It’s illegal to feed cows food containing beef products. That doesn’t only seem common sense, doing otherwise almost seems inherently evil. It’s not moral grounds on which the law was written, but in an effort to control the spread of “Mad Cow Disease”, also known as Bovine Spongiform Encepholopathy (BSE).
Mad Cow Disease can be spread to humans (where it is called Cruetzfeldt-Jakob Disease) and lead to dementia and death. Just a few months ago, in April 2012, a cow at a rendering plant in California was found to have the disease. Because the mass-producing meat industry is all about getting Americans the most meat for the cheapest price, today’s cows might still be eating their cousins in a form of feed called “chicken litter”.
According to Mercola, chicken litter is a “rendered down mix of chicken manure, dead chickens, features, and spilled feed.” So, where’s the beef? Well chicken feed contains beef and bone meal. And this feed makes up about 33% of chicken litter. Because chicken litter is cheap—cattle producers love it.
A simple solution is available. While asking the industry to stop feeding cattle other cattle might be a little too much, testing slaughtered cattle for BSE would be relatively easy and cost-effective. In Japan, every single cow that is slaughtered is tested. In Europe, all older cattle are tested. Here in the United States, only 40,000 of 35 million cattle killed for food annually are tested. That’s far less than 1%.
So, what can you do to keep yourself and your family safe from BSE and all of the other nasty additives being fed to today’s cattle? Buy local. Get to know your local cattle farmers whether through the local farmer’s market or a co-op. Ask questions and find out what they are feeding your food.
If you don’t have access to local farms, look online for organic farmers willing to ship beef. The costs in this case will be higher, but your family’s safety is worth it.
“The USDA is simply not doing enough to prevent the spread of, and to detect, BSE cases,” according to Mercola. And they’re right. We can’t depend on the government to keep us safe. We can’t be blind, trusting consumers. We must be informed and become conscientious in what we are putting in our mouths and what type of industries we are supporting.