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Bill Seeks Permanent Ban on Downer Slaughter at Meat Plants

Congressman Gary Ackerman, D-NY, this week reintroduced a bill to permanently prohibit the slaughter at meat plants of unhealthy livestock that cannot walk because they are diseased, injured or ill, and to require that these animals be humanely euthanized.

Lead cosponsor of the bipartisan bill, the Downed Animal and Food Safety Protection Act (H.R. 3704), is Congressman Peter King, R-NY.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has banned the slaughter of non-ambulatory cattle since 2009, after a 143 million-pound beef recall the year before. That recall was prompted by a Humane Society undercover video showing employees abusing cows at Westland/Hallmark Meat in Chino, CA, a plant that has since closed. Included in the recall were 37 million pounds of beef sent to the National School Lunch program.

It was a Class II recall — considered minimal health risk — and at the time, agriculture official insisted the rule change was not being done for public-health reasons, but to increase consumer confidence by eliminating confusion about the handling of animals referred to as “downers.”

Five years earlier, the USDA had tightened regulations to prohibit the slaughter of downer cattle after a case of mad-cow disease in Washington state.

Ackerman says downed cattle are 50 times more likely to have mad cow disease (also known as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or BSE) than ambulatory cattle that are suspected of having BSE. Of the 20 confirmed cases of mad cow disease in North America since 1993, at least 16 have involved downer cattle, he said.

In his news release, Ackerman said his bill would improve existing regulations by making the ban on downer cattle permanent. Under current law, he noted, the USDA can loosen or repeal their rules at any time. The Congressman also said his measure would extend the ban to all livestock – not just cattle – and close an existing loophole that permits the slaughter of downed calves.

“This legislation is essential to ensuring Americans that our nation is doing all it can to safeguard the country’s food supply,” Ackerman wrote. “Americans should not have to worry whether the food they eat is from sick or diseased livestock and we cannot allow consumer confidence in the beef industry to ever be compromised again. Animals that are ill or injured should be humanely euthanized instead of being dragged through slaughterhouses then sold to restaurants, supermarkets or butchers for human consumption, a sick and disgusting practice.”

© Food Safety News
  • Nancy Fleming

    Why did it take so long?
    Thank you yes but—How many other ways to die from food industry disease need attention?
    Count them you and your kids eat too.Mr and Ms.congressperson.

  • Mary Finelli

    In addition to being a grave human health concern, slaughtering nonambulatory animals for food is egregiously cruel. Banning the practice is a strictly common sense matter. It should have been stopped decades ago. See: http://www.nodowners.org

  • > > > Ackerman says downed cattle are 50 times more likely to have mad cow disease (also known as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or BSE) than ambulatory cattle that are suspected of having BSE. Of the 20 confirmed cases of mad cow disease in North America since 1993, at least 16 have involved downer cattle, he said. 95%) downer or dead dairy cattle…
    http://web.archive.org/web/20030516051623/http://www.bseinquiry.gov.uk/files/mb/m09/tab05.pdf
    2010-2011
    When L-type BSE was inoculated into ovine transgenic mice and Syrian hamster the resulting molecular fingerprint had changed, either in the first or a subsequent passage, from L-type into C-type BSE. In addition, non-human primates are specifically susceptible for atypical BSE as demonstrated by an approximately 50% shortened incubation time for L-type BSE as compared to C-type. Considering the current scientific information available, it cannot be assumed that these different BSE types pose the same human health risks as C-type BSE or that these risks are mitigated by the same protective measures.
    This study will contribute to a correct definition of specified risk material (SRM) in atypical BSE. The incumbent of this position will develop new and transfer existing, ultra-sensitive methods for the detection of atypical BSE in tissue of experimentally infected cattle.
    http://www.prionetcanada.ca/detail.aspx?menu=5&dt=293380&app=93&cat1=387&tp=20&lk=no&cat2
    2011 Monday, September 26, 2011
    L-BSE BASE prion and atypical sporadic CJD
    http://bse-atypical.blogspot.com/2011/09/l-bse-base-prion-and-atypical-sporadic.html
    Saturday, March 5, 2011
    MAD COW ATYPICAL CJD PRION TSE CASES WITH CLASSIFICATIONS PENDING ON THE RISE IN NORTH AMERICA
    http://transmissiblespongiformencephalopathy.blogspot.com/2011/03/mad-cow-atypical-cjd-prion-tse-cases.html
    Tuesday, November 01, 2011
    Could we face the return of CJD? Experts fear it may lie dormant in thousands
    http://creutzfeldt-jakob-disease.blogspot.com/2011/11/could-we-face-return-of-cjd-experts.html
    Tuesday, November 08, 2011
    Can Mortality Data Provide Reliable Indicators for Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Surveillance? A Study in France from 2000 to 2008 Vol. 37, No. 3-4, 2011
    Original Paper
    Conclusions:These findings raise doubt about the possibility of a reliable CJD surveillance only based on mortality data.
    http://creutzfeldt-jakob-disease.blogspot.com/2011/11/can-mortality-data-provide-reliable.html
    Response to Public Comments
    on the
    Harvard Risk Assessment of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy Update, October 31, 2005
    INTRODUCTION
    The United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) held a public meeting on July 25, 2006 in Washington, D.C. to present findings from the Harvard Risk Assessment of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy Update, October 31, 2005 (report and model located on the FSIS website: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Science/Risk_Assessments/index.asp). Comments on technical aspects of the risk assessment were then submitted to FSIS. Comments were received from Food and Water Watch, Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT), Farm Sanctuary, R-CALF USA, Linda A Detwiler, and Terry S. Singeltary. This document provides itemized replies to the public comments received on the 2005 updated Harvard BSE risk assessment. Please bear the following points in mind:
    http://www.fsis.usda.gov/PDF/BSE_Risk_Assess_Response_Public_Comments.pdf
    Suppressed peer review of Harvard study October 31, 2002.
    October 31, 2002 Review of the Evaluation of the Potential for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy in the United States Conducted by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, Harvard School of Public Health and Center for Computational Epidemiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Tuskegee University Final Report Prepared for U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service Office of Public Health and Science Prepared by RTI Health, Social, and Economics Research Research Triangle Park, NC 27709 RTI Project Number 07182.024
    http://www.fsis.usda.gov/oa/topics/BSE_Peer_Review.pdf
    Sunday, February 14, 2010
    [Docket No. FSIS-2006-0011] FSIS Harvard Risk Assessment of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE)
    http://bseusa.blogspot.com/2010/02/docket-no-fsis-2006-0011-fsis-harvard.html
    Monday, January 2, 2012
    EFSA Minutes of the 6th Meeting of the EFSA Scientific Network on BSE-TSE Brussels, 29-30 November 2011
    http://transmissiblespongiformencephalopathy.blogspot.com/2012/01/efsa-minutes-of-6th-meeting-of-efsa.html
    layperson
    Terry S. Singeltary SR.
    P.O. Box 42
    Bacliff, Texas USA 77518
    flounder9@verizon.net