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FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Mad Cow and Wasting Disease

By: Shirley Greene

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I don't have many answers. The more I read, research, e-mail, and phone various experts, the more I find myself concentrating on the "loophole" words and phrases, such as: highly unlikely, perhaps, maybe, possible, probable, documented, nearly, estimated and my favorite - "appears but not scientifically proven, so we'll just say undocumented."

Overwhelmingly, scientists believe our human and dogs' food supply chain is safe from BSE and CWD, well, except in very rare instances. And, in those cases, it is the humans, not our dogs, who are not guaranteed 100 percent safety.

Other than those anecdotes reported by Ann Martin, I have found no documented cases of prion disease in dogs.

If I owned a kitty, or had children, I'd make certain there was no pet food containing beef or beef byproducts or beef meal in my home. I'd follow the recommendations of Ben Jones.

If I had venison or elk meat in my freezer, I'd call my local Department of Public Health and ask how to safely and permanently dispose of it. Perhaps you'd come to a different conclusion.

Each of us must make informed decisions for the well being of our families and our pets. For me, these decisions will be based upon:

  • Periodically checking the websites of the FDA, USDA, CDC and CFIA for updated information.

  • Looking for articles by the Pet Food Institute and Association of American Feed Control Officials to review the latest facts, figures and research.

  • Recommendations from my local Department of Public Health and Fish and Game Department for up to the minute information, so that I may personally assess risk factors in my area.

  • Snooping around to find out what consumers unions, my local food co-op and organic food distributors in my area are saying and recommending. Our food co-op often plays host to a wide variety of speakers on the topic of food safety. Everything from irradiated foods to genetically altered grains has been discussed. I'm going to get on their e-mail list.

  • An ongoing dialogue with my veterinarian regarding what foods he recommends as safe and asking for his updated opinions on BSE and CWD.

  • If you ever notice any abnormal neurological symptoms in your cat, immediately consult a veterinarian and if the cat dies, request a necropsy to rule out an outbreak of FSE within the U.S.

    Recently, a friend who feeds raw beef to her dogs organized friends into a food-buying co-op for pet owners. They contacted a local rancher who sells organic-certified beef and contracted to purchase scraps and bones on a regular basis, reducing not only their individual costs but their collective worries.

    The jury is out on BSE and CWD. More is unknown than is certain. Knowledge is power; so update yours often.

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