Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Are you following the story of Dave Louthan? He killed the cow in Washington State that was found to have mad cow disease; now he's insisting that there must be more BSE in America.

This is from a February 3 New York Times story:

Contrary to reports from the federal Department of Agriculture, he asserts that the cow he killed was not too sick to walk. And it was caught not by routine surveillance, he says, but by "a fluke": he killed it outdoors because he feared it would trample other cows lying prostrate in its trailer, and the plant's testing program called for sampling cows killed outside only.

"Mad cows aren't downers," he said. "They're up and they're crazy." The Agriculture Department disputes his account....

In his new role as bloody-handed industry critic, Mr. Louthan argues that too few cattle are tested for mad cow to say with certainty that beef is safe. "One mad cow is a scare, but two is an epidemic," he said. "They absolutely, positively don't want to find another."...

Mr. Louthan, who lives across the street from Vern's, said that the slaughtering was "still going like crazy" but that an inspector in the plant told him no more mad cow testing was being done.

Here's his Web page, on which he also insists that no BSE testing is now being done at the slaughterhouse where he worked; he's also given interviews to Counterpunch and to the blog bad things.

I'm not qualified to judge what he's saying. However, I do think we were far too quick to accept the all-clear from the USDA. In the Times article, read the description of carcass splitting, a job Louthan used to do -- if he's right, the segregation of "good" and "bad" tissues in slaughterhouses is far less precise than they want you to believe.

(Thanks to Skimble for the links.)

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