Are US pets at risk for Mad Cow Disease Yes

In 2001 and again in 2003 The Harvard Center for Risk Analysis looked at the risk of mad cow disease to U.S. citizens and determined the risk to be very low to humans.

Their study felt that as long as the FDA and USDA continue with current restrictions to processing 'at risk' meat materials into human food and subsequently, with the current restrictions to processing 'at risk' animal material into animal feed of ruminants (cattle, sheep, pigs) the risk to humans would remain very low. However it is a different story for our pets. It is legal, acceptable, and common practice for 'at risk' materials to be processed into pet food. Existing U.S.

rules regarding risk materials got their foundation from an outbreak of mad cow disease in the United Kingdom. During the 1980's the UK had a significant problem with mad cow disease, which ended up being responsible for the death of close to 1000 people. During the height of the problem it was reported that the disease spread to various animals including cats.

When cats were diagnosed in the UK, European pet food manufacturers voluntarily agreed to restrict the use of 'at risk' materials from use in pet food. "In 1996, however, Agriculture Minister Angela Browning informed the House of Commons that 'mammalian meat and bone meal-powdered residue from culled and rendered cattle is used in pet food.' Labour Parliament member and microbiologist Martyn Jones called Browning's admission 'an astounding revelation.

'This stuff is so risky that they are not even allowed to bury it,' Jones stated. 'Yet they are getting rid of it by passing it on to pet food manufacturers.' In the U.S.

the FDA's current regulations allow 'at risk' materials to be processed into pet food - yet they also realize this is putting our pets at risk. In 2003 a confirmed diagnosed mad cow disease animal was thought to be processed into pet food. Dr.

Lester Crawford of the FDA told United Press International "If we determine that some of it was headed for pet food, we would likely recall that," Crawford said. But he noted the agency would not take any action until it gets confirmation, which probably will occur on Monday. The main threat among pets is cats because they "are susceptible to BSE," he said. Dr.

Crawford said there is no way of knowing how much pet food would have to be recalled. But he said the FDA does not consider the infectious agent, called a prion, can be diluted to safe levels, so even if a small batch of infected pet food was mixed with a ton of other food, "the ton would have to be destroyed." The FDA understands the threat of mad cow disease to U.S. pets, yet they have not bothered to change the regulations to protect our pets. Recently a congressional panel began listening to testimony regarding 'at risk' material and the most recent beef recall.

Many have been called to testify including the Humane Society. It seems the Humane Society has completely changed their stance on at risk materials in the past four years. From a 2004 article ""Dr.

Michael Greger of the Humane Society of the United States said downer cows that don't pass inspection often wind up in pet food. They yield much less revenue than those that remain standing. The financial incentive for plant operators and employees, then, is to force hurt and sick cows to stand by any means necessary, rather than put them down, Greger said. "A truly comprehensive ban on meat from downer animals is needed," he said.

Greger urged lawmakers to support the Downed Animal and Food Safety Protection Act, a bill that would ban processing downed animals. That, he said, would take away the incentive for plant workers to prolong the life of a suffering animal. Instead, he said, all downer cows could be euthanized and used for pet food or other products that don't involve human consumption." Sadly today the Humane Society - an organization that is supposed to protect all pets - considers it safe for U.S.

pets to consume 'at risk' materials. The Humane Society considers it safe for U.S. pets to consume euthanized sick animals and for our pets to consume the euthanizing drug.

This is a completely different opinion since August 2004. It causes a pet owner to wonder if any large corporations have made significant donations to the Humane Society since 2004. This is a real threat to U.S. pets.

In late February 2008 there was a confirmed case of mad cow disease found in a six year old cow in Alberta, Canada. The good news here is that Canadian regulations do NOT all the processing of any 'at risk' materials including a ban on use in pet food. We have to hope the FDA and the USDA will make changes to U.S. regulations before something terrible happens here. Pet food and pet treat ingredients that could contain processed 'at risk' materials or any euthanized animal are: Meat Meal, Meat and Bone Meal, Meat By-Products, Beef By-Products, Beef By-Product Meal, Animal Fat, and Animal Digest.

Please read the ingredient listing of your pet's food and treats.

To learn more about pet food and pet food ingredients, visit Susan Thixton's website Register for the free newsletter and if you want to see reviews on hundreds of pet foods, subscribe to Petsumer Report


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