Essay Preview: Mad Cow
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Mad Cow Testing
In an age where nation security has risen to a higher level than ever seen before in the United States, Americans would like to think that from this rise in security that they are in fact a lot safer from occurring threats. Increased airport security, low tolerance for any kind of weapon, real or fake, in schools, and fighting wars against terrorism are just some of the few forms of the nations actions to help secure its homeland. Hopefully Americans can now go to a peaceful restaurant with their families and eat without the worry of any serious danger happeningor could they? What if the biggest risk of going out to eat was not being robbed or shot but rather becoming fatally ill by eating contaminated meat that the restaurant had no way of even determining? This can be a realistic future in the United States because of the major lack of testing of cattle for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (also known as mad cow disease or BSE) in slaughterhouses.
Currently slaughterhouses do not have to volunteer in any type of testing of mad cow disease if they do not wish to do so. (Doughten) Those that do volunteer cows for testing are not even testing a majority of the meat that gets shipped to be eaten. “Ferguson said the testing program was never intended to keep mad-cow out of the human food chain, but was a statistical sampling that would detect the disease if it was present in one animal out of a million.” (Doughten) Beef that is contaminated with mad cow disease can easily slip through this minor checking routine and make it into the nation food supply which could end up infecting many Americans fatally just by eating a hamburger at their favorite restaurant. Luckily, there are people trying to make the meat supply safer by introducing bills to the government to create laws to make stricter testing laws. One such bill, the Mad Cow Testing Act of 2004 suggests just that, to test every cattle carcass that is going to be used into making meat, for mad cow disease. However, this bill was never passed and wiped clean from Congresss books when they ended their session and never discussed it. Does this mean the meat supply will never be thoroughly checked to see if mad cow is present on most of the meat? No, with a bill with the right text, laws could be made to help make America a safer place for eating meat.
The Mad Cow Testing Act of 2004 failed to amend the Federal Meat Inspection Act while being proposed in Congress. But why was this bill not passed? Several parts could seize this responsibility in which could have been changed or omitted with possibly a better chance of being passed. “Notwithstanding the Act of June 5, 1948 (Chapter 423; 21 U.S.C 695), all costs related to the testing shall be borne by slaughtering, meat-canning, salting, packing, rendering, and other establishments subject to the testing requirement” (Mad Cow). This section of the bill would have put way too much cost on the meat companies and less on the government itself that is accountable for the nations security. If the processors do not pay for the testing, who should? An alternative answer would be the general tax payers which would still allow the meat processing companies to keep their profits at a desired level. Also, if the tax payers bear the costs, the packing plants would receive compensation for every cow tested which could lead to possibly lower prices in beef (Hagen). Since most of the tax payers are generally meat eaters, this would be a direct tax to their consumption and a tax to insure they can consume meat with virtually no worry of obtaining mad cow disease. However, this could be refuted since the cost for testing every cow carcass in the national meat supply would have money totals of a huge magnitude. At an average cost of fifty dollars per test, the total cost of this would be in the low billions since the United States slaughters around 36 million cattle per year, which is a significant amount of money to make the tax payers account for. On the contrary, if the processors did have to pay for the testing, price for meat would eventually rise as well to accommodate for the cost that mad cow testing is dealing on their profits (Hagen). All in all, the amount of money being paid by the consumer, whether its through higher taxes or higher meat prices, may end up being the same.
Just one possible discrepancy, is that enough to say the bill was not a significant step in the right direction? Though