USDA faulted for lax implementation of mad cow disease safety regulations

the IG report. Unimpressed with this response, the inspector general urged the USDA to clarify its policy and the FSIS to develop controls to ensure the policy is consistently applied.

The 117-page report included eleven other problems regarding the USDA’s BSE (mad cow disease) safeguard programs, and the inspector general also said the auditors were unable to determine whether slaughterhouses and meat packers complied with rules to remove specified risk materials, or SRMs, from cattle aged thirty months and older due to a lack of adequate records.

The point is this: Bending or ignoring safety mad cow disease rules, and cooking the books, may look like a good idea, but it is not. One example: In December 2005 Japan lifted the ban on importing U.S. beef, a ban imposed after the first mad cow disease was discovered in the United States. Japan lifted the ban after being reassured by USDA that safety measures at U.S. slaughter houses were in place. A month later, on 20 January 2006, Japan reimposed the ban after a spinal column, banned under a bilateral agreement as a SRM, was found in a veal shipment at Narita airport. Japan has said it will not resume imports until the United States presented a convincing report about what happened — and about future safety measures which will ensure it will not happen again. The report may not be enough: Given growing doubts in Japan about U.S. inspection measures, the Japanese government is planning to send its inspectors to check U.S. beef processing facilities. It is a delicious irony: The health and safety of American consumers will be enhanced by Japanese meat inspectors.

-read more in this Japan Economic Newswire report

MORE: Remember John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row? Not much of a plot, but a rich, if sentimental, rendering of the people of a place, the cannery district of Monterey, California. In the novel it is populated by a mix of those down on their luck and those who choose for other reasons not to live “up the hill” in the more respectable area of town. If you have visited Monterey recently you would know that Cannery Row is now a gentrified, urban-renewed district, with Volvos parked in front of cheese stores. Somehow it is not surprising that residents of the district have started the Slow Food movement — a strike against the spread of industrialized, processed, homogenous, fast food. Report