Bush Administration To Meatpackers: Please Stop Testing For Mad Cow Disease

The USDA has appealed a district court decision that would allow meatpackers to conduct their own tests for mad cow disease, alleging that such testing would only create “false assurances.” The original plaintiff, Creekstone Farms, wants to test all of its cattle for mad cow but the USDA has prevented it from buying the testing kits.

As we wrote a year ago, when the district court decision was handed down, the current USDA testing scheme for mad cow tests only the cattle that the USDA has dubbed “high risk,” which ends up being less than one percent of America’s beef. Creekstone Farms claimed that it has lost business in Japan and South Korea due to the mad cow scare in the U.S. a few years ago, and that it would like to reassure its domestic and international customers by testing all of its cattle. To that end, the company built its own testing center and was prepared to begin testing its beef, but the USDA, which regulates the sale of mad cow testing kits, blocked the sale. The lower court case turned on an interpretation of the Virus-Serum-Toxin Act, which regulates, among other things, products “intended for use in the treatment of domestic animals.” The district court pointed out that there is no treatment or cure for mad cow disease, and the tests are only performed on dead animals, thus the tests should not be regulated by the USDA under this act.

For its part, the meatpacking lobby (“Big Meat”) opposes Creekstone Farms, citing fears that if Creekstone tests all its beef, consumers will force other meatpackers to do so, leading to more expensive beef.

U.S. Wants to Stop Increased Testing for Mad Cow [CNN]
Creekstone Farms v. U.S. Department of Agriculture
Virus-Serum-Toxin Act
(Photo: Yogi)

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  1. trk182 says:

    So a private company is trying to go above and beyond by testing all its meat at its own cost and the USDA thinks is a bad thing? This really doesn’t make much sense to me and since it is a voluntary action by 1 company I don’t see how all that important.

    “consumers will force other meatpackers to do so, leading to more expensive beef.”

    OK Fine I’ll pay more for beef.

  2. mcnerd85 says:

    Jesus, stop being so paranoid the US! Put your faith in what the big guys say. I mean seriously, what is there to be frightened of…it’s called mad cow disease, not mad peoples disease for a reason. Right?!

  3. jusooho says:

    In South Korea, American beef has a very bad reputation now, unlike the past. When they allowed some into the country (deboned, steak-type beef only, no ground beef) even so there was a lot of protests.

    I know for many people, they will spend 3x the cost to get beef from Australia rather than to eat from USA. This new issue will only make it worse.

    This is unfortunate, because in advertisement for milk you will often see the phrase “Held to USDA standards” or for medicine “Held to US FDA standards.” But now the USDA is forcing US business to NOT test, and it is hurting the US agricultural brand there very badly.

  4. uberbucket says:

    They can make-up any lost revenue with meth labs like those kosher boys.

  5. timmus says:

    the USDA thinks is a bad thing? This really doesn’t make much sense to me.

    Corrupt government tries to prevent panic over sketchy meat safety, film at 11.

    Actually, no film at 11… let’s sweep that under the rug and run the usual stories about tots, tears, tits, pets, pets, and vets.

  6. + says:

    I think the government should just do whats right and start growing chemically enhanced food so we won’t have to worry about diseases in our meat. I’m sure they can make a plastic patty taste like bubba burgers and have 0 calories.

  7. kittenfoo says:

    isn’t it always the right wing promoting “private initiative” and “voluntary compliance” when it comes to environmental and health regulation? why would they object in this case, unless they’re in the pocket of big beef producers who throw lots of money around on capitol hill?

  8. P_Smith says:

    Meat tainted with Mad Cow Disease is permitted for sale by someone suffering Mad Cowboy Disease.

    What a shock.

  9. czarandy says:

    There’s no evidence that humans can even get CJD from eating mad cow-infected beef. So the testing is basically pointless. There’s only even been a handful of cases in the US.

    While in principle they should be able to test for whatever they want, it does seem that the USDA is right in that this may cause a public health scare (“only some of beef has been tested?!?! oh noes!”).

  10. opsomath says:

    It’s amazing how regulators step in to keep industry from responding to public concern about health, like the bovine growth hormone labeling on milk.

    I personally am pissed that the regulators want to keep companies from putting true statements on their labels because they’re afraid the extra information might confuse me. So they claim bovine growth hormone is harmless, just like Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease…I still think I’m more qualified to decide that for myself.

  11. QrazyQat says:

    Land of the free, home of the free market.

    And as for the notion that “this may cause a public health scare”, shouldn’t that be? “Europe is testing cattle at a rate of almost two thousand times that of the United States.” Shouldn’t we have that info so we can make an informed customer decision? You, czarandy, may be perfectly content to risk serious disease to save yourself some money — what, a dollar or two a year? — but millions of Americans like to know what they’re putting in their bodies.

  12. witeowl says:

    @Lamburger Helper: Soylent Green for everyone! /Insert cheers from the crowd here.

    OK, really, why is this any different from labeling milk as hormone free? I mean, there’s no definitive evidence that milk produced by cows “treated” with hormones is problematic, but we consumers are given the option to pay a premium for hormone-free milk. (Yes, I’m one of those consumers.)

    So now we’d get a choice about whether or not to pay a premium to purchase meat that we know has been tested for mad cow. Some cosumers will find it important; others will not. I’m still personally stunned that people are willing to buy meat from Wally World, given that they’re getting more than meat in those packages.

  13. jusooho says:

    @czarandy: “There’s no evidence that humans can even get CJD from eating mad cow-infected beef. So the testing is basically pointless. There’s only even been a handful of cases in the US.”

    Tell that to nations which have banned the importations of US beef… I don’t think they share your opinion.

    Besides which, it would not matter if they are testing these cattle for flat foot or baldness… The idea that government can ban a test like this is not good.

  14. sisedi says:

    I like how this article tries desperately to knock Bush down with the USDA. Does that make it more sensational? I guess if Bush or one of his close personnel told the USDA to do this or at least hired everyone that works at the USDA I wouldn’t call out your yellow journalism (correct term?).

    Yeah but this seems bad. And there is no certainty that other meat packers will follow in their footsteps. From my microecon class I learned that Oligarchies (like the wireless network providers) copy their competition if their big policy change / new offer pans out like the recent all-for-$99 plan that all of them adopted. If the meat packing companies often do this then I guess there’s cause for concern on both sides.

    So what happens if you eat meat from a madcow or drink its milk?

  15. Alex Chasick says:

    @sisedi: I don’t know if you’re referring to this article or the CNN article I link to at the end (which begins, “The Bush administration on Friday urged a federal appeals court to stop meatpackers from testing all their animals for mad cow disease”), but neither article exhibits “desperation.” USDA stands for United States Department of Agriculture, which is a cabinet-level department whose head is appointed by the president and confirmed by the senate. I’d consider a cabinet member “close personnel.”

  16. etho says:

    Yeah, I’d pay more for beef if the safety guarantee was more all-encompassing. Really, I don’t eat that much beef anyway, though not because of health concerns. But I really don’t understand why there would be a problem with letting this company test all it’s cows. I don’t think universal testing should be mandatory, but it certainly shouldn’t be forbidden.

    Though I do fail to see the Bush connection. Did he, like, appoint the USDA person that is making this decision? That’s the only way I could see a connection.

  17. etho says:

    @Alex Chasick:

    Well, I suppose that answers my question about the administration.

  18. Rachael says:

    The way in which our government regulates food production frightens me quite a bit. If we at least had the assurance that they had consumer interests at heart I might not mind so much, but it’s obvious that their primary interest is whoever pads pockets best—- those who are in the food production biz.

    And sisedi, I wouldn’t go so far as to blame Bush personally but Chasick is right in that his administration plays a hand in this so it’s not really unfair to blame his administration for this sort of issue.

    I’d wish for a muckraker like Sinclair to come along and write The Jungle Part II to expose what’s happening with the USDA and FDA these days but hey, someone comes out with a new book about this shit every other week and no one seems to notice. We’re all too busy rushing to Walmart to buy our steaks while crying about the increase in food prices to even care what goes on behind the scenes.

  19. I gotta agree to testing. I also see the UDSA point of view… only testing a few, not testing until dead.

    How about test ALL cows BEFORE they die? Then everybody can be happy.

  20. @etho:

    Technically all exec branch employees are appointed by the prez, even those that have been there since JFK.

  21. TechnoDestructo says:

    Gee, it’s just the free market doing its thing, guys. I thought you were all for that. Or is that only when it’s a convenient excuse to hide behind?

  22. Parting says:

    I

    Also, in Canada, there is a lot more random testing, mandatory by the governement. And from time-to-time, there is a cow found, then all livestock is quaranteed and put down. And USA pretends that everything is ok, WITHOUT testing a large number of cows. (If you don’t know it, it can’t hurt us policy). Which is idiotic.

    USA’s governement does not want more testing, since it will PROVE that there is a lot more disease cases that what they say now. No wonder most countries do not want USA’s meat.

  23. Parting says:

    @mcnerd85: Nothing to be afraid of, if you don

  24. Parting says:

    @czarandy: There has been a “handful of cases” because USDA barely does any testing. More testing will prove the contrary. And if you don

  25. Parting says:

    @Victo: dont

  26. sisedi says:

    @Alex Chasick: Thanks for clearing it up. I suppose if you mentioned that the top brass at the USDA were appointed by the president then I would’ve made the connection to the title myself.

  27. sisedi says:

    @Alex Chasick: On a sidenote, you look like a friend of mine if he had a kick-ass mustache.

  28. Yeah, the private farm should be able to test for what they want. The USDA has no business blocking them and they’re just caving, without a legitimate reason, to the Big Meat lobby. They raise the bugaboo that “Meat will get more expensive!!”. Who knows if it will? It might, or not. The farm is suffering because of past USDA mistakes and it’s trying to heal the corrupted image of US Beef. It should be commended for doing so.

    I gave up long ago on our government doing something just because it’d be the right thing to do. There’s always a political action group pulling the strings somewhere. Freaking lobbyist bastards.

  29. witeowl says:

    @Corporate-Shill: I don’t know about you, but I only eat meat from cows that are dead. No one is “waiting until they die”. (^,^)

  30. @Corporate-Shill:

    The testing for MCD involves removing some brain tissue. Most cows react to the procedure by dying.

  31. MoogleLally says:

    I dunno. I’ve had e. coli and my grandmother (in law) died of Mad Cow. They’re pretty awful things. But I also realize Grams was one of like 4 people in the US, and I was only one of a few hundred in 2002 to get e. coli.

    I’m not sure what to think.

  32. spanky says:

    Bush is well known for appointing industry lobbyists to regulatory bodies despite (read: because of) their clear conflicts of interests.

  33. Alex Chasick says:

    @Alex Chasick: I meant to say that the president nominates cabinet heads; he doesn’t appoint them. I also don’t envy the Secretary of Agriculture, who Wikipedia says was only in office a few days before the Westland/Hallmark mess erupted.

  34. Shiroiko says:

    @MumbletyEmma: I’d wish for a muckraker like Sinclair to come along and write The Jungle Part II to expose what’s happening with the USDA and FDA these days

    Try reading Slaughterhouse by Gail Eisnitz.

  35. VikingP77 says:

    You think v-CJD is nothing to be afraid of? That humans can’t get it from eating cows? You are all very wrong. It has an incubation period of up to 13 years. I’ve also read that people with Alzheimer’s could actually be suffering from it and are misdiagnosed. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) remains concerned about the safety of the three dozen or so drugs made from cattle tissue, with hundreds of other drug products containing bovine blood components. Cases of CJD have been transmitted through transplants of human tissue, including the cornea and dura mater (brain membrane), but none have been associated with transfusions of blood donated from CJD sufferers.
    All this because people want to feed cows and sheep to cows. DISGUSTING. Anyways go out and read about how horrible it is to go through before you think its okay not to be testing our beef!!!!!!!!

  36. @Daniel Alderman:

    Then we need to get a test that is done BEFORE the cow dies.

    We have a lot of medical tests that are just screening tests. Personally I had a PSA. An elevated PSA does not mean that I have cancer … a biopsy must be performed for the confirmation… but an elevated PSA is indicative
    of cancer or other problems.

    Every Cow should have a similar blood test performed before slaughtering. I know I will be happier. The cow won’t mind the blood test as much as what comes next.

  37. TechnoDestructo says:

    @Corporate-Shill:

    I’m pretty sure they have to actually test the brain or spinal tissue.

  38. RvLeshrac says:

    @czarandy:

    Yeah, the mountains of evidence saying the opposite notwithstanding.

    But then again, others beat me to it.

    @MoogleLally:

    That’s likely because testing for CJD in the US is very, very rare. If you don’t test for it, people just don’t “die from it,” they’re listed as some other cause.

    @TechnoDestructo:

    Brain biopsies can be done. Unfortunately, PETA would immediately start screaming and whining about live biopsies.

  39. That’s a brilliant marketing decision–“This meat is less likely to kill you than other meats.”

  40. bobpence says:

    The problem with 100% testing is an example of the “tragedy of the commons.” If I represent 1% of the industry but start testing all of my cows, instead of about 1%, false positives double overall. The whole industry pays for the uncertainty caused by my false positives. But I alone benefit from the false assurance given by my 100% testing. And the status would not stay quo; other processors would follow my lead, with the net effect of shutting the industry down due to all the false positives.

    This is where, in an economy that is partly regulated rather than either laissez faire or centrally planned, government has to step in and be the mean daddy who tells the child “no.”

    And there is a lesson here for the meat processing industry from the manufacturing industry: You can achieve quality goals merely by testing. You have to build in consistent quality from the start, otherwise you end up with a lot of waste and substandard product still slipping through your tests. The cow farmers and beef processors need to follow good practices, especially with regard to feed quality and sources and animal treatment, and so will produce a good product.

  41. spinachdip says:

    @MumbletyEmma: I think Eric Schlosser qualifiers as Sinclair II. Fast Food Nation was essentially the modern day Jungle, an expose about the the industrialization of our foods and how the meat processing industry reflects what’s happening to America as a whole, particularly how we treat our poorest workers, but the popular reaction was basically, “Ewww, a finger in a hot dog!”

    And FWIW, Fast Food Nation was on the NY Times best seller, so I think a couple of people noticed.

  42. trk182 says:

    @Corporate-Shill: How about test ALL cows BEFORE they die? Then everybody can be happy.

    Living things hate it when you biopsy their brains.

  43. bohemian says:

    Again with trying to restrict consumer information so a couple of mega corporations can sell more sub-standard product at a higher profit.

    They know damn well if smaller outfits start providing better , in demand products it will cut into their sales and that is what this is all about.

    Just like the whole thing over hormone treated milk. There are lots of people who want the information to make an informed decision on their milk purchase. Big agra and the Bush admin don’t want people to have information.

    Stop asking questions, put a yellow ribbon magnet on your SUV and go shopping at the mall. It is your patriotic duty.

    I can’t wait til this insane tard is out of office.

  44. SBR249 says:

    While I don’t approve of the lax testing standards of the FDA, I’m afraid that given the current regulatory situation I would have to stand with the minority and side with the FDA.

    Given that Mad Cow testing kits are highly regulated by the FDA, it is fair to assume that private testing for mad cow is extremely rare and that a majority of all testing that occurs in the US is done by te government. In light of that, it is also fair to assume that proper testing standards for mad cow is not widely publicized if at all. (At least, as a consumer, I haven’t seen any “FDA certified Mad Cow Free” labels at the grovery store.) Therefore, given this lack of standardization and oversight, I don’t want my beef producers to start testing for mad cow willy nilly without proper regulation and validation. If quality testing in the parmaceutical industry have to conform to these standards, then it is only fair that food testing do so also.

    I would rather eat my beef in suspense than be falsely reassured as to its quality.

    *Ducks to avoid flames coming this way*

  45. TVarmy says:

    @trk182: This is the very opposite of capitalism. The government is FIGHTING a change that would help consumers and offer them more choice. You don’t have to be a libertarian to say that this is bad.

  46. rellog says:

    I cannot believe there are still people out there supporting Bush and his policies. He doesn’t even represent republican policies…. it is COMPLETELY corporate interest.

    For those of you thinking this had nothing to do with Bush appointing industry leaders to cabinet positions…. do us all a favor and eat some mad cow infected meat and get it over with already…

  47. Purrrz says:

    I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at some of the idiotic comments about this…hello middle America! There seems to be about 3 informed people commenting here. CJD, Creusfeldt-Jacov’s disease, is absolutely horrible. I know. I watched my cousin die of it. She was misdiagnosed as perhaps having premature Alzheimers, and within 3 1/2 weeks of original onset of symptoms, she was dead. The statistics I’ve seen quoted here on this comment list, “one of 4 in the US”, are flat out wrong. Do your own research, but get an INFORMED opinion before you make ignorant comments about a disease you sure as hell do not want to get.

  48. Rachael says:

    @Shiroiko:

    Will do. Thanks for the info- it’s on my to-read!

    @spinachdip:
    You’re right, I think Fast Food Nation was really revolutionary and was a fantastic book. There are others that are pretty popular now (Omnivore’s Dilemma, for example) but it seems strange: lots of us enjoy reading this and are shocked by the contents, but can’t stop ourselves. I speak for myself as well, but I remember what my mom said: “It [Fast Food Nation] was horrific to read, but frankly I eat at McDonald’s just as much as I ever did- I know where it comes from, but it’s quick and easy.”

    So I guess it’s less about muckraking, more about paying attention. I’m just now trying to modify my diet so I’m getting a little less corn syrup each day.

    @SBR249:
    I certainly won’t flame you but will just echo my earlier statement: if I felt like the decisions made by the FDA and USDA were in the best interests of the consumer, I would feel comfortable with their rationale. But I do not feel that they genuinely do care most about the safety of average joes; they’re easily swayed by those who care most about the “bottom line” on their food. I think this is less about chipping away at the authenticity of a test and more about making sure that the bottom line for a meatpacker is kept as low as possible; they’re right in saying that, if one company wanted testing, we’d want it out of more people. But that doesn’t degrade the test, that just raises prices. We’d see the increased cost as consumers, but personally I’d consider it worth it. Though to be honest, just that test isn’t going to fix all the ills of the meatpacking industry.

  49. witeowl says:

    @Corporate-Shill: I’m not sure what the point of that would be. “This cow is healthy; go ahead and slaughter it. That cow is sick; you need to put it down.” What’s the benefit of testing before slaughter?

  50. SBR249 says:

    @MumbletyEmma: While I agree that ulterior motives and special interests do come into play in this case, I do feel the need to point out that quality testing in the US for products intended for human consumption is regulated by law. In order to be used, a test’s validity, precision, suitability, and applicability must be proven and the test conductors are usually subject to audits and inspections. While the validity of the test method itself is not in doubt at the moment, the resources needed for proper training and oversight should an entire industry start 100% testing is staggering. For the meat industry (even one company) to go test crazy at this point is not only premature but will also severely strain the already overtaxed regulatory system. In short, even if the consumers demand it, testing every cow is rather infeasible right now.

  51. Ayleron says:

    @mcnerd85:

    Even though it is called Mad Cow disease, people have died because of it, it can kill humans.

  52. witeowl says:

    @Ayleron: Um… you might want to have your sarcasm-o-meter tuned.

  53. fleshtone says:

    who do you trust less, big meat (he he) or the FDA? i’d rather not let a company police itself, not when public health is concerned. i’m not sure why the testing equip is banned, but if the reason is so the FDA can monopolize testing, then that might be a good policy, provided the FDA is competent, which is doubtful. obviously, the whole thing is broken: profit-above-all business models that are under-regulated.

    as a consumer, i think the question should not be “what is safe?” so much as “who do i want to support?” i can’t justify giving money to big meat (he he again), so i don’t. i don’t need big meat to get my protein:)

  54. Trai_Dep says:

    To paraphrase Kayne West, “George Bush hates meat-eating people”.

  55. spinachdip says:

    @fleshtone: It it makes you feel any better, the Big Agri opposes voluntray testing, and is a major reason takes the “out of sight, out of mind” approach to regulation. It’s a mistake to think of Big Meat and FDA as adversaries – they enable each other.

  56. guymandude says:

    @witeowl: Dude… 2 words:
    Mass Spectrometer. NOTHING hides from the mass spec.

    This:
    “… there’s no definitive evidence that milk produced by cows “treated” with hormones is problematic …”
    is wrong. Feel free to look it up. And I have yet to see ANYONE here give a single, credible, logic reason why private industry shouldn’t test itz own meat if it wantz to. ANYONE care to step up to that plate? I would think the legal liability (diz iz amerika and weez all about legal liability) would compel you to test your meat. Doesn’t that simple fact speak volumez?

  57. spinachdip says:

    @MumbletyEmma: I think Schlosser pretty much expected the reaction, for people to be shocked, but not ultimately huge their behavior.

    If I remember Fast Food Nation correctly, he puts the blunt of the blame on the consumers, because they are the very group for whom food industry reform is in their best interest, and market forces have proven to be more effective than legislation in getting the fast food industry to change.

    But like I said, the book is less about food than about consumerism in general – people disregard their own wellbeing and long term costs, not to mention ethical considerations, for a lower price tag (which isn’t necessarily reflective of real costs).

  58. witeowl says:

    @guymandude: You do realize that there’s no definitive evidence for gravity either, right? (That’s why it’s still a theory.)

  59. TechnoDestructo says:

    @witeowl:

    Might make it harder to get the potentially contaminated meat mixed in with the uncontaminated.

  60. TechnoDestructo says:

    @sisedi:

    People pretty much take it for granted these days that a regulatory agency fighting against regulation is a result of the influence of the Bush administration, because that has pretty much been their trademark with regard to regulatory agencies, and it is why they’ve had so many people resign (apparently the Bush administration cannot hold on to anyone with a conscience).

    Also you mean oligOPOLY. Not that the two don’t end up being effectively the same thing if left alone long enough.

  61. TechnoDestructo says:

    @jusooho:

    Yeah, there are rumors going around South Korea that the US only sends inferior quality meat overseas, stuff that is unfit for US consumers.

    Haha…the joke’s on them…it’s the US consumers that get the unfit meat!

  62. QrazyQat says:

    I like how this article tries desperately to knock Bush down with the USDA. Does that make it more sensational? I guess if Bush or one of his close personnel told the USDA to do this or at least hired everyone that works at the USDA I wouldn’t call out your yellow journalism (correct term?).

    Who do you think appoints the people who run the USDA? Even a little Googling would correct your ignorance: “More than a dozen other high-ranking USDA officials appointed under Bush also have ties to the meat industry.” “The USDA opposed such labeling. The person making the agency’s case, Deputy Undersecretary Charles Lambert, knew the arguments against such labels. He’d made them as a lobbyist for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.”

    The problem with 100% testing is an example of the “tragedy of the commons.”

    Another of those examples of rightwing shills using phrases they know nothing about yet figure will resonate; typical magical thinking. Yeah, Japan’s meat industry has been devestated by their 100% testing, hasn’t it? Wait, breaking news… it hasn’t? Well gee, that kinda makes the above phrase dropping even more of a dropping… a big heaping pile of dropping.

  63. spinachdip says:

    @witeowl: A couple of things:
    *What are you talking about? There’s plenty of evidence for gravity.
    *As Stephen J. Gould says, “facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty”, and gravity is both theory AND fact.

  64. Techno Viking says:

    Mcnerd85 you must be an idiot right. Mad Cow disease is so dangerous that it’s like putting you down with meds so you won’t suffer from intense pain. The protein prions attack your central nervous system and destroy your neuron cells. This of curse takes time and within a year your mind is a blank. Don’t confuse this with the Alzheimer’s since that only prevents new memories from forming and you forget old ones. This is much worse because it creates gaps in the brain. Your dendrites that connect from cell to cell break down so there is a hole in the neural net. America had a case like that. One young girl ate a cheeseburger and then that prion from a cow triggered a reaction and her own brain cells were dying off and there is nothing anyone could do. It’s worse than death sentence because it’s a slow death. So before you open your mouth and say something idiotic, go and do research. This will also raise your IQ a bit.

  65. spinachdip says:

    @Techno Viking: Might want to check the expiration date on your Sarcasm Meter.

  66. TechnoDestructo says:

    @bobpence:

    If you do 100 percent testing, your false positives don’t enter the food supply, they just eat into your margins (in the short term…mysterious spikes in mad cow disease later on could utterly destroy your entire industry). Depending on the false NEGATIVE rates of your tests (which could be determined to some degree by re-testing) there is no “false assurance.”

    And what exactly is the common that is being affected by tragedy in this case even if you WEREN’T wrong?

  67. JackHandey says:

    This just in: Ford, GM, and Chrysler have been forced by the U.S. Department of Transportation to quit testing the safety of their antilock brake systems. According to one source, testing would create “false assurances” of safety. In addition, making sure that rigorous standards are followed during the design and manufacture of brake systems would only “lead to more expensive cars” and that any “false positives” would “scare the hell out of consumers and threaten the financial health of the nation’s automotive industry.”

  68. witeowl says:

    @spinachdip: Ahem. I did not say that there was not “plenty of evidence”. I said that there was no definitive* evidence. Two different things. My point was going back to the hormone-free milk and graymandude’s argument. Honestly, I think I was so flummoxed by his comments that that’s the only coherent thing I could respond with.

    * Supplying or being a final settlement or decision; conclusive.

  69. Parting says:

    @JackHandey: What health? American cars already loosing more and more customers to Japanese makers. Most people do not trust American brands.

  70. Parting says:

    @TechnoDestructo: Even Russia banned some USA’s meats. That’s a very bad sign.

  71. spinachdip says:

    @witeowl: Eh, fair enough.

    I was more bothered, in an anal nerdy way, by your statement that gravity was “still” a theory, which implies that it has a possibility of not being a theory someday. It’s like saying, “Barack Obama has not been voted President. That’s why he’s still a black man.” One doesn’t really affect the other.

  72. Parting says:

    @SBR249: And I would rather not. I have a RIGHT as a consumer to choose a company that caters to my DESIRES, especially when it does not endanger my health. Also, once the said testing is popular, reputable certification agencies will appear. (Look at “fair trade” industry).

    If people can get Kosher meet, why cannot I get my mad cow tested meat?

  73. cmdrsass says:

    The title of this article is as misleading as any on Digg.

  74. Parting says:

    @cmdrsass: Not really.

  75. witeowl says:

    @spinachdip: Man, I come to “the internets” to get away from coworkers like the one who has me speaking like an ubergeek by no longer using “theory” when I really mean “hypothesis”. So now people look at me funny every time I come up with a potential, tentative explanation for a behavior.

    Nevertheless, I’ll eliminate the “still” in future uses. I’m keeping the ironic “only”, though, as that’s the part that really pisses off the anti-evolutionists.

  76. spinachdip says:

    @witeowl: I’m sorry, but we nerdy nerds are infiltrating teh internets after years of standing on the sidelines.

  77. Buran says:

    @witeowl: Didn’t seem sarcastic to me. Look up Creutzfeld-Jakob disease and be enlightened.

  78. witeowl says:

    @Buran: You’re seriously saying that mcnerd85‘s pro-blind-faith in the government and the idea that people wouldn’t suffer if they ate tainted beef wasn’t sarcastic? Really?

  79. BlackFlag55 says:

    I highly recommend growing your own beeves.

    Seriously. Find a local herd and offer to buy in. Get a half and freeze it at the local butcher. Anything but meat packing beef. Ye gods … read The Jungle, Upton Sinclair.

    And as to ‘trusting the government’? Ask an Indian.

  80. SBR249 says:

    @Victo: No doubt you should have that right, however where safety is concerned, those “rights” of choice unfortunately sometimes goes out the window. Food safety issues such as testing is often already part of the law and usually highly regulated, unlike “fair trade” which is a fairly new concept. Quality and safety testing cannot be done on a whim without proper supervision and regulation to guarantee the validity of the tests-something I’m afraid the government is rather ill equipped to handle.

    I think the point I’m trying to make is that should such activities (tests) be unregulated, as they undoubtedly will be, the consumers would have no way to know how credible their results are. This leads to situations where consumers think they are making informed decisions but actually lack the necessary information. While you personally are fine with this (or even want this), it is the responsibility of the relevant government agencies to avoid such possibilities as there are much more at stake (public health and food quality) than whether some Guatemalan coffee farmers are getting fair deals for their coffee.

  81. ninabi says:

    It has been calculated that at the reduced rate of testing currently done in the US, it would be another 7-8 years before another mad cow case was found.

    False security. Cheaper, too.

    Any mad cow not tested and processed ends up in our food supply in several ways. 1st- on our plates. 2nd- unusable cattle material can be fed to chickens. The chicken manure is processed into feed to cattle. A small amount thus infects more cows, expanding the scope of the problem.

    So the government argues that testing is bad? That Creekstone’s facility is incompetent? How many labs do we have in the US that test for how many other diseases? Why only one for mad cow? And testing there is sketchy at times. The brain has to be fresh. You can’t let it sit around and deteriorate. Oh, and if a head gets sent in, maybe they might test it in the facility in Iowa. Maybe. It took a lot of pressure to get them to test and admit to one of the cases in the US.

    The footdragging by the USDA does not encourage me. They ruin their credibility with consumers by their “Don’t test, don’t find” policies.

    I want beef tested.

    Oh, and I’d like CJD to be a reportable disease in all 50 states. Funny how the story of the 20 or so people in the NJ area who died of it went unreported (the only connection was to attending a racetrack where they ate burgers).

  82. CMU_Bueller says:

    @spinachdip: The other major problem that Schlosser found is that the USDA is responsible for policing AND promoting agriculture. Does that seem mutually exlcusive to anyone else?

  83. Gokuhouse says:

    Everyone! Sit down and shut up if you’re a non-Christian! The USDA knows what they are doing. They should be able to control what testing a private company does on it’s meat. Duh! Doesn’t that make sense to you? Well, not me either. There is something fishy going on here. It almost seems as if a government agency is trying to keep something out of public eye…..

  84. reiyaku says:

    this can go both ways… if it will not cause higher prices… im with it… if not, ill go vegetarian…

  85. BigElectricCat says:

    @BlackFlag55: “And as to ‘trusting the government’? Ask an Indian.”

    Or a veteran.

  86. zyodei says:

    Here in Korea, the #1 issue on the news like EVERY single night is that the president allowed U.S. beef to be imported again after a 6 year mad cow caused hiatus. his approval has dropped to like 24% only a couple months after being inaugruated, mainly because of this issue. It’s a huge national scandal, everybody is freaking out about it.

    So, it is not just people in America who are paying attention who know that factory farmed U.S. beef is shit.

  87. yagisencho says:

    Guess I’ll continue to boycott beef (began in 1992). It’s unsafe, unhealthy, and too costly to the environment. A shame it’s so tasty.

  88. RvLeshrac says:

    @witeowl:

    The problem with testing them *after* slaughter is that prions are blood-borne and are nearly impossible to completely destroy.

    They thrive in temperatures that are typically used to autoclave medical equipment. This is why the testing is so expensive, none of the testing equipment can be re-used.

    This is also why autopsies are not/infrequently performed on suspected CJD patients.

  89. ShadowFalls says:

    Lets see… Beef becoming a little more expensive or unsafe Beef… Hard decision, anyone got an answer?

    This will lead to issues of people claiming they test and do not actually perform the act. This can actually lead to people thinking they are better protected when in reality it has far less meaning.

    From all you have seen about companies, you know there are always ones trying to cut corners and pulling fast ones.

  90. Mr. Gunn says:

    czarandy: Your intelligent, considered, nuanced opinion will do you no good here.

    witeowl: It’s protection from the madness of crowds. I’m sure there are tons of people would buy only meat labeled AIDS free, if producers were allowed to label it so. Large producers could then use this to their advantage, by testing for all kinds of stuff that the smaller farms couldn’t afford to, running them out of business. It’s just a hunch, but I think the people who buy things labeled hormone free/GMO free don’t want that to be the end result.

    /Have you stopped beating your wife?

  91. RvLeshrac says:

    @Mr. Gunn:

    The difference here is that AIDS is not found in cattle. vCJD is.

    Maybe we should stop labelling dairy products “pasteurized,” too, since maybe some dairies would do better financially if they didn’t have to go through that whole pesky process.

  92. Buck_Johnson says:

    It would only cost 20 dollars per cow to test for this disease, which translate to 10 cents extra per pound. This has nothing to do about it being to expensive or goes against stated USDA scientific procedures (which is a straw man because for the simple fact they are going above and beyond the minimum requirement and they don’t want them to do it).

    It’s about them being afraid and knowing good and well that if this is done that there will be alot of animals that will show they have the BSE disease. That is what they are afraid of, the dirty secret that the federal bodies that are supposed to protect us have been turning a blind eye on this and it will show that many of the big and small herds may in fact have multiple BSE infected cattle. And if that happens they will be required to kill the whole herd (tens of thousands) and start over. I can’t imagine them not letting them buy those kits just to make sure about THEIR cattle. They use these flimsy excuses that don’t hold up at all.

    [en.wikipedia.org]

  93. RvLeshrac says:

    @Buck_Johnson:

    But note the large percentage of individuals who agree with the USDA on this.

    I continue to weep for scientific education in this country.