Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy and BSE-like diseases have been recognized for years in the United States. In 1985, experimentally infected steers did not develop symptoms of "madness" but instead became ataxic and went 'down."
In that same year, the first reported cases of the bizarre bovine disease
were reported in England and many thousands of cattle were destroyed. The
disease spread throughout Europe. Before the disease was discovered British
cattle were imported into the U.S. and not all those cattle could be
accounted for when the investigations began. In 1996 there was a connection
made between consumption of infected meat and a human degenerative
neurological disease. Recent research suggests that it is not the meat
itself, but rather "whole-body contamination" as a result of the
slaughtering methods. Many cats (including "big" cats) died and canine
deaths have been recorded also.
In 1965, mink farms suffered a BSE-like disease and "chronic wasting
disease" (CWD) has long been recognized in deer and elk. The studies show
CWD to be a similar disease to BSE.
Cattle, sheep and hogs are fed "ruminant proteins" meaning these vegetarians
are fed other animals and therefore all of them are at risk for the disease.
In turn, so are you and most certainly your pets, with cats being
particularly sensitive. For now, beef appears to offer the greatest risk.
Poultry does not seem to suffer from this health issue.
Food animals that arrive at the slaughter house unable to rise on their own
are known as "downers" and they DO make it into the human food chain,
believe it or not. Any that do not go for human consumption are directed at
pet foods. It is estimated that in the U.S. there are 500,000 "downers" each
year with only 7500 tested for anything! The question now being raised is,
"What if the strain of BSE in American cattle produces more of a 'downer's'
disease than mad cow syndrome?"
While there are a few "good" pet foods that do not use animals that fall
into the 4 Ds category (Dead, Dying, Diseased and Down) it is unlikely that
we have any here [in Mexico]. One clue is if you see the words "animal
digest" in the list of ingredients. That means any animal the company gets
-- and any way it can get it, including road kill! Downers are sure to be in
If you are still not convinced that a problem exists, note that Dr. Jean
Hofve, DVM, reported at www.littlebigcat.com, "In 2001 the USDA announced
that inspections of feed mills and rendering plants found almost 800 lacking
required warning labels and/or systems in place to prevent mixing of banned
products into ruminant feeds." Two weeks later a large herd of Texas cattle
were quarantined because they were suspect. That is very close to home.
Furthermore, it seems that no one is quite sure just how many rendering
plants even exist in the U.S.
This problem simply adds to the reasons to feed your pets the very, very
best food you can and the one way to do that is know precisely what goes in
the food bowl. If you will not make the effort to feed "real" food to your
pet, at the very least, learn to read the labels on those packages.
Incidentally, the most expensive may well not be the best but you can be
absolutely certain that the cheapest foods are filled with many suspect
ingredients from cancer-causing preservatives to "animal digest". The latest
scare may seem far away but maybe not.
P.S. From a report December 24, 2003, UPI by Steve Mitchell, a U.S. recall
of pet foods may well happen because of the positive tests on a cow from the
state of Washington. Dr. Lester Crawford, FDA's deputy commissioner to UPI
said there is no way of knowing how much pet food would have to be recalled.
But, he said the FDA does not consider the infectious agent, called a prion,
can be diluted to safe levels. So even if a small batch of infected pet food
was mixed with a ton of other food the whole ton would have to be destroyed.
"Until he extends his circle of compassion to include all living things man
will not himself find peace." Albert Schweitzer.