Recently, a cow was discovered during transport at Hanford, California to have Mad Cow Disease. South Korea has halted accepting beef from the US until fears about the disease quiet down. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USAD) is brushing off people’s worries by saying the cow never entered the food supply, so there is no cause for concern.
No cause for concern?
Consider, the only reason they discovered that the cow had Mad Cow Disease was because they selected it for random testing, killed the animal, and tested its tissue for illnesses. While the USAD is saying that this proves their food inspection system is working, even they admit there was no logical reason they chose that cow. If they had tested a different animal, the diseased animal would have gotten into the food supply. Its transport mates could have the disease, and no one would know because they weren’t tested. The USDA doesn’t even know which farm the creature came from. So while it’s trying to make it seem like “no harm, no foul” in the case of this discovery, there’s a very good chance that the disease is in our food supply, and we just don’t know it yet. And, given the length of time it sometimes takes for Mad Cow to show itself in people (up to 15 years for symptoms to appear, although death usually follows within a few weeks after that), it might be years before we do “know it.” And the human equivalent of mad cow disease is almost always fatal.
Is that enough to make people stop eating hamburgers? You tell me.