Wednesday, January 14


A scathing piece in the Guardian quoted USDA inspectors and other insiders as describing "a culture of indifference towards the threat of BSE" in America. "In the slaughterhouses and meat packing plants, vets and food safety inspectors say: policies favour the beef industry at the expense of consumer safety; testing for BSE is rare and haphazard, and carried out by people with minimal training in the disorder; discussion of the disease by regulators was discouraged; government agencies fail to enforce their own safety standards. There's lots more. Plus this perspective from a different kind of insider: "The discovery of an infected Holstein cow in Washington state points inexorably to the possibility that there are undetected cases in the U.S. herd." This is not just some average Joe opining, but Joshua Cohen, a senior researcher at the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, whose analysis of mad cow disease government officials have repeatedly cited. He says it "seems likely that there is at least one other animal with clinical BSE in the U.S. This animal is probably not the only one -- you wouldn't want to bet on it being the only one." Exactly. And yet every person who bites into a burger is taking just that bet.

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