Pink Slime and Mad Cow Just the Tip of the Iceberg

From Civil Eats:  http://civileats.com/2012/04/27/pink-slime-and-mad-cow-just-the-tip-of-the-iceberg/

By Paula Crossfield
April 27th, 2012

Following on the heels of pink slime, mad cow disease (AKA bovine spongiform encephalopathy—or BSE) is back this week after a California dairy cow destined for a rendering plant that makes pet food was found to have the disease. So far, it looks like the beef industry is playing down the finding, hoping to dodge a loss in sales at home and abroad. The U.S. Department of Agriculture was quick to tell Americans that our food supply is entirely safe.

But the re-emergence of mad cow and the conversation around pink slime has re-opened questions about our food system. It has exposed how food safety falls inevitably through the cracks in a country where over 9 billion animals are being slaughtered per year and budgets for the departments that oversee these processes are being slashed. The incredible media coverage of both issues reflects a growing consumer interest in more transparency in what we’re eating and how it’s being produced.

While this is only the fourth case of mad cow in the U.S. to date, experts argue that finding it this time was a stroke of luck. Of the 34 million cows we slaughter annually in the U.S., 40,000 are being tested by USDA for the disease, down from nearly 500,000 in 2005—about one tenth of one percent.

Some would like the media focus on mad cow to be re-directed to other ongoing and serious food safety issues. Dr. Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition at New York University and author of Safe Food, is among those connecting this finding of mad cow to other unfortunately routine (and in some cases, deadly) food safety issues. “The risk of you getting this disease from eating beef is extremely small,” she said.

Continue reading at:  http://civileats.com/2012/04/27/pink-slime-and-mad-cow-just-the-tip-of-the-iceberg/

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