary from Cruetzfeldt and a dictionary away from 'Scrapie.'
In a cow, the bug caused more than just an itch to scrape. BSE was a true "Dementia" disease, like Alzheimer's is for humans, i.e. memory loss, motor function changes, loss of large movements like walking ability. Eyesight is lost, the ability to make fine movements with the hands, loss of spacial arrangements like parking a car. A lot of that is not crucial to a cow, but it was hard for the farmer to milk Bessie when she was splayed on the ground shaking, screaming and dancing around like James Brown. A cow is a lot more valuable than a sheep. Beef-farmers demanded answers. At first, nobody connected spastic cows with the scrapie sheep of the 70's and certainly not with New Guinea cannibals of the 40's but in l986, a professor of Microbiology at Leeds University, consultant to the W.H.O., Dr. Richard Lacey, announced that scrapie, BSE and CJD were the same thing, that beef disease was in the meat supply, could kill humans and that a wave of deaths would soon hit Britain.
Lacey was called 'an airy-fairy, politically suspect vegan,' and accused of trying to dismantle the 6 billion dollar a year British beef industry. His funding was pulled. Like a Cassandra, he stuck to his guns, warning there was going to be a fatal outbreak, saying that people should stop eating beef and that newspapers should start warning people of the possibility of human infection. Lacey felt that 100,000 people were already infected. His prophecies made Beef-eaters and especially beef-farmers edgy and got him fired but his words weren't ignored. The government created an Official Advisory Council, (leaving the nation's only expert, Lacey, off the board) which told farmers not to worry, that while feeding powdered sheep corpses to live cows probably wasn't a good idea (even if the idea had been given to them by American ranchers, who practiced 'the grisly, fleshly humus pile' method for buffing up beef to the tune of huge profits,) Brit farmers could do as they wanted. That was l986. And the band played on.
In late l987, 700 BSE-infected cows were reported in Britain. By Summer 1988, the number had climbed to 7,000. Out of one side of their mouth, the experts said they were stumped. Out of the other side of their face they created a l988 law making the use of sheep and bovine offal illegal. Europe, Asia and America heard about the law, realized the livestock they'd been importing was infected and en masse boycotted British sheep and beef, causing millions of pounds sterling profits to vaporize.
The sacrificial lamb-ban was a case of too little too late. British livestock with tourist cards were grazing in every country of the world, and had entered the breeding stock with a baa, moo and a Mona Lisa smile. The entire world had been eating imported British beef and lamb chops well since the ground floor of the disease in the 70's so laughing Papuan prions were pac-manning up brainstems from Budapest to Bora Bora.
The world ban on beef, the Prophet of Leeds, and the '88 law against grinding up sheep did not stop the progression of BSE in England. Cows kept dying. Brits waited for the next hoof to fall and fall it did. The number of infected dead cows soared from 1989's mere 7000 to 36,000 in 1992. In eleven years,160,000 British cows had gone four hoofs to the sky and there still wasn't an official murmur about human contagion---aside from Crazy Lacey whom no one took seriously,--- not a mention of the possibility of the disease munching its way another insidious step up the food chain but the 90's, the human form of the disease, CJD, began to show its sub-atomic teeth.
In 1993, WHO figures indicated a total of 250 suspected, 117 proven CJD deaths with the average age of the victims being 27 years (descending from the former CJD average of 63 years). But the bell didn't stop tolling 56 Brits died of CJD in l994, followed by 42 cases in l995. March 20th, l996, Agriculture Minister Dorrell announced to the world that British scientists "suspected a link" between BSE and it's human equivalent, CJD. A link between spongy brains in British cows and the even spongier brains in British politicians was finally officially on the record. Dorrell's admission caused a furor which put photos of stumbling, cross-eyed, drooling cows on TV's across the planet and made England's Wimpys and McDonalds burger shops stop serving beef and begin marketing a soy patty, (which they did for all of three days until they had some European beef flown in and started resupplying the real thing.) Vegans picketed the MacMeister and got their asses sued --- the world's first case of 'McLibel.' English schools immediately stopped serving beef in cafeterias. All this ruckus shot American beef, grain, soy and especially corn prices sky high in slavering anticipation of the US cornering the feed market as it became necessary to fatten the planet's cows on something other than their dead brothers. Staunchly, Prime Minister Major and the German and Italian politicians ate veal chops for lunch in Turin as they haggled over the ban, taking us back to an earlier Brit minister who'd force-fed his gagging 4-year old daughter a burger in front of the press corps. The Royal Family stodgily continued to serve beef at Buckingham Castle, recalling how, during WWII, they patriotically stayed in London dodging bombs alongside commoners but the bravura was really profiteering, pro-beef drama to keep the British beef industry alive and shouldn't make us forget the important question---why hadn't the 7 year ban on British Lethal sheep powder stopped the progress of the disease in Britain? THIRTEEN REASONS WHY IT DIDN'T & MAD COW IS IN YOUR FRIDGE TODAY
1.) MAD COW, SCRAPIE and CJD are mutations of a cannibal disease. A mammal gets it by eating the infected flesh of another mammal, although corneal transplants and pituitary injections also carry it.
2.) US/Brit Sheep were infected simultaneously back in the 70s. In both countries, sheep's dead bodies were turned into protein powder and fed to cows. Britain banned 'death kibble' in '88. It's still 100% legal in USA.
3.) MAD COW causes NO ANTIBODY RESPONSE. When infection enters any body, human or animal, the victim's immune system shows no sign of fighting the infection as it does with bacteria, germs and viruses which means the mammal's immune system can neither detect nor fight it nor can scientists use the antibody-search method to see if someone is sick, as we do with AIDS.
4.) CJD disease takes 10-50 years to eat away the human brain. In COWS, death strikes as early as one year after exposure, as late as 8.
5. ) Mad-cow causes a genetic mutation which is transmissible so if you have it and are starting a family all your children will have it. Sheep and cows pass it to offspring, too and chickens to their eggs. If it weren't transmissable, why for decades had the FDA has demanded that all donors to the blood supply answer the question 'has anyone in your family died of Cruetzfeldt-Jacob?' The disease is l00% inherited and one drop of blood of a descendant of a CJD victims can infect all your descendents down through time.
6.) No scientist can tell if a cow or human is in an incubating phase. Except for brain biopsies, there are no tests, no genetic markers. Prions are not reliably found in urine. You can see prions in brain tissue but you canno open the skull of a live mammal to scoop them out. If a cow whose milk you are drinking has it, her calf, sent to be a veal chop last Winter, had it when you ate him. An older cow may fall over dead with it, but meanwhile her sick, offspring are long gone to human tables. The long incubation period means the farmer can't see that the animal is ill. The USDA studies the brain of 100 cows per hundred thousand --- a snippet of a sample indeed.
7.) Mad-Cow is killing faster and faster. It was once thought humans could incubate the disease for up to five decades without going into the final, dementia stage but lately Brit teens have been dying of it so it appears Mad-Cow prions evolve the way everything else does. The mutation is toward legs.
8.) The only way for a farmer to find the disease in his herd is via a 500$ autopsy. Farmers prefer selling the corpse to a rendering factory for $l00 profit, a practice still legal in the America at this time of writing.
9.) Mad Cow prions can't be killed the way we fought the plague or fight cholera epidemics, or Ebola, by burning bodies. It is passed on via 'prions',proteins that degrade at 800 fahrenheit, way above the temperature that would reduce them to ash. What is more, burning is a bad idea, as prion molecules go up in the smoke, airborne and fall back on the land. As they were never alive, they do not die. These zombie molecules just wait for the next set of munching teeth. As Britain is considering burning 5 million cows soon, loosing the prions like some ghostly stampede in the sky, the air and water there may soon be contaminated. Cancel your Summer trip. The place will soon be a giant science experiment.
10.) Though Mad-Cow attacks brains, it's thought to be in every part of the cow, his flesh, blood, urine. The contamination cannot be removed by cooking or powdering him. A British Vegan woman caught it simply by dusting her roses with blood meal.
11.) USA has had thousands of 'downer' cows (dying mysteriously) since l981. Dr.Richard Marsh, a virologist on the Veterinary staff at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, stated that he had seen 100 cases of BSE in America, between 1981 and 1989. If the bug entered US beef 15 years ago and has been multiplying ever since, a million cows could be infected.
12.) MAD-COW mortality figures hide behind the skirts of Alzheimer's. Some U.S. doctors know the truth yet haven't blown whistles. Pittsburgh Veterans hospital autopsied 53 sequential Alzheimer's victims. Sampling 1 showed 5.5% had died of Mad-Cow, sampling #2 that 6.3 Percent died of Mad-Cow. Alzheimer's death tolls are doubling and tripling, not characteristic of a genetic disease ergo the shadowy presence of another PROBABLE CAUSE.
13.) No lab in USA will do a Mad-cow autopsy as the prion cannot be burned out, sterilized afterwards so on all our death certificates, officially, we're going to die of you guessed it, ALZHEIMER's and the cows? They're downers. That's all. Since beef and sheep farmers have been sending 'downer' livestock to rendering factories to be made into 'protein powder' for livestock for the last 26 years, Mad Cow prions could be in every ounce of meat, milk, pork, chicken, egg, cheese, or butter you have eaten since l970 and in every bite you eat today and in gelatin caps, animal glandular supplements and in the glue on the postage stamp you will use to mail a xerox of this article to your Aunt Edna. Forget Ebola which kills you so fast you can't move ten feet and give it to anyone else and which you can blow out like a birthday candle with a good bonfire. Mad Cow is the most prevalent, virulent disease to hit this planet since the plague. Conceivably it could represent the end of all human life here, vacating the orb for a new, Vegetarian Adam and Eve to bring forth a new, meat-free race, or for Pleidean squatters to turn into Acapulco. It is certain that we will see many more cases associated with CJD than we have ever seen with AIDS as Mad Cow infection has been found all over Europe. Figures for sick cows to l995.
There are no official figures given for the US. That someone wants to hide the problem, let a tidal wave of CJD deaths be ascribed to Alzheimer's to bolster a troubled economy at the expense of its people might be inferred from U.S. official silence. A few days after the Brit admission, the USDA issued statements that American beef was clean. "The US did not use sheep for bypass protein cattle feed." This is an outright lie. In the USA, thousands of downer sheep have been used to feed cows and of late, America has an enormous amount of 'downer' cows to feed them, too. From the Pittsburgh sampling we realize that there are hundreds if not thousands of CJD deaths in America but they are passed off as Alzheimer's. BSE is entrenched in American beef regardless of what the US Government wants you to believe, and boy, there seems to be an effort to control what you believe. Ted Koppel interviewed Dr. Richard Marsh on Nightline two weeks ago. It went like this.
Koppel But we (USA) don't feed sheep brains to cows, do we?"
Marsh blinked. "I don't know where your information comes from, but we do." He was instantly cut off by a commercial and did not reappear that night. (Capitol Cities which owns ABC was founded by William Casey of the CIA. It is as close to being an official mouthpiece of the oligarchy as exists. Oh hey, get real. Why do you think Kissinger is their favorite 'witness.' He's practically the ABC poster boy. The truth is, Virologist Vet Marsh knows of what he speaks. All those BSE cow bodies he saw in Wisconsin 1981-1989 had been fed dead sheep yet the cows' became 'feeder cattle' and went to feed thousands of other cows who have bred thousands of animals. Papuan prions have been spread to herds from Maine to Hawaii. Knowing the genetic mode of transmission of the disease is to all offspring, it is reasonable to suspect that there is sponge brain infection slowly crawling up the brain stem of every cow in America as well as all the humans who have eaten them as well as all the offspring of both species. And to pigs, chickens who were also fattened with the deadly Soylent Green. As a poultry farmer told a prion researcher, "rendering salesmen brought us bags of this powder saying it was wonderful stuff and had ever so many uses we could use it for fertilizer or to feed our chickens." As so many CJD deaths are masked as Alzheimer and private labs won't let CJD tissue in the door to be examined, it is certain the American public will not be informed of the disease that is in our food, our kitchens and our bodies. We are scheduled to be 'downers' and Ted Koppel doesn't want us to know it.
-- ... (...@...com), December 25, 2000
Japan Bans Imports Of Euro Beef & Products
Japan Bans Imports of European Beef, Cow Products The Associated Press
TOKYO (AP) - Japan announced Monday that it was banning the import of beef and related products from the European Union as a precaution against mad cow disease. The ban will take effect on Jan. 1 and apply to beef, food made from processed beef and bull sperm - which is used for breeding, the Agriculture Ministry said, adding that it had notified its European trade partners.
The action - which follows a recommendation to the government by a panel of experts last week - will affect products from the 15 EU member nations, as well as from Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
The EU has been trying to stem the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, also known as mad cow disease, after new cases were uncovered in France and Germany earlier this year. The brain-wasting disease is thought to spread to humans as the equally fatal variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
Amid heightened concern over the disease, Japan has gradually tightened restrictions on animal-related products from abroad, recently outlawing the import of animal feed made from European cow bones and beef. That measure begins Jan. 1.
Traditionally a fish-eating nation, Japan has developed a strong affinity for beef over the past few decades.
Last year it imported some 642 tons of beef from European Union nations, along with nearly 1,500 tons of internal cow organs and over seven gallons of frozen sperm used for artificial insemination.
-- ... (...@...com), December 25, 2000.
Whoever posted this is full of shit clear up to their eyebrows! I don't speak for livestock in Great Britain but I'll tell ya right now on Christmas 2000 that cattle in this country do not have mad cow disease. For starters feeder cattle are not fed out to feed other livestock. Feeder cattle is a term used to define animals that are on high protein rations to promote weight gain in the shortest time possible. Oats, barley, corn, molasses, and vitamin supplements by weight and volumn make up the ingredients in the good ole USA. A multiple stomach animal such as a steer when he regurgitates his cud cannot tolerate the acidity that occurrs when muscle, bone, or tendon is introduced into their digestive system. Ulcerations and continual bloating with congestive heart failure would keep the Vets very busy in cow country to say the least! Our livestock industry still supplies the safest and cheapest source for protein we will ever see.
-- Boswell (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 25, 2000.
Boswell, go to a Redering Plant and ask them what they do with their finished product. They'll tell you that they feed it to animals. It for sure is not human food, so there are only animals left to feed it to.
Boswell you don't know what you're talking about!
-- fuddy duddy (email@example.com), December 25, 2000.
The author of this article sounds like Ed Yourdon. Is this his new gig LOL!
-- Gibby (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 25, 2000.
YOU MEAT EATERS WILL NOT ACCEPT THE FACTS. TOO BAD IT WILL EVENTUALLY PUT YOU 6 FEET UNDER ABOUT 30 YEARS BEFORE YOUR TIME.
From Cow to Cannibal
by Chet Day
September 11, 1997
The other evening as a cool front drifted through our state, I jogged along Highway 70 in the rolling mountains of NE Tennessee and passed a herd of grazing cattle. Feeding on thick, green pasture grass, one cow by the fence next to the two-lane blacktop glanced my way, rolled its big brown eyes upward, almost in amusement, mooed once, and then resumed chewing.
I couldn’t help but chuckle aloud as I took a deep breath of the crisp fall air and felt thankful for being so vibrantly alive and for enjoying a moment of communion with a fellow inhabitant of the earth.
As I continued along the shoulder of the highway, reflecting on my moment with the cow, I asked myself for what seemed like the millionth time how I could have spent more than forty oblivious years of my life ignoring the butchering of such creatures so I could stuff my face with hamburgers, steaks, hot dogs, and the other concoctions we carve and steal from the bodies of these peaceful animals.
This encounter with the cow provoked many thoughts because I had spent a good part of the week researching the August recall of 25 million pounds of E.coli contaminated hamburger that left the Hudson Foods Plant in Columbus, Nebraska, back in June. And that research had led me to other facts about the beef and meat industry that disturbed me even more.
When I swapped my computer for my jogging shoes that evening, I’d already spent a day and a half trying to write this opinion piece, but the more I wrote the more off- center I drifted. Usually a fairly objective and controlled person who keeps most things of the world a good arm’s length away from the core of my being, I felt as though I’d been physically, emotionally, mentally, and morally assaulted by what I’d learned regarding America’s beef and animal feed industries.
Originally, I’d planned this editorial to summarize the facts of the biggest beef recall in history and to then let the reader arrive at a conclusion. But every time I tried to write objectively, I kept coming up blank... and that rarely happens because I almost always have a deep well of words from which to draw.
So this morning I begin again, as James Joyce wrote in Finnegans Wake, and perhaps this time I can find the words and feelings to communicate a great wrong being committed in our country.
You know, these days, so many of us, in our hectic, busy lives, see so much in shades of gray. I can close my eyes to things that should infuriate my moral sense, and, most of the time, for my own peace, I shrug, stand mute, and go about my business, tucking the corners of some outrage under the mattress of the bed in the farthest guest room of my mind.
And yet this week I learned some facts about the American food industry that revealed to me what I consider something so morally, medically, and intuitively wrong that I want to shout what I’ve discovered to every person on earth.
Oh my, I am so close to this, so oddly attached emotionally. Only a few short months away from my fiftieth birthday, I experience the off-centering turmoil of a great wrong, and I feel helpless before it. An awakening has occurred, and it races through my thoughts and emotions with the current of a storm-swollen river.
In the first weeks of August, 1997, Hudson Foods Company admitted to the U.S. government that it needed to recall 20,000 pounds of hamburger that was contaminated with E.coli bacteria. Shortly thereafter the USDA upped the recall to 1.2 millions pounds.
By the time Princess Di’s death swept the meat story from the news, Hudson had recalled 25 million pounds of contaminated flesh and had sold the Columbus, Nebraska, plant that had released the infected hamburger.
Even though the USDA sent into the Columbus packing facility their so- called SWAT team of expert inspectors about mid-August, by the first of September, according to U.S. News and World Report, these crack inspectors could only conclude “that a jumbled record system and questionable procedures made it difficult, if not impossible, to determine how E.coli bacteria had tainted the hamburger patties fashioned there.”
Beef! It’s what’s for dinner.
Oh well, so it goes, I thought when I read the conclusion of the inspectors. I don’t like it, but their final report that nobody would ever know what really happened didn’t surprise me, and, besides, everything worked out okay. The company recalled the bad burgers, only 17 people got sick -- and none of them died -- and Hudson Foods sold the offending packing house to solve the problem. (According to a Hudson press release, IBP, the company that purchased the plant, is “the world’s premier producer of fresh beef, pork and related allied products.”) I guess by selling the Columbus facility, both Hudson and IBP get around the “questionable procedures” identified but not specified by the government swat team. I figured, well, the politicians and pundits like me will squawk for a few days and then the status quo will reassert itself and all will return to normal and nothing will be done to ensure the safety of beef for the consumer.
The politicians did get in a few self-serving licks. Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman said in mid-August on CNN's "Late Edition with Frank Sesno" when the Hudson beef recall still dominated the news, “I've sent the SWAT team out to this particular plant because I want to send a signal throughout the industry that we will not tolerate practices which are incompatible with public health.”
Oh yeah, everybody believes that the government absolutely won’t tolerate any “practices which are incompatible with public health.”
But America’s memory has the attention span of a five-year old Saturday morning cartoon addict. Only a few zealots remember the politicians like Glickman spouting similar platitudes the last meat recall back in 1993 when four children died and hundreds of people fell seriously ill after eating contaminated hamburgers at fast food joints in the northwest.
After those deaths and all kinds of chest-pounding and legalistic saber rattling, our government took serious, important steps to protect the public welfare. Do you remember? In a public relations’ campaign waged by the authorities with the help of the nightly news and the establishment press, the USDA taught those who continued to eat meat after the 1993 contamination to cook their burgers until the center reached a certain temperature “to kill possible germs and other contaminants.”
You see, because the meat industry is BIG business and because reforms cost BIG money, nothing really changed as a result of the 1993 outbreak of E.coli, and I doubt that much will change now unless Americans wake up and refuse to purchase the so-called “beef” being sold.
Beef! It’s what’s for dinner.
Before the Princess Di story took over the news, though, I did figure another self-interest group would use this latest beef recall as a rationale to start telling us that we must irradiate the meat they grind in America’s flesh processing plants before it ends up in home refrigerators.
Interestingly, my prediction came true. "Irradiation offers the best chance of substantially reducing bacterial and parasitic contamination in food," Michael Osterholm, state epidemiologist for Minnesota, said in the September 1 edition of Newsweek. "It is the critical missing piece in reducing the risk of illness."
Well, this kind of talk didn’t stay in the news very long because the media decided it needed to spend about ten days covering the death of Princess Di, but, nonetheless, I’d like to ask Michael Osterholm and the rest of the irradiating proponents what else happens at cellular level to foods that they bombard with their radiation.
If radiation destroys bacteria, what does it do to the nutrient factors in foods that keep our immune systems functioning? Why do we have so many new autoimmune diseases here at the end of the century? Funny, those who want to process our foods to keep them safe for us rarely want to talk about the side effects of their treatments. Why don’t they tell us what heat, steam, caustic chemicals, radiation, and genetic manipulation do to the nutrients in the foods they adulterate for “safety sake”?
It scares me when I reflect on the similarities between the arguments presented for food safety by the meat industries and similar scientific and statistical “proof” presented for human health by establishment medicine. But the experts don’t have much to say about side effects, do they?
And these side effects of our “disease” and “food” industries may well be maiming and killing people!
Of course I’m not alone in objecting to bombarding any kind of food with radiation. "We're not big fans of irradiation," said Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety expert at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “It raises environmental and worker safety issues, and strips nutrients and affects food taste,” she said.
But then one can always find some university expert who’ll argue the other side: "Some people still believe the stuff glows in the dark," Gary Smith, head of the Center for Red Meat Safety at Colorado State University, told a Reuter’s reporter on August 31. Beyond skeptical consumers, it would be a logistical feat to irradiate the some 13 billion pounds of hamburger Americans eat each year, he said, adding, "We've lost our sense of safety that people had 50 years ago. I'm very concerned that irradiation be seen as the magic bullet because the only magic bullet is to cook it and cook it until nothing survives."
In other words, Professor Smith, you want us to cremate our sirloin before putting it in our mouths, right? You want us to forget those happy days of telling the waitress when we order our 16-ounce T-bone steak, “Rare, ma’am, I want to hear that ole steak moo when I stick my fork in it.”
Beef! It’s what’s for dinner.
As long as you burn it to cinders before placing it on the dinner china.
“Heck,” some meat eater friend of Professor Smith’s might add, “so what if a few people get a belly ache once in a while? Big deal! Millions of us enjoy our meat at every meal. The beef industry has a great record of public safety. Shoot, we’re safer eating a burger than we are flying in an airplane. And you don’t get much safer than that.”
According to a Reuter’s health story, foodborne illnesses sicken 33 million people each year and kill 9,000 in the United States alone. Scientists agree the worst foodborne bacteria may be E.coli:0157, first identified in 1982. It causes diarrhea, severe cramps, dehydration, and in some cases, kidney failure. E.coli bacteria appears naturally in the intestines of cattle. If intestinal material comes into contact with meat during processing, it can contaminate the meat. Researchers believe E.coli contamination arises during the slaughtering and packing process, when fecal matter from the intestines of cattle, where the bacteria naturally occurs, comes into contact with beef.
You probably think, as I used to during my flesh-eating days, that it would be rare for intestinal content to come into contact with the meat we eventually eat. If you’ve never given any thought to meat processing, and most of us don’t because we like to think our meat comes in nicely wrapped packages and not from some poor butchered cow, you probably assume the whole process is sterile and kind.
If you maintain that assumption, you’ve made a grave error.
Dave Gifford, a student at Trinity College, visited a slaughterhouse and wrote about his experience:
“I entered the kill shed through a short, tunnel-like hall through which I could see what I soon learned was the third butchering station. The kill shed consisted of one room in which a number of operations are performed by one or two of six butchers at four stations along the length of the room. In the kill shed there is also a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspector who examines parts of every animal who goes through the kill shed.
“The first station is the killing station. It is worked by one man whose job is to herd the animal into the killing stall, slaughter him or her, and begin the butchering process. This stage of the process takes about ten minutes for each animal, and begins with the opening of a heavy steel door that separates the killing stall from the waiting chute. The man working this station must then go into a corridor adjacent to the waiting chute, and prod his next victim into the killing stall with a high-voltage electric cattle prod.
“This is the most time-consuming part of the operation because the cattle are fully aware of what lies ahead, and are determined not to enter the killing stall. The physical symptoms of terror were painfully evident on the faces of each and every animal I saw either in the actual killing stall or in the waiting chute.
“During the 40 seconds to a minute that each animal had to wait in the killing stall before losing consciousness, the terror became visibly more intense. The animal could smell the blood, and see his or her former companions in various stages of dismemberment. During the last few seconds of life, the animal thrashes about the stall as much as its confines allow.
“All four of the cows whose deaths I witnessed strained frantically, futilely, and pathetically towards the ceiling -- the only direction that was not blocked by a steel door. Death came in the form of a pneumatic nail gun that was placed against their heads and fired.”
Beef! It’s what’s for dinner.
Ever since I saw a black and white television documentary filmed entirely in a meat packing house, I’d been appalled by the idea of killing cows so I could eat the flesh from their dead bodies. Appalled, yes, but not enough to stop eating meat until five years ago. And even then I shamefully admit I didn’t do it for ethical reasons but for health reasons.
So I don’t throw stones at meat eaters since I belonged to their ranks for more than 40 years. But I’m ready to hurl boulders at the individuals currently producing the meat that goes down America’s throat every day.
The many horrors of the meat industry came together for me when I read a story by Michael Satchell and Stephen J. Hedges in the September 1 issue of U.S. News and World Report.
From this story and my other research, I realized that we had a new food chain in the United States.
Growing up in the fifties and sixties, I learned in school that rain feeds the grass which feeds the cattle who provide us with our meat and milk and cheese. I learned that we need plenty of fresh milk and good meat every day of our lives to build strong healthy bodies. I believed the truth of this simple story but chose, as most of us do, to not ask or think about how the meat got from the nice cow to the nice plate on my table.
Today, public relation campaigns and catchy slogans notwithstanding, we have a new food chain, which goes something like this: For reasons of efficiency and economics, many cattlemen feed their animals anything.
And I mean anything.
Satchell and Hedges tell us “Agricultural refuse such as corncobs, rice hulls, fruit and vegetable peelings, along with grain byproducts from retail production of baked goods, cereals, and beer, have long been used to fatten cattle.”
Okay. Since I don’t consume meat anyway that didn’t bother me too much, though I’d prefer to see cattle eating only natural foods like grains and grasses.
The authors continued, “In addition, some 40 billion pounds a year of slaughterhouse wastes like blood, bone, and viscera, as well as the remains of millions of euthanised cats and dogs passed along by veterinarians and animal shelters, are rendered annually into livestock feed--in the process turning cattle and hogs, which are natural herbivores, into unwitting carnivores.”
This information knocked me flat. Not wanting to believe it, I got on the Internet to seek confirmation. A few searches later, I realized that cattle have been eating the rendered remains of other cattle for years.
Many of America’s once proud cattlemen have not only turned herbivores into carnivores, but they’ve also turned their cows into cannibals!
Beef! It’s what’s for dinner.
You may not be familiar with the idea of “rendering” plants. I only recently educated myself about this dead animal and discarded flesh disposal industry. And yet rendering represents a mult-billion dollar business, and these facilities operate 24 hours a day just about everywhere in America, and they’ve been in operation for years. Funny that so few of us have ever heard of them...
Let’s take a look at an article entitled “The Dark Side of Recycling” from the Fall, 1990, Earth Island Journal to learn about rendering plants:
“The rendering plant floor is piled high with ’raw product’: thousands of dead dogs and cats; heads and hooves from cattle, sheep, pigs and horses; whole skunks; rats and raccoons --all waiting to be processed. In the 90-degree heat, the piles of dead animals seem to have a life of their own as millions of maggots swarm over the carcasses.
“Two bandanna-masked men begin operating Bobcat mini-dozers, loading the ‘raw’ into a 10-foot-deep stainless-steel pit. They are undocumented workers from Mexico, doing a dirty job. A giant auger-grinder at the bottom of the pit begins to turn. Popping bones and squeezing flesh are sounds from a nightmare you will never forget.
“Rendering is the process of cooking raw animal material to remove the moisture and fat. The rendering plant works like a giant kitchen. The cooker, or ‘chef,’ blends the raw product in order to maintain a certain ratio between the carcasses of pets, livestock, poultry waste and supermarket rejects.
“Once the mass is cut into small pieces, it is transported to another auger for fine shredding. It is then cooked at 280 degrees for one hour. The continuous batch cooking process goes on non-stop 24 hours a day, seven days a week as meat is melted away from bones in the hot 'soup.’ During this cooking process, the soup produces a fat of yellow grease or tallow that rises to the top and is skimmed off. The cooked meat and bone are sent to a hammermill press, which squeezes out the remaining moisture and pulverizes the product into a gritty powder. Shaker screens sift out excess hair and large bone chips. Once the batch is finished, all that is left is yellow grease, meal and bone meal.
“As the American Journal of Veterinary Research explains, this recycled meat and bone meal is used as ‘a source of protein and other nutrients in the diets of poultry and swine and in pet foods, with lesser amounts used in the feed of cattle and sheep. Animal fat is also used in animal feeds as an energy source.’ Every day, hundreds of rendering plants across the United States truck millions of tons of this ‘food enhancer’ to poultry ranches, cattle feed-lots, dairy and hog farms, fish-feed plants and pet-food manufacturers where it is mixed with other ingredients to feed the billions of animals that meat-eating humans, in turn, will eat.
“Rendering plants have different specialties. The labeling designation of a particular ‘run’ of product is defined by the predominance of a specific animal. Some product- label names are: meat meal, meat by-products, poultry meal, poultry by-products, fish meal, fish oil, yellow grease, tallow, beef fat and chicken fat.
“Rendering plants perform one of the most valuable functions on Earth: they recycle used animals. Without rendering, our cities would run the risk of becoming filled with diseased and rotting carcasses. Fatal viruses and bacteria would spread uncontrolled through the population.
“Death is the number one commodity in a business where the demand for feed ingredients far exceeds the supply of raw product. But this elaborate system of food production through waste management has evolved into a recycling nightmare. Rendering plants are unavoidably processing toxic waste.
“The dead animals (the ‘raw’) are accompanied by a whole menu of unwanted ingredients. Pesticides enter the rendering process via poisoned livestock, and fish oil laced with bootleg DDT and other organophosphates that have accumulated in the bodies of West Coast mackerel and tuna.
“Because animals are frequently shoved into the pit with flea collars still attached organophosphate-containing insecticides get into the mix as well. The insecticide Dursban arrives in the form of cattle insecticide patches. Pharmaceuticals leak from antibiotics in livestock, and euthanasia drugs given to pets are also included. Heavy metals accumulate from a variety of sources: pet ID tags, surgical pins and needles.
“Even plastic winds up going into the pit. Unsold supermarket meats, chicken and fish arrive in styrofoam trays and shrink wrap. No one has time for the tedious chore of unwrapping thousands of rejected meat-packs. More plastic is added to the pits with the arrival of cattle ID tags, plastic insecticide patches and the green plastic bags containing pets from veterinarians.
“Skyrocketing labor costs are one of the economic factors forcing the corporate flesh-peddlers to cheat. It is far too costly for plant personnel to cut off flea collars or unwrap spoiled T-bone steaks. Every week, millions of packages of plastic-wrapped meat go through the rendering process and become one of the unwanted ingredients in animal feed.
“The most environmentally conscious state in the nation is California, where spot checks and testing of animal-feed ingredients happen at the wobbly rate of once every two-and-a-half months. The supervising state agency is the Department of Agriculture's Feed and Fertilizer Division of Compliance. Its main objective is to test for truth in labeling: does the percentage of protein, phosphorous and calcium match the rendering plant's claims; do the percentages meet state requirements? However, testing for pesticides and other toxins in animal feeds is incomplete.
“In California, eight field inspectors regulate a rendering industry that feeds the animals that the state's 30 million people eat. When it comes to rendering plants, however, state and federal agencies have maintained a hands-off policy, allowing the industry to become largely self-regulating. An article in the February 1990 issue of Render, the industry's national magazine, suggests that the self-regulation of certain contamination problems is not working.
“One policing program that is already off to a shaky start is the Salmonella Education/Reduction Program, formed under the auspices of the National Renderers Association. The magazine states that ‘...unless US and Canadian renderers get their heads out of the ground and demonstrate that they are serious about reducing the incidence of salmonella contamination in their animal protein meals, they are going to be faced with... new and overly stringent government regulations.’
“So far, the voluntary self-testing program is not working. According to the magazine, ‘...only about 20 per cent of the total number of companies producing or blending animal protein meal have signed up for the program...’ Far fewer have done the actual testing.
“The American Journal of Veterinary Research conducted an investigation into the persistence of sodium phenobarbital in the carcasses of euthanised animals at a typical rendering plant in 1985 and found ‘... virtually no degradation of the drug occurred during this conventional rendering process...’ and that ‘...the potential of other chemical contaminants (e.g., heavy metals, pesticides and environmental toxicants, which may cause massive herd mortalities) to degrade during conventional rendering needs further evaluation.’
“Renderers are the silent partners in our food chain. But worried insiders are beginning to talk, and one word that continues to come up in conversation is ‘pesticides.’ The possibility of petrochemically poisoning our food has become a reality. Government agencies and the industry itself are allowing toxins to be inadvertently recycled from the streets and supermarket shelves into the food chain. As we break into a new decade of increasingly complex pollution problems, we must rethink our place in the environment. No longer hunters, we are becoming the victims of our technologically altered food chain.
“The possibility of petrochemically poisoning our food has become a reality.”
Have you ever encountered anything quite as gruesome as what you just read? Do you wonder how much rendered flesh gets fed to the animals that people will eventually eat?
A 1991 USDA report states that "approximately 7.9 billion pounds of meat and bone meal, blood meal and feather meal [were] produced in 1983." Of that amount, 34 percent was used in pet food, 34 percent in poultry feed, 20 percent in pig food and ten percent in beef and dairy cattle feed. Scientific American cites a dramatic rise in the use of animal protein in commercial dairy feed since 1987.
You want something more recent, something closer to home?
How about this March 1996 report from the North Carolina Cooperative Extensive Service? In an article entitled “Greene County Animal Mortality Collection Ramp” we learn: “With North Carolina ranking in the top seven states in the U.S. in the production of turkeys, hogs, broilers and layers, it has been recently estimated that over 85,000 tons of farm poultry and swine mortality must be disposed of annually. To meet this disposal need, in 1989 the Green County Livestock Producers Association began using an animal carcass collection site. Livestock producers bring the animal and bird carcasses to the ramp and drop them into a water-tight truck with separate compartments for poultry and other livestock parked behind the retaining wall.
“A local farmer, contracted by the Livestock Association, hauls the animal and bird mortality to the rendering plant each day and maintains the collection site. The rendering plant pays the Livestock Association each week based on the current prices of meat, bone, and feather meal, and fat. During the first 16 weeks of operation in 1989, over 1 million pounds or a weekly average of 65,000 pounds of animal and bird mortality were collected and sent to the rendering plant. During the spring of 1991, weekly collections of swine mortality averaged 30,000 to 44,000 pounds worth 2.4 to 2.7 cents per pound at the rendering plant, while poultry mortality (primarily turkeys) average 15,000 to 33,000 pounds per week worth 0.2 to 0.4 cents per pound. Total gross returns to the Livestock Association from the rendering plant purchase of the animal and bird carcasses during this period averaged $1,000 per week which after covering all expenses resulted in a profit.
“Initial discussions for site planning included a truck wash and disinfect basin for producers leaving the site to prevent disease transfer. Since construction funds were limited, however, this wash pad was not built. After 2.5 years of operation, no disease problems have been reported. Producers who have a major outbreak of disease within their herd or flock are strongly cautioned not to use the collection ramp until they have the disease under control.
“The end result of this very successful project is that Greene County livestock and poultry producers have a convenient, safe, and economical alternative to dispose of animal and bird mortality while their Livestock Association enjoys a profitable endeavor.”
It appears that many people will do anything these days if it “enjoys a profitable endeavor.” But of course we won’t stoop so low as to use some of the profit to build a disinfectant basin.
Beef! It’s what’s for dinner.
Forget the morality of all this for a moment and shunt aside the ethics, and let’s just consider possible health reasons for not feeding rendered remains to the animals that eventually become human fare.
As I’m sure you’ve noted by now, government pretty much gives free rein to the cattle associations, to the rendering plants, to the meat industry, to everyone who has a profit motive linked to our food chain. Same way in England, according to John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton’s article, “The US ‘Mad Cow’ Cover-Up.” Stauber and Sheldon write, “For seven years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the multi-billion dollar animal livestock industry have cooperated in a PR cover-up of huge health risks to U.S. animals and people.
“For ten years preceding the outbreak of Mad Cow Disease in Britain, the USDA had scientific evidence that a version of the disease existed in U.S. cattle. Yet government and industry have failed, even at this late date, to ban the practice of ‘cow cannibalism.’
“The practice, prohibited in Britain for years, continues throughout the U.S. It is, in fact, more widespread in the U.S. than in any other country. And, as USDA researcher Dr. Mark Robinson points out, ‘the rendering processes employed in the UK and the US are virtually the same.’ The USDA confirms that, for decades, scrapie-infected sheep have passed through U.S. rendering plants.’
“After a decade of official denials, the British government finally admitted that Mad Cow Disease -- responsible for the deaths of more than 160,000 British cattle -- appeared to have migrated into humans who ate contaminated beef and are now dying of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD).
“The British government’s acknowledgment that infected beef was the likely cause of death for ten unusually young CJD victims came as grim vindication to Dr. Richard Lacey, a leading British microbiologist whose increasingly desperate warnings that the BSE threat was ‘more serious than AIDS’ have been officially dismissed for the past six years.
“Dr. Lacey predicts that the government’s failure to act sooner, combined with the disease’s long latency period, could produce 5,000-500,000 human deaths per year in Britain sometime after the year 2000.
“Internal documents and PR plans obtained by PR Watch, via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) investigation, show that the U.S. government has sought to protect the economic interests of the powerful meat and animal feed industries, while denying the existence of risks to animals and human.
“In a 1991 internal PR document, the USDA advised officials to use the technical name for the disease. ‘The term “Mad Cow Disease” has been detrimental,’ the document explained. ‘We should emphasize the need to use the term “bovine spongiform encephalopathy” or “BSE.”’
“Mad Cow Disease apparently became an epidemic in England as a result of ‘rendering plants’ -- factories that melt carcasses and waste meat products into protein used in animal feeds, cosmetics, nutritional supplements, medicines, and other products. As little as one teaspoon of feed derived from infected cattle can transmit the disease to another cow.
“In the U.S., plants process billions of pounds of protein from dead cows, sheep, pigs, chickens and other animals into animal feed each year.
“In 1990, the USDA and FDA convened a committee dominated by the cattle, dairy, sheep, and rendering industries. They launched a ‘voluntary ban’ on feeding rendered cows to cows. This was simply a PR maneuver. A similar voluntary ban failed miserably in Britain. The feeding of ruminant protein to cows continues at a rate of millions of pounds per day.
“U.S. government and industry representatives still insist that Mad Cow Disease does not exist in the U.S. Unfortunately, this party line is based on wishful thinking, rather than scientific proof.
“A major U.S. outbreak seems plausible, even likely, unless the U.S. government acts swiftly to outlaw the practice of feeding rendered by-product protein to cows.
“Has a meat-borne form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease already spread into the U.S. human population? Despite denials from the federal government, a number of statistically alarming clusters of CJD already have been reported in the U.S.
“In the past, victims of CJD have been misdiagnosed with Alzheimer’s - - a disease afflicting some four million Americans. The beginnings of a CJD epidemic could, therefore, already be hidden within the country’s huge population of dementia patients.”
As usual, though, in this country, the bottom line boils down to money and not the public good. In another USDA internal document from 1991, entitled “BSE Rendering Policy,” we read: “There is speculation... that a spongiform encephalopathy agent is present in the U.S. cattle population.” The report concluded that “prohibit[ing] the feeding of sheep and cattle-- origin protein products to all ruminants... minimizes the risk of BSE. The disadvantage is that the cost to the livestock and rendering industries would be substantial.”
In Michael Greger’s groundbreaking article, “The Public Health Implications of Mad Cow Disease,” we learn: “With scientists like Marsh saying ‘The exact same thing could happen over here as happened in Britain,’ and with beef consumption already at a thirty-year low, the USDA is justifiably worried. There was even a complaint filed with the FDA concerning a woman with CJD who had been taking a dietary supplement containing bovine tissue. Like England, we have been feeding dead cows to living cows for decades. In fact, here in the U.S. a minimum of 14% of the remains of rendered cattle is fed to other cows (another 50% goes on the pig and chicken menu). In 1989 alone, almost 800 million pounds of processed animal were fed to beef and dairy cattle. Partly because of this, the USDA has conceded that ‘the potential risk of amplification of the BSE agent is much greater in the United States’ than in Britain.
“... Four million Americans are affected by Alzheimer’s; it is the fourth leading cause of death among the elderly in the U.S. Epidemiological evidence suggests that people eating meat more than four times a week for a prolonged period have a three times higher chance of suffering a dementia than long-time vegetarians. A preliminary 1989 study at the University of Pennsylvania showed that over 5% of patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s were actually dying from a human spongiform encephalopathy. That means that as many as 200,000 people in the United States may already be dying from mad cow disease each year.”
Beef! It’s what’s for dinner.
On September 9th, as I prepared the final draft of this article, an Associated Press story revealed that “Two Kentucky doctors last month reported a possible link between eating squirrel brains and the rare and deadly human variety of mad-cow disease, Creutzfeldt- Jakob Disease.”
“Dr. Eric Weisman, a behavioral neurologist who practices in rural western Kentucky, reported in the distinguished British medical journal The Lancet that he has treated 11 people for Creutzfeldt-Jakob in four years, and all had eaten squirrel brains at some time. Six of the victims, ranging in age from 56 to 78, have died.”
When I read this story, I immediately wondered, “How many of these men have eaten beef at some time? And I again wondered, “How many people in America who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s actually have Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease?”
Interestingly enough, the doctors who reported the outbreak “... said many questions remain, including how the squirrels would contract the disease, since they do not eat meat.” Even more interesting, “... no squirrel brains have actually been examined for the disease.”
I don’t know about you, but if I thought the animals my fellow community members were eating were making them sick, I’d examine some squirrel brains before presenting my paper for publication. Wouldn’t you?
Squirrel brains! Uh, what’s for dinner?
To return to the recalled hamburger for a moment, E.coli is not the most prevalent food contaminant. Salmonella in meat, poultry, dairy products and eggs causes as many as four million infections each year, according to the USDA. Another bacterial pathogen is campylobacter, which has been linked to raw or undercooked chicken.
"The consumer has to realize that there is no way that we can create a pathogen-free food supply,'' said Tom Carr, a professor of animal science at the University of Illinois. "The consumer is the last line of protection. The processor can do all these positive things, but if the food is not properly handled at home, there could be food-borne illness.''
In a Public Health Advisory on August 21 from the USDA, “Officials from the Food Safety and Inspection Service are starting today to check with Hudson clients to be sure inventory that was produced on June 6 is returned to a Hudson warehouse in VanBuren, Ark. FSIS will collect the samples from returned product to determine the extent of the possible contamination and will supervise destruction of the product, as requested by Hudson. Hudson has not notified FSIS how they intend to destroy the product, which could be burned or rendered.”
When I read this advisory, I decided to go to the source, so I sent an e-mail to customer service at the Hudson web site, asking what they planned to do with the 25 millions pounds of contaminated beef. Much to my surprise -- I’m used to being ignored when I ask companies questions like this -- I received the following prompt reply, “I have been told that we are picking up all of the product and storing it at a storage facility in the Ft. Smith area (where they may do further testing, etc.) then the product will be sold to dog food companies. Sorry, that’s all I know thus far. Have a good day.”
Gee, it’s kind of hard to have a good day when you’re writing about contaminated beef and rendering plants and what’s going into what’s sitting on the supper plate of most Americans every night.
Just don’t open that can of dog food for your pet without thinking for a moment about what’s in it.
Beef! It’s what’s for dinner.
One final indignity. The cattle that so many folks eat every day not only fatten on the flesh of their fellows, but they also feed on the manure of other species. Feast your eyes on this information from the U.S. News and World Report: “Chicken manure in particular, which costs from $15 to $45 a ton in comparison with up to $125 a ton for alfalfa, is increasingly used as feed by cattle farmers despite possible health risks to consumers... more and more farmers are turning to chicken manure as a cheaper alternative to grains and hay.”
The same story quotes farmer Lamar Carter, who feeds to his 800 head of cattle a witches’ brew of soybean bran and chicken manure: “My cows are as fat as butterballs. If I didn’t have chicken litter, I’d have to sell half my herd. Other feed’s too expensive.”
Farmer Carter doesn’t mention this, but reporters Satchell and Hedges do: “Chicken manure often contains campylobacter and salmonella bacteria, which can cause disease in humans, as well as intestinal parasites, veterinary drug residues, and toxic heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury. These bacteria and toxins are passed on to the cattle and can be cycled to humans who eat beef contaminated by feces during slaughter.”
If they’re not being fed on rendered by-products or chicken manure, according to the Satchell and Hedges article, “Animal-feed manufacturers and farmers also have begun using or trying out dehydrated food garbage, fats emptied from restaurant fryers and grease traps, cement-kiln dust, even newsprint and cardboard that are derived from plant cellulose. Researchers in addition have experimented with cattle and hog manure, and human sewage sludge. New feed additives are being introduced so fast, says Daniel McChesney, head of animal-feed safety for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, that the government cannot keep pace with new regulations to cover them.”
Cattle and hog manure and human sewage sludge as possible foods for the animals eaten by human beings.
Words fail me.
Originally I had planned to spend a couple of hours writing a thousand word editorial on the Hudson Beef Recall.
But one search for information led to another and that one led to two more and before I knew it, I had on my desk a thick pile of articles and commentaries and official documents. Each of these separate threads kept leading me to a bigger story.
A week after starting this project, I feel as though I’ve barely scratched the surface of the truths that lie buried beneath the mounds of manure and rendered bone meal and meat by-products and the other abominations that serve as fodder for all too many of the animals that will end up in all too many of the bodies of our brothers and sisters.
I don’t know that I can continue to research this story. I don’t know that I can stand to learn what else lies beneath the fancy food commercials and the big lies that we have accepted for so long.
Sitting here at my laptop computer and pondering the possibility of continuing to try to wrestle all of this story to the ground, I can’t help but think of the words of Kurtz, the character in Joseph Conrad’s “The Heart of Darkness” who looked beneath the surface, who viewed too much, who ultimately saw nothing but “the horror, the horror.”
Earlier last week, as if the universe had provided me with a counterbalance to the disgusting realities I was learning about the meat and animal feed industries, I read and studied and thought about an article on inner calm written by Mildred Norman, a woman who gave up her name, her possessions, and her typical life to walk across American for peace. She did just that for more than 25,000 miles.
Peace Pilgrim, as she called herself, taught that a single individual could make a difference, and I share her belief. I only hope that each person who reads this article will talk about it with one other individual. Perhaps Xerox or print a copy and pass that copy on to someone else or leave it on a table at work or in a doctor’s waiting room. If enough of us do this, maybe we can start a grassroots movement to begin to put an end to the nightmare realities of the contemporary meat and animal feed industries. Each of us as an individual can make a difference.
Leafing through a self-styled “purveyors of premium foods” catalog the other day, I couldn’t help but squirm when I read one of the headlines on the slick magazine: “Our premium meats are aged to perfection, cut to order, and rushed to you fresh -- never frozen -- for a taste you’ll celebrate.”
We fill our bodies with the dead flesh of animals that have been fed on the dead flesh and manure of other animals “for a taste you’ll celebrate.”
And we wonder why we’re sick in this country?
Beef! It’s what’s for dinner.
Not at my house.
-- Dr.Weil (Dr.Weil@nomoremeat.com), December 25, 2000.
Merry Christmas, Boswell. :)
Oprah Winfrey was sued by the beef industry, remember that? Some guy was on her show talking about how cows were being ground up to feed other cows, and she said something about not ever eating a hamburger again. She prevailed against the lawsuit. Maybe her guest could prove what he said was true?
The upside of CJD is that it doesn't appear to cause much pain in the victim, only in those who have to watch. With CJD the victim doesn't even know what's happening after a point. I've read that prions can be passed through dental instruments, so even vegans with good dental care may have gotten infected. If CJD is as prevalent in the world as the author claims, there's little point in worrying about it.
-- helen (email@example.com), December 25, 2000.