The media is all abuzz with contradictory rumors and statements after a case of mad-cow disease (or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, BSE) was found this week in California. The beef industry assures there’s nothing to worry about. Understandably, consumers are confused.
Here is the first thing to bear in mind: mad-cow disease is the tip of a nasty iceberg called feeding-livestock-’rendered’-animal-wastes. These include slaughterhouse wastes, animals that died before slaughter, supermarkets and restaurants refuse, as well as waste from animal farms including manure and poultry litter.
Now, for a bit of scary truth: unless it is certified organic, pasture-raised¯, or grass-fed/grass-finished¯, the meat and milk that you buy at the supermarket or that you consume at restaurants come from animals that were fed such “animal proteins.” Yep, including these frozen burgers and corndogs at our kids’ schools. You don’t have to believe what I say. The Union of Concerned Scientists has all the facts on this dirty trick.
At any rate, it’s definitely something to think about when considering the advantages of a vegan diet. Or when deciding to buy direct from the local grass-rancher–even if that means reducing one’s consumption to make up for the price difference.
Rendering is a multibillion-dollar industry in the U.S.. It produces over 8 million tons of products per year, including meat and bone meal, tallow, poultry byproduct meal, blood meal, and feather meal. Renderers supply biofuel producers, soap manufacturers, the oleo chemical industry… and feed mills.
Feeding rendered animal-waste products to food-producing animals is an aberration that threatens public health and violates animal welfare. Antibiotics, pathogens and any undesirable agent that was allowed to enter the food chain at some point are transmitted from one carrier to a multitude of feeders, potentially causing damage along the way and requiring more antibiotics, and journeying all the way to the top feeders: humans.
In fact, the practice was banned in the UK in 1996, after it was discovered that the epidemic of BSE could spread to humans through exposure to contaminated beef. The European Union followed suit in 2001.
In 1997, the US and Canada enacted prohibit feeding cattle any protein derived from mammalian animals¯… with quite a few exceptions: blood and blood products; gelatin; tallow containing no more than 0.15 percent insoluble impurities; inspected meat products which have been cooked and offered for human food and further heat processed for feed (such as plate waste and used cellulosic food casings); milk products (milk and milk proteins); and any product whose only mammalian protein consists entirely of porcine or equine protein. In other words, beef and dairy cows can still be fed poultry, horse and swine proteins (including poultry litter), as well as cattle proteins with some restrictions.
Note that the diet of all other food animals, including pigs, poultry and even herbivores, is NOT affected by this partial ban on rendered animal wastes (including from their own species).
This means that the risk of BSE contamination is still present, since non-ruminants being fed proteins from cows infected with BSE could be rendered into proteins fed to cattle. The 2008 regulation 589.2001 that prohibits the use of high-risk cattle material in feed for all animal species is nothing but a legal safeguard that has enabled the feeding of rendered animal waste to food-producing animals to continue unabated.
Our children do not need to be on the receiving end of this industrial madness. Neither do we. Even if we choose to incorporate some meat and milk in our diet.
Sign this petition to make it stop (yes, even if you’re a vegetarian) : http://www.thepetitionsite.com/510/909/279/nourish9billion/