The new case of mad cow disease in California is bringing to light some unsavory feeding practices that the meat industry doesn’t want us to find out about. Most cows don’t just eat grass anymore; they’re fed slaughterhouse waste, blood, and manure, providing a route for mad cow disease to spread.
In Mad Cow California: Stop Weaning Calves on Cattle Blood I explored one such practice, in which dairy calves are weaned on milk “replacer” made with cow blood as a cheap source of protein (after all, their mother’s milk is reserved for grocery store shelves). We know blood can be infectious with mad cow disease—that’s why if you lived in Europe over the last few decades you may be banned from donating blood here in the U.S. for fear you may be incubating the human form of mad cow disease. Yet we continue the cannibalistic feeding practice of allowing dairy calves to suckle on cow blood products.
In Stop Feeding Cows Chicken Manure I related the meat industry’s fear that people will find out they’ve been cutting corners by feeding American cows tons of chicken feces every year. Just like school lunch officials willing to feed pink-slime-burgers to shave off 3 cents per pound, the livestock industry is willing to feed their wards crap, even when the public is placed at risk.
While cow blood can still be fed to cows, cow brains cannot be. So what happens to your average bovine brain? It gets fed to pigs, pets, poultry, and fish. What are the public health implications of feeding cow brains to fish? Find out in my NutritionFacts.org video posted above.
Cannibalistic feeding practices can also increase the levels of industrial pollutants in animal products. See my 3 min. video Cannibalistic Feed Biomagnification. And for more on the risks of aquaculture, check out Farmed Fish vs. Wild-Caught (2 min.), Artificial Coloring in Fish (1 min.), and Is Distilled Fish Oil Toxin-Free? (3 min).
Michael Greger, M.D.
Image credit: GloomyCorp / Flickr