BEEF Daily

Magazine Needs To Check Facts On BSE


A July 2012 report in Consumer Reports Magazine negatively attacks beef industry.

Just as BPI’s lean finely textured beef was unfairly characterized as “pink slime” and the H1N1 flu strain was dubbed “swine flu” by the media, the beef industry has one longer-lived slur. That is Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) as “mad cow disease.”

The U.S. beef industry has had four cases of BSE -- the latest was discovered last spring in a California dairy cow, and it never entered the food supply. The fact is, however, that humans can’t contract the human form of BSE (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease) from eating meat such as steaks and roasts. BSE in cattle is found only in central nervous tissue and not in the actual meat of the animal. And USDA has a complex system of regulatory controls and interlocking safeguards to prevent the entry of contaminated meat into the food supply.

Still, many consumers are still concerned about how safe their beef is. Undoubtedly, their concerns probably stem from statements like this one that appeared in the July 2102 issue of Consumer Reports (CR) magazine:

“We are turning cows into cannibals, the practice that started the mad cow problem in the first place," says Michael Hansen, senior scientist at CR, on giving cows feed that contains poultry litter, cattle brains and blood. A cow in California tested positive for mad cow disease in April.

This quote appeared in CR’s “Viewpoint” section, a page of the magazine that highlights efforts of the Consumers Union, the policy and action arm of CR to improve the marketplace.

Thanks to reader Errol Wells of Elba, NE, who brought this article to my attention. Wells is a firm believer in responding to negative articles in the media and being a proactive advocate for agriculture.

A Closer Look: Letter From Errol

Upon reading the article, Wells approached CR; however, the magazine has yet to respond to his concerns about the inflammatory statements made about the beef industry.

“Despite my repeated demands for retraction of this blatantly false article and apology to the America’s cattlemen and women, they have not done so. Hopefully, some of you will take Consumers Reports to task for their false article. I hope that I am not the only one willing to do battle with them," Wells says.

Errol, you certainly aren’t alone in your frustration; I, too, was upset to see this published in a consumer magazine, so I’ve drafted up my own letter to send to CR. Here’s what I had to say:

Dear CR Editor:

I was disappointed to see your statements regarding beef safety and BSE in the July 2012 issue of your magazine. As a cattle rancher and beef lover, I can assure you that our nation’s beef supply is safe from pasture to plate.

Calling cattle “cannibals” is completely false. Yes, BSE can be spread through certain cattle feed ingredients, but those have been banned since 1997. USDA check points, regulatory controls and interlocking safeguards ensure that even if a case of BSE is detected, there is zero chance of the meat from that animal ever entering the food supply.

From, “In 2007, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) classified the U.S. as a controlled risk country in regard to BSE, meaning U.S. regulatory controls are effective and fresh beef and products from cattle of all ages is safe.

“For more than 20 years the USDA has been developing and implementing a robust system of safeguards to ensure a BSE-free food supply. Tissues that could potentially carry BSE in an animal – including the brain and spinal cord – must be removed from cattle prior to processing, and therefore are not allowed into the food supply. This step along with other safeguards ensures BSE has no affect on public health.

“The U.S. began an active BSE surveillance program in 1990 and, since its inception, more than 1 million cattle at greatest risk for BSE have been tested. USDA’s ongoing BSE surveillance program tests approximately 40,000 high-risk cattle annually. This program is rigorous and exceeds international guidelines by 10 times.”

I think your readers deserve to hear the facts about BSE and beef safety, so that they can enjoy a steak without guilt or fear.

Respectfully submitted,

Amanda Radke
Beef enthusiast, cattle rancher
Mitchell, SD

If you are as frustrated about this report as I and Wells are, write your own letter and fill out the provided form here to share your concerns with the magazine. Under "CR Producets/Services," selecte "Consumer Reports magazine" and click on "Letter to the Editor." Let CR know that we won’t tolerate false reporting.

Discuss this Blog Entry 7

Mike (not verified)
on Oct 10, 2012

I think that you mean "CR" magazine, or Consumer Reports. "CP" is an online magazine about color pencil art. But your point is a good one.

on Oct 10, 2012

Thanks for the pointing that out, Mike. We made the correction! Glad you enjoyed the blog today.
--Jamie Purfeerst, BEEF Senior Associate Editor

Tana Beckstead (not verified)
on Oct 10, 2012

Great article and I am so glad that someone is taking a stand against false statements against the cattle industry! Thanks Amanda! I love reading your articles!

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 10, 2012

I gave up on Consumer Reports being objective and fair about anything along time ago. Most of their data appears shewed and very predictable.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 10, 2012

re-Magazine Needs To Check Facts On BSE

r e a l l y ???

MAD COW USDA ATYPICAL L-TYPE BASE BSE, the rest of the story...

***Oral Transmission of L-type Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy in Primate Model

***Infectivity in skeletal muscle of BASE-infected cattle

***feedstuffs- It also suggests a similar cause or source for atypical BSE in these countries.

***Also, a link is suspected between atypical BSE and some apparently sporadic cases of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans.

The present study demonstrated successful intraspecies transmission of H-type BSE to cattle and the distribution and immunolabeling patterns of PrPSc in the brain of the H-type BSE-challenged cattle. TSE agent virulence can be minimally defined by oral transmission of different TSE agents (C-type, L-type, and H-type BSE agents) [59]. Oral transmission studies with H-type BSEinfected cattle have been initiated and are underway to provide information regarding the extent of similarity in the immunohistochemical and molecular features before and after transmission.

In addition, the present data will support risk assessments in some peripheral tissues derived from cattle affected with H-type BSE.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Experimental H-type bovine spongiform encephalopathy characterized by plaques and glial- and stellate-type prion protein deposits

***support risk assessments in some peripheral tissues derived from cattle affected with H-type BSE

now, for the rest of the story...

Saturday, October 6, 2012



RR (not verified)
on Oct 10, 2012

CR, like all other sources of information, have their biases. Now I have to decide if I should drop subscriptions (gift, health, money) to send them a message about really stepping in it this time.

Josef Hlasny (not verified)
on Oct 10, 2012

Mad cow disease (BSE) still raises among people fears that humans can infect from cows by
(a) tainted meat, by (b) infectious medical equipment (surgical instruments…), by (c) infectious blood… These three important hypotheses is necessary to complete, and to add the base important hypothesis, known from 1988 ( between the general public still recognized as valid! ), that mad cow disease in Britain was created after infection, when cows were fed meat and bone meal (MBM).
Recently (August 2012) I have responded to all of these hypotheses in the debate (total of 16 comments!) in the American newspaper "USA Today" and pointed out that the mad cow disease has not origins in feeding MBM British cows and is not an infectious disease transmissible to humans. So mad cow disease (BSE) can be a naturally occurring disease, not an infectious disease, so beef is safe in the all world. WHY? Because, about the BSE/ vCJD diseases; this was never justified scientifically! It was pure, math-model-driven science fiction. But it was pushed very vigorously by the British science establishment, which has never confessed to its errors... See more about the; BSE/ vCJD mathematical- models, see my large three comments (February 2010) in ( ).
Relevant findings I have published 11 years ago in Czech (March 2001) and in English (May 2002; Netherlands, International Journal "Feed Mix";[1].pdf ). Later, in August 2006, I published own website, see . Since then I pointed my website in the order of hundreds of magazines around the world, especially in the U.S.. See some of them, for example on Google;
In 2008, I repeatedly visited the USA, it was about the occasion of my presentation in Vancouver, Canada (July 2008; 29th World Veterinary Congress; Neurodegenerative Diseases and Schizophrenia as a Hyper or Hypofunction of the NMDA Receptors ( ).
According to my theory, the origins of the neurodegenerative diseases may lie in chronic magnesium deficiency coupled with a high protein intake. So defective prions are markers of the diseases rather than the cause and BSE can be a naturally occurring disease, not an infectious disease.
Why should prions be some markers? This option shows the results of recent research of Alzheimer's disease (July 2012). About this disease is known that the aggregation and deposition of amyloid-β (Aβ) peptides are believed to be central events in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Many similar scientific methods led the 1997 Nobel laureate Stanley Prusiner (San Francisco), to prove that a protein had the machinery to self-propagate into a misfolded infectious state. At the time, 20 years ago, he put forth the idea that prions could be involved with other neurodegenerative diseases. However, recently (July 2012) his team reported compelling evidence that Aβ aggregates are prions and that the formation of Aβ prions does not require additional proteins or co-factors.
Dairy cows with high milk production need in the feed ration a high concentration of protein. From experiences in the Czech Republic is known that almost all the 30 cases of mad cow disease (BSE) had been detected in high commercial dairy farms. For this, two cases of BSE have been repeatedly found in two herds of dairy cows. Even the last case was detected in the farm where high yielding dairy cows were fed organically (grass pasture) but had the possibility of unlimited (ad libitum) intake of protein concentrate. Why the BSE disease occurred only in a highly commercial farms and not in the thousands of other breeds with a lower milk yield, when meat and bone meal was in the Czech Republic never fed in dairy cows (in cattle)?
The neurodegenerative diseases, occurred to a greater extent, only in ruminants (BSE), because only in them, magnesium is not absorbed in the intestine, but in the rumen. The excess of protein-nitrogen in the rumen decreases absorption of magnesium. Most suffer with magnesium deficiency, high yielding dairy cows, in which high milk production leads to the dysbalancy between calcium and magnesium. Prolonged magnesium deficiency leads to an excess of calcium in animal tissues, and NMDA receptor hyperfunction.

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BEEF Daily Blog is produced by rancher Amanda Radke, one of the U.S. beef industry’s top social media “agvocates.”


Amanda Radke

Amanda Radke is a fifth generation rancher from Mitchell, S.D., who has dedicated her career to serving as a voice for the nation’s beef producers. A 2009 graduate of South Dakota State...

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