It doesn't appear that R-Calf has had much success in getting their fearmongering message to the US consumer. Maybe some of us have overestimated the impact they have had and they are in fact being dismissed as the radical fringe group they are. Hopefully the appeal hearings will now see BSE for what it is, a manageable, non-contagious beef disease that is in both countries at extremely low levels with little if any risk to human health.
Brisket, hamburgers still on the July 4 menu for many
By JAMIE STENGLE
Associated Press Writer
LEWISVILLE, Texas — Irene Carey wasn't worried about the latest mad cow scare as she loaded up on beef for the Fourth of July weekend.
"I got a brisket and ribs and hamburger meat, so I don't think it concerned us a lot," said Carey, of Lewisville, one of several customers stocking up this week at the Old Town Market in this Dallas suburb. "You trust that things are in place to be protective, just like you do with medicine."
Customers said they had heard the news that the nation's first home-grown case of mad cow disease was traced to a 12-year-old Texas-born cow, but they also heard officials say the food supply is safe.
"It seems like they tell us that it's OK, you have to believe somebody," said Ed Burgan, 70, of Lewisville, as he carried a beef brisket.
Peggy Bridges, 64, of Lewisville, said she knew the cow was an older cow that wouldn't have made it into the food chain.
Beef sold in stores comes from cows that are 24 months old or younger when slaughtered, said Beverly Boyd, spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Agriculture. But older animals can be slaughtered. As long as a cow is ambulatory, not a "downer" unable to walk when it goes to slaughter, it will be accepted.
The diseased cow, which was destroyed in November, was a downer. The government banned downer cows from the food supply just days after the first case of mad cow disease turned up in the United States in 2003 in a dairy cow imported from Canada.
Marsha Grant, manager of the Old Town Market, a small store selling assorted fresh cuts of meat, said mad cow's not a concern.
"Business is booming," Grant said. "It hasn't affected our business at all. We have faith in the USDA — and I think everybody does — that they're going to keep it out of the food supply."
Officials have said the most recent infection most likely started with contaminated feed eaten before August 1997, when the United States and Canada began banning cow parts in cattle feed.
Mad cow disease, medically known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, is a brain-wasting cattle illness believed to be spread when a cow eats meal that contains spinal or brain tissue of an animal infected with BSE. Humans can get a related illness, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, if they eat infected tissue.
Old Town Market owner Dickie Grant said he has educated customers enough that they have confidence in the beef.
"I'll have one of the biggest weekends of the year this weekend," Grant said.
The Fourth of July holiday is arguably the country's busiest grilling holiday.
"The only decision I'll have to make is if I have a hamburger or a ribeye," said Richard Wortham, executive vice president of the Texas Beef Council. "I'm 100 percent confident in the U.S. beef supply."
Roland Dickey Jr., vice president of Dickey's Barbecue, which has 65 restaurants in six states, said the company didn't see any decrease in business after the first mad cow case and doesn't expect one now.
"It hasn't been a blip on our radar screen," Dickey said.
Associated Press Writer Betsy Blaney in Lubbock contributed to this report.