April 25th, 2012
10:30 PM ET

Controversy over mad cow disease testing

The first U.S. case of mad cow disease in six years was detected in California. Anderson asked  Dr. Sanjay Gupta about the cause of the condition. Gupta said "it's pretty hard" to spread mad cow disease, even among cattle. "Likely it's spread by cows eating body parts of other cows," he said. "Specifically the body parts are the central nervous system body parts."

Elise Odabashian from Consumers Union believes it's not an isolated incident. When talking about the procedure and sample size, she told Anderson, "The USDA tests only about 40,000 of  35 million cows killed ever year. That's just a tiny fraction . So they're not looking very hard for mad cow disease, and so they're not finding it very often."

Odabashian thinks there should be more testing, but she also suggests an alternative method for surveillance. "There are private companies who want to spend their own money to test their own beef so they can sell their beef to other countries that have said they didn't want to buy U.S. beef. Those companies in the United States that want to test their own meat have been prohibited from doing so by the USDA" she said.

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Filed under: Mad cow disease • Medical News
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Autumn Kelley

    I am a vegetarian, and I understand what the process is of the time any animal is born, to when it is slaughtered and sent to the supermarket.

    Cows for example; once they are born, they are separated from their mothers and many are kept in crates, or huddled together in giant pens. This is a cause for disease. when animals live on top of each other in their own filth the animals themselves will be sick.
    Farmers take no time to check on health, the animals could die in the pen where the healthy cows could precede to get sick.The cows are also being fed more than just hormones, they are fed anything and everything to fatten the animal up, protein enhanced with steroids is a go to for farmers.

    Even when meat says it is "natural," "organic" or "free-range" it doesn't mean you are getting meat from farms where the animals are being treated any better. It means the government has set rules/codes by which theses farms should follow.Such as 'open air" which animals can't enjoy because there are so many animals in a confined space and they cannot move. But just like the animals at a factory farm these animals are just abused; By antibiotics, steroids, cruel living environments. these animals are also slaughtered and mishandled in the same way.

    Meat is no longer safe to eat, the cows, or any livestock are kept in very harsh and uncomfortable conditions creating diseases. All animals are slaughtered in the same slaughter houses, so even if your beef is "organic' "free-range" or "natural" it slaughtered in the same place as all the "regular" meat with every animal mixed in.These animals are also genetically manipulated making them grow faster, If money weren't the number one concern, our food would be handled much better.

    May 1, 2012 at 3:12 am |
  2. J Klein

    The U.S. beef industry tests less than 0.1% of cows slaughtered each year for mad cow disease.
    I wonder how many infected cows slip through the system.

    The FDA banned feeding risky cow parts (such as brain, spinal cord) to cattle, but these cow parts are still used to make animal feed and pet feed.
    For example, cow parts are used to make chicken feed.
    And over 1 million pounds of CHICKEN LITTER are fed to cattle each year.
    (Chicken litter consists of floor wastes that include feces and spilled feed.)
    I'm not lying. Look it up.

    So, an infected cow may be turned into chicken feed, then become chicken litter, then be fed back to cows, then end up as steak on your dinner table. Appetizing, huh?

    The American public has spoken out about "pink slime" beef.
    Now it's time for us to speak out and ban the practice of feeding cows animal feces!

    April 27, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
  3. sdintz

    Why isn't anyone on CNN asking the obvious question? WHY ARE COWS EATING MEAT....AND SPECIFICALLY OTHER GROUND UP COWS!!!!!! Cattle have a complex stomach system which has 4 components, designed specifically for GRASS!!!!!!! GRASS PEOPLE.....GRASS!!!!!!!!

    April 26, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  4. Dolly Urdanick

    Anderson: You need to tell folks about the human form of mad cow disease called "Creutzfeldt-Jakob" Disease. Symptoms are identical to mad cow disease... people need to know about this deadly disease and that it is very prevalent in the US. Tell folks about CJDVOICE (www.cjdvoice.org) and information and support group that explains CJD very well. People who have lost a loved one to CJD telll their stories on this website.

    You also need to tell people that deer and elk have "chronic wasting" disease which is the same thing as mad cow disease or Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. Different names... but the disease is still deadly and has the exact same symptoms... whether it is a cow, human being, deer, elk, or cat, or mink.

    Vegatarians have also died from CJD... so that eliminate the theory of contracting CJD from contaminated beef. The scientists and doctors are not being forthcoming and honest about this disease. A lot of cases diagnosed as "Alzheimers" are misdiagnosed and are actually Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.

    April 26, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  5. Claudio Perfetti

    Anderson: I just watched this segment. Why on earth aren't you or Sanjay asking "why are we feeding body parts of cows to other cows?". That is the root cause of all of this. We wouldn't need to test for mad cow if we just stopped that practice. We don't feed human body parts to humans. Why do we think doing it with animals is sustainable?

    April 25, 2012 at 10:45 pm |