Farmed Animal Watch
A Project of Animal Place

June 5, 2003                                                     (To Search This Page Press Ctrl F)
Number #19 Volume 2



BSE: "DOWNED" ANIMALS, CROSS-SPECIES TRANSMISSION
"The cow went down and that's why it was shipped. It was still alive. It was just not getting up anymore." {1} So explained the farmer of the Canadian cow found to be infected with BSE (see N.17, V.2). He said she couldn't stay standing and was trucked to slaughter.{2}  A meat inspector reported that the cow looked thin and had pneumonia.{3}  Ten feed mills received parts of her rendered body, some of which was processed into chicken feed and dry dog food {4} (some of which may have been sent to the U.S.) {5}  While giving feed containing ruminant remains to cattle is illegal, some 60 cows from 3 different farms that received the feed were ordered to be slaughtered since it could not be confirmed that they had not been given it. {6}  So far, 18 farms have been quarantined {7} and over 1,160 cattle have been killed for testing {8}. Due to inconclusive findings, another 650 cattle are to be tested. {9}  Five bulls from a herd the infected cow had been in were sent to Montana in 1997. {10}  The bulls were used for breeding purposes {11} and are thought to have spent 1-3 years at the same operation prior to having been sent to stockyards in Montana and South Dakota. {12}  They are believed to have been slaughtered after the ban on the use of cattle in ruminant feed. {13}
 
NONAMBULATORY ANIMALS: It is unknown how many nonambulatory animals ("downers") enter the Canadian food chain. {14} Animal Alliance of Canada, an animal protection organization, obtained government documents showing that in 1999 in Ontario, 639 sick cattle were approved for slaughter. Additional records were available for only 358 of them, of which 316 were slaughtered for human consumption. The others were sent to rendering to be made into animal feed and other products. {15}  The government has a code of practice that says that sick, injured, or disabled cattle in severe distress should be euthanized or slaughtered on the farm and not trucked to slaughter. However, the federal code is merely suggested practice with no regulatory force. {16} The Canadian Cattlemen's Association guidelines also recommend that nonambulatory cattle not be sent to slaughter. {17}  Nonambulatory cattle are, however, allowed to be chained and dragged from transport vehicles to slaughter. {18}
 
In Canada, as in the U.S., cattle showing classic symptoms of BSE (e.g., staggering) are to be tested for it. {19} But an animal who does not exhibit these signs and merely appears thin or listless -or exhibits no symptoms at all- could still have the disease.{20}  Infected cattle usually don't exhibit disease symptoms for about 5 years but are typically slaughtered at about 30 months of age. {21}  Sylvie Farez, a veterinarian with the Canada Food Inspection Agency, says there are too many nonambulatory animals at slaughterplants to be able to test them all. {22}  According to Consumer Union's Michael Hansen, only 3,337 Canadian cattle were tested for BSE among the 3.5 million who were slaughtered in 2002. {23}  In the U.S., only about 3,300 of an estimated 55,000 nonambulatory cattle were tested. {24}  (Other sources put the number of nonambulatory cattle at 195,000 to 1 million.) {25}  A total of 19,900 cattle were tested for BSE in the U.S. in 2002, up from 5,272 in 2001 {26} [out of an annual slaughter total of about 35,000,000]. A 2001 German study found that nonambulatory cows were 10-240 times more likely to test positive for BSE than ambulatory cows. {27}  In Canada, about 2% of cattle are slaughtered in places that are not federally licensed and have no federal inspector present. {28}  Regarding both Canada and the U.S., animal scientist and industry consultant Temple Grandin remarked: "You've got dairymen out there, they don't have to worry about cleaning up their downers. They take them to the slaughterhouse, and though less and less slaughterplants want them -your big plants just don't accept downers anymore- you've got smaller plants that are getting to be a niche market of downers....There will always be certain restaurants that'll buy that stuff." {29}  The USDA is considering banning all nonambulatory cattle from being used for human consumption (see issue #53), and has already banned its own procurement agency from purchasing the meat from these animals. {30} 
 
CROSS-SPECIES TRANSMISSION: About 44% of the 1 million cattle who die prior to slaughter are rendered. {31}  Elk and deer with chronic wasting disease (CWD), a similar disease, are also processed into animal feed. {32}  (In the U.S., some 50 billion pounds of animal bone, skin and other tissue are processed into meat meal, bone meal and other products each year.) {33} While both Canada and the U.S. have prohibited the use of most ruminant remains in ruminant feed since 1997, they are still used in feed for chickens, pigs and other nonruminant animals who are thought not to be susceptible to the disease. {34}  (It is believed that prions, the agents considered responsible for BSE, have not been found in ruminant blood, fat, milk and gelatin, which is still allowed in ruminant feed.) {35} These animals can then be killed and used in ruminant feed. {36}  There is concern that they may serve as unaffected carriers of the disease. {37}  (The surprising results of cross-species infection experimentation can be found in a June 3rd New York Times article entitled "Mad Cows, Sane Cats," at: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/06/03/science/03SPEC.html ) Due to related disease concerns, the FDA has proposed limits on the use of deer and elk in dog and cat food. {38}
 
Gleaning the Canadian Food Inspection Agency regulations, a Vancouver Sun reporter notes they are "evidence that just about anything can go into animal feed if it will make somebody a penny." {39}  One example he gives is the use of stomach and intestinal contents of pigs and poultry in the making of feed for ruminants. {40}  Similarly, U.S. regulations permit the use of poultry manure and litter in animal feed. {41}  A researcher with the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) defends the use of manure in animal feed, writing that "Feeding of animal wastes results in reducing feed costs and a lower price of animal products." {42}  Others defend rendering as an economic and ecological way of utilizing material that would otherwise have to be buried or incinerated. {43}
 
Because prions can withstand the intense heat used in the rendering process, {44} animal remains in farmed animal feed have been banned in Britain since 1996 and in the European Union since 2000. {45}  (Thousands of British cattle born after a ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban exhibited BSE symptoms.) {46}  Additionally, feed tends to stick to machinery and ruminant-inclusive feed can commingle with ruminant-exclusive feed if processed at the same facility or transported in the same trucks. {47}  It is estimated that 44,000 British cattle were infected with BSE because of this. {48}  Prohibited feed can also be illegally fed to ruminant animals, intentionally or unintentionally. {49}
 
CHANGES & COMPARISONS: Canadian officials are now considering changing the regulations that allow ruminant remains to be used in chicken and pig feed. {50} The USDA is also considering additional safeguards against BSE, including the handling of nonambulatory animals: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/oa/topics/BSE_thinking.htm A comparison of North American and European safeguards, entitled "U.S. Violates World Health Organization Guidelines for Mad Cow Disease," a June 4th report by Dr. Michael Greger, can be found at: http://organicconsumers.org/madcow/GregerBSE.cfm
 

{1} "To Market, to Market to Sell a Sick Cow," The Edmonton Journal, Paula Simmons, May 24, 2003.  http://131.104.232.9/fsnet/2003/5-2003/fsnet_may_24.htm
{2} "Staggering, Falling, Signs of Serious Health Troubles," The Edmonton Journal, Renata D.Aliesio & Paula Simons, May 24, 2003.
{3}  Same as #2.
{4} "Canada May Step Up Its Livestock Controls," The Los Angeles Times, Kim Murphy, May 30, 2003.  http://tinyurl.com/e1bo or http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-bse30may30,1,936129.story?coll=la%2Dheadlines%2Dworld
{5} "Mad Cow Prompts Dog Food Recall," CBC News, May 27, 2003.
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/02/28/health/main542336.shtml
{6}  Same as #4.
{7} "Days Ahead Critical in BSE Probe," The Western Producer, Mary MacArthur & Michael Raine, June 5, 20033.
http://www.producer.com/articles/20030605/news/20030605news01.html
{8} Same as #7.
{9} "BSE Disease Investigation in Western Canada," Canadian Food Inspection Agency, press release, June 3, 2003.
http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/anima/heasan/disemala/bseesb/bseesbindexe.shtml
{10} "Mad Cow Investigation Crosses U.S Border; 5 Bulls Traced to Farm in Montana," Canadian Press, Mary Jo LaForest, June 4, 2003.
http://www.canada.com/search/story.aspx?id=a41db2e8-7988-4ec9-a230-ac089cbfebf9 
{11} Same as #10.
{12} Same as #10.
{13} "Bulls Sold in Montana Linked to Mad Cow," Associated Press, June 4, 2003.
http://abcnews.go.com/wire/US/ap20030604_2113.html
{14} "Canada Rethinks Regulations for Inspecting ‘Downed' Cows," The Baltimore Sun, Kim Murphy, June 1, 2003. http://tinyurl.com/e1e0 or
http://www.sunspot.net/news/nationworld/bal-te.canadabeef01jun01,0,7883018.story?coll=bal-nationworld-headlines
{15} "Ailing Cattle Taint Nation's Food Chain, Vet Claims," CanWest News Service (Vancouver Sun), Nicholas Read & Janice Tibbetts, May 23, 2003.
{16} Same as #1.
{17} Same as #4.
{18} Same as #15.
{19} Same as #4.
{20} Same as #4.
{21} Same as #4.
{22} Same as #1.
{23} Same as #15.
{24} Same as #4.
{25} "U.S. Violates World Health Organization Guidelines for Mad Cow Disease," Michael Greger, June 4, 2003 (references 38 & 39). http://organicconsumers.org/madcow/GregerBSE.cfm
{26} "USDA Marks Progress on BSE Prevention Action Steps, Triples Number of Cattle Tested," American Meat Institute, January 21, 2003.  http://tinyurl.com/e1g0 or
http://www.meatami.com/Template.cfm?NavMenuID=326&template=PressReleaseDisplay.cfm&PressReleaseID=1422
{27} Same as #1.
{28} Same as #4.
{29} Same as #4.
{30} Same as #1.
{31} Same as #4.
{32} "FDA Wants Limits on Use of Deer, Elk in Pet Foods," Toledo Blade, Michael Woods, May 28, 2003.
http://www.toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20030528/NEWS08/105280064
{33} Same as #32.
{34} Same as #4.
{35} "If You Are What You Eat, then Canadian Cattle May Be Pigs or Chickens," Canadian Press, Dennis Bueckert, June 1, 2003. http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Canada/2003/06/01/101175-cp.html
{36} Same as #15 and #35, and "Beef Industry's Dirty Secret," The Wall Street Journal, Tara Parker-Pope, May 27, 2003. http://www.organicconsumers.org/madcow/wsj52703.cfm
{37} "Complacency is Real Killer in Mad Cow," The Toronto Star, Stuart Laidlaw, May 25, 2003.  http://tinyurl.com/e1hf or http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&call_pageid=971358637177&c=Article&cid=1052251652029
"We Are What We Eat," Vancouver Sun, Stephen Hume, May 31, 2003.
http://www.canada.com/search/story.aspx?id=4992c666-b7c1-43e6-bc2d-5a2d6f436a35
{38} Same as #32.
{39} Same as #37, 2nd source.
{40} Same as #37, 2nd source.
{41} Same as #35.
{42} Same as #35.
{43} "Recycling of Cow Parts Headed for Shakeup," The Edmonton Journal (FSNet), Mike Sadava, May 24, 2003.  http://131.104.232.9/fsnet/2003/5-2003/fsnet_may_24.htm
{44} Same as #4 and "Grounds for Concern," National Post, Margaret Munro, May 30, 2003. 
http://tinyurl.com/e14s or  http://www.nationalpost.com/search/site/story.asp?id=9B9B17E4-95FD-423B-BA19-4DDB57B6A55B
{45} "Ban Dangerous Feed, Experts Say," The Globe and Mail, Alan Freeman, May 29, 2003.  http://tinyurl.com/e1ku or
http://www.globeandmail.com/servlet/ArticleNews/TPStory/LAC/20030529/UEURON//?query=BSE
{46} Same as #35.
{47} Same as #45.
{48} Same as #35.
{49} Same as #2, 36, and 45.
{50} Same as #35 and #37, 1st source.
 

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