Monday, December 29


No Risk From Mad Cow Meat, U.S. Says Whew! That was a close one, because here I had thought there might be a risk, what with all the meat from that slaughtered mad cow getting eaten by consumers and all.

Agriculture Department officials maintain, meanwhile, there is no health risk to consumers. Great. No health risk. "essentially zero." Oh, OK. Essentially.

They seem to be using "no risk" in place of "low risk," since that term is now busted from its overuse last year. Remember when there was such a "low risk" of Mad Cow in the US. that the USDA could keep touting its achievement in maintaining that "firewall?"

Study Shows Mad Cow Prevention Is Working in the U.S A 2002 Harvard study "showed that early protection systems put into place by the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have been largely responsible for keeping BSE out of the U.S." - except that BSE was already in the U.S. at this time, wasn't it? - "and would prevent it from spreading if it ever did enter the country." Right. I mean, sure, it might get to a couple hundred groceries and hundreds of consumers across eight states, but not to Guam. Never Guam.

The NYT simplifies the risk complex into two basic questions:

1. Did my family eat any of that cow, and, if so, will it hurt them?

2. Never mind that one cow — how many others are out there?

A short, somewhat flippant answer provided to #2: "finding two positives in roughly 40,000 recent tests would suggest that there could be about 1,750 positive animals in the 35 million slaughtered each year," suggests Dr. Donald Berry, chairman of the biostatistics department at the University of Texas's cancer research center.

As to whether anybody ate them, Gary Weber, that he says he thought that, like most ground beef, the batch would have been frozen for transit. OK - is this a suggestion something was awry? 'Frozen' as in frozen or 'frozen ' as in 'stopped?' '"I'd hazard a guess that some of it has been consumed." Nonetheless, even if the meat was eaten, the risk to humans seems low.'

Oh, now it seems low, does it? So, another level of qualification - it may not even be low! But at least it seems low. This is a long way from "no health risk to consumers," isn't it?

And in another interesting note...

'On the larger question - how many other cows have the disease - Dr. DeHaven said the department believed that "the worst-case scenario is the disease exists in the United States at a very low prevalence."'

Oh, that's the worst it could possibly get, huh? Gosh, how much you want to bet it gets exactly that bad?

No comments: