Americans loooove stuff from Ireland — rolling green hills, thatched roof cottages, saint’s days that give you an excuse to binge drink… But for the last 15 years, Irish beef has definitely not been one of them, after the mad cow scare that rocked Europe and ended beef imports into the U.S. from the countries affected. Until now, as the United States says it’ll start accepting imported beef from Ireland soon.
You may have heard that officials have confirmed one case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, better known by its headline-friendly nickname “mad cow disease,” in California; the first such incident since 2006. And even though BSE can be fatal to humans that eat tainted meat, the USDA says they have found no cause for mass concern.
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.
The Humane Society of America has sued the USDA in an attempt to close a loophole that allows downer cows who aren’t otherwise ill into the food supply. They claim the loophole increases the risk of introducing mad cow disease to humans, and leads to abuse against the cattle—like with, oh, say, a forklift. [Wall Street Journal]
Despite the fact that over the last couple of months there have been several reports of U.S. cattle infected with Mad Cow’s Disease, the USDA intends to ramp down its testing of American cattle herds, not ramp it up.