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BSE testing in the USA

Ever since Joy pointed out that since BSE (that's Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy - Mad Cow) testing isn't really being done at all to cows in the US, and that, given the fact that the disease transfers to human if we consume any neural tissue which contains the proteins-gone-wrong which cause Mad Cow, and slaughter houses aren't totally known for their clean conditions, I've been avoiding beef in the US.

Joy was looking for some other supplies lately, and came across a supplier who actually has tests available. In fact, there are now 5 different tests for BSE approved by the European Commission. However, if you try to track any of them down to, say, purchase one of them, you'll quickly discover that they're not available to US customers (note the box on the left, under "Animal Health Tests/Systems").

I can certainly understand why they might be hard to get, or for "evaluation only". But, please! One of the tests, InPro, was developed at the University of California San Francisco!

Perhaps I'm just missing something. And, sadly, all of the tests are done against neurological tissue sampled from the animal shortly after it is butchered, so there's no do-it-yourself solution to the tainted beef problem yet. But, really, folks, where's the BSE tested beef? With an incubation period as long as 30 years, vCJD, the human version, could be the next-big plague. Why are we taking such chances?


Because...hamburgers are yummy? What would America be without the hamburger? Hmmm? It's a great American symbol. Just try to take it away from us. And veggieburgers be damned! Americans want something that's dead and bleeding on their tables! It harkens back to our days as pioneers and, before that, hunters and gatherers! (The gathering part of the hamburger is the katchup and pickle topping, obvious.) It is our god-given right as namers of animals to subject them to horrible treatment, kill them, eat their meat, and make their skins into our purses! And what's a little brain mushiness 30 years down the line when we can enjoy a good, healthy, low-carb hamburger right this very moment?! Clearly, a melting brain is a small price to pay when one thinks of a juicy hamburger with pre-seered grill lines on it! We Americans laugh in the face of deadly disease born of our bad habits. Look at lung cancer, emphezyma, diabetes, heart disease, and chyrrosis! We know what we can do to stop these diseases born of our vices, but do we want to? No!

Silly you- we are Americans. We will happily continue to wallow like pigs in slop in our own filthy habits until something is wrong with us and then we'll sue the corporate bastards that let it happen! It's the American way!

We're spoiled, that it's. I'll have to pull out the full article again, but I was reading in On Food and Cooking (Amazon link) about how little meat the average human ate until about 2 centuries ago. We got along just fine.

That's not to say I think we shouldn't eat meat. But, there's a huge environmental impact to eating it. And some pretty serious health risks (remember trichinosis? It's like the Biblical equivalent of vCJD).

Anyway, all I'm saying is we could be trying a little harder to figure out whether our food is sick before we eat it. It really seems like the beef industry wants us to forget. I'm told books like Fast Food Nation have plenty more to add to this discussion, that's just as bad.

Well, to be serious for a moment, I agree- our food should be tested to make sure it's safe. But that is only feasible up to a point and, speaking as someone who nearly did die from food poisoning, there is a point where we just have to stop worrying about if everything we eat is going to kill us. Our culture is, at times, a bit obsessed with germs and how to prevent them. At a certain point, you have to stop worrying about every little thing and just eat.

You have a point. But, it's really a risk management issue.. and it is something that people do. I cook with chicken a lot, but I don't let raw-chicken tainted surfaces some in contact with my other foods, unless they'll be well cooked, too. I wash vegetables and fruits before I eat them. Some of my friends only buy organic, for similar reasons to the BSE thing - there's poison in pesticide that you can't always remove.

Yeah, the topic is kind of iffy for me, if only because I'm so divided over it. On one hand, I've been attempting to buy more natural, organic, healthy products (not just food) because our bodies are filling up with toxins. However, I'm the kind of person who rails at all the "safety" devices and regulations that are now imposed upon products, events, etc. To some extent, it's a bit of paranoia on our part. Some things are "safe" to a rediculous point that takes responsibility for ourselves and hands it to the government and manufacturers. (Case in point: baby walkers that used to be popular. You'd put your kid in them and let the kid learn to walk, it had a tray so they could eat some Cheerios at the time, and, when they got tired, they could just sit down and have a rest without plopping their asses on the floor. Well, some kids fell down stairs in them and died. So for awhile, manufacturers made them stationary with little treadmills on them. Besides looking stupid, it was just another way for parents to shirk the responsibility of actually watching their child or taking safety iniatives themselves- IE: closing doors and putting up gates. I also have a rant about Fischer-Price Little People, but it's similar and I'm tired.) At a certain point, people need to claim responsibility for their own safety and just not worry about things like if your hamburger is going to kill you in a week due to e.coli poisoning or in thirty years from mad cow disease. If people worried about that all the time, we'd all have OCD and the world would be a much more bland place to live.

So, to sum up...live a little and eat that burger, BP! ;)

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