Many of you know that I am the Vice Chairman of the Cattle Health and Wellbeing Committee for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. This is a volunteer position on a national committee which works to ensure good animal health, and the safety of the United States cattle herd. We work with our government (United States Department of Agriculture–USDA) and our veterinarians from all across the country to accomplish our goal.
One of the aspects of maintaining a healthy cattle herd is the monitoring of disease. This monitoring is done for two reasons: 1. to ensure that the good health of the US cattle herd is maintained, and 2. to ensure that only healthy animals enter the food production chain.
Dr. John Clifford of the USDA announced today that routine disease surveillance and testing at a rendering facility in California found a dairy cow that tested positive for atypical BSE (Bovine Encephalopathy). BSE is more commonly known as Mad Cow Disease. A rendering facility is a place that dead animals are taken to for proper disposal.
- THE ANIMAL IN QUESTION WAS NEVER SENT TO A HARVESTING FACILITY.
- THE BODY OF THIS ANIMAL HAS BEEN ISOLATED SINCE THE ANIMAL WAS TESTED.
- IT WILL NOW BE DISPOSED OF PROPERLY ACCORDING TO USDA SAFETY STANDARDS.
- THIS DISEASE IS NOT CONTAGIOUS AND THIS IS BELIEVED TO BE AN ISOLATED INCIDENT. WE WILL KEEP MONITORING AND TESTING TO ENSURE THAT THIS IS A FACT.
I believe that the finding today was a great demonstration of what an outstanding disease surveillance program we have in the United States. A system has been in place in our country since the late 1990’s to ensure that this disease is controlled and isolated if discovered within the cattle herd—there have been only 4 confirmed cases of BSE in cattle in the United States to date. A system has been in place in the United States ever since the disease was discovered to ensure that no animal with Bovine Encephalopathy ever enters the food chain.
If you would like more information on BSE, please visit BSEinfo.org. This is a great website to find accurate information on this disease. In the meantime, feel confident that the beef that you feed to your family is safe—I believe that it is with every fiber of my being. I am serving my family hamburgers tonight and I do it knowing that the beef is safe, nutritious and full of ZIP (zinc, iron and protein).