Latest case of mad cow hits closer to home

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 17, 2006

Unless you’re a vegetarian, Monday’s mad cow scare might make you think twice about buying beef anytime soon.

The case of encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, was the most recent in a sparse rash of mad cow disease in the United States. However, this time it hit much closer to home – right here in Alabama.

Associated Press reports did not indicate where in Alabama the cow was discovered but did say that meat from the beef cow did not enter the food supply for humans or animals.

The challenge for the Bush Administration will be to keep foreign consumers convinced that American beef is safe to consume.

Japan was the top consumer of American beef until the first U.S. case of mad cow disease cropped up in 2003, when a Canadian-born cow in Washington state was discovered with the disease. A second case was confirmed last June in a cow that was born and raised in Texas.

But will yesterday’s mad cow scare stop Alabamians from buying beef? It will certainly raise a lot more eyebrows in the state than the two previous cases, but it is unlikely that one isolated case will create a lot of new vegetarians.

Alabamians like their beef. It’s going to take a lot to keep us away from that grill this spring and summer. Of course, a few cautious consumers might opt for chicken leg quarters over beef when deciding what to throw on the grill this year. But unless more cases crop up, it is highly unlikely we will feel threatened by mad cow.

Fortunately, it’s not time to panic – yet. U.S. Department of Agriculture officials say the case will not affect ongoing negotiations between the U.S. and foreign consumers of American beef. They remain confident that our beef is safe to consume.

– The Clanton Advertiser