Mad cow disease case confirmed in B.C.

CBC News
Mad cow disease has been found in a 5½-year-old dairy cow in British Columbia, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed Wednesday.

I wonder how many mad cows America is hiding

CBC Transcript

Shoot, Shovel and Shut Up

REG SHERREN: Hi I'm Reg Sherren. Welcome to another season of Country Canada. Our 50th.

I've just done something that not a single Canadian cow has been able to do for over a year. I've just managed to cross the US boarder.

One sick animal and the American government shut the entire borer down a decision made by this woman. (Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman.)

The US has had a case of mad cow too - but the cow was born in Canada giving the American government yet another opportunity to say BSE is our problem, and their surveillance system is second to none. But is it? You are about to find out.

REG SHERREN: Canadian ranchers have been taking it in the neck and taking it in the pocketbook ever since that first cow was discovered back in Alberta. But the Americans have problems of their own. Big problems starting right here in Washington State. You might say this is their ground zero when it comes to BSE or mad cow disease.

Moses Lake. Christmas turned out to be a bit of a downer last year. This is where American officials found what they said was their first case of Mad cow disease.

AGRICULTURE SECRETARY ANN VENEMAN: This is clear indication that our surveillance and detection program is working. I plan to serve beef for my Christmas dinner

REG SHERREN: But it didn't take long for Secretary Veneman's claims to be countered by whispers even accusations that the discovery was more dumb luck than design. And there's one guy who knows exactly what happened … The man who killed the cow.

Dave Louthan spent four years on the kill floor at Vern's meats. Not all cows arrive healthy. Here the sick ones, known as downers, are supposed to be tested for mad cow disease. According to the U.S. department of Agriculture, they are the only cows that need to be tested for B.S.E.

And the USDA maintains the cow that tested positive in Moses Lake wasn't well… it was a downer … and that's why their surveillance system caught it.

I don't think so says Dave.

REG SHERREN: Let's be clear about this - was this cow a downer?

DAVE LOUTHAN: Oh no, that was a good walking cow. That cow could outrun anybody here.

REG SHERREN: When the truckload of cattle backed up to Vern's meats that day, the cow in question got mixed in with some downers. But Dave insists the cow was healthy, showing no signs of a central nervous system disorder… an indicator of BSE.…but it got tested anyway.

DAVE LOUTHAN: It was just a, a fluke, a technical mistake. Because I killed her on the trailer, that made her a backdoor cow. And she went in right along with the downers, and because she went in with the downers, she got tested. If I had put her in the pens, that cow would never have been tested and nobody would've ever known that that was a BSE cow.

REG SHERREN: Then Dave saw Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman step before the cameras and declare to the world that the cow he killed wasn't well..a downer.

AGRICULTURE SECRETARY ANN VENEMAN: … like this one, a downer animal

DAVE LOUTHAN: So I went up and told - I went back out and told the USDA and the FDA guys that were following me around, I said, hold it. I don't work for the government. I ain't going to be part of no government cover up- that's when I went up to the front and I saw the news crew out there. And my head was just pounding. I thought, something just has to be done here.

REG SHERREN: The last straw, says Dave, came when he realized the meat from the cow was probably already on store shelves, or had been eaten, and the government didn't seem to be warning anybody.

DAVE LOUTHAN: I took my knives, I hung 'em up, I walked down the hallway, passed my bosses, walked out the front door, heard them say, oh ****, he's going outside. And I walked straight up to the news crew. I said, I'm Dave, I killed that cow, what do you want to know?

REPORTER: The USDA says we don't have to worry about the meat getting into the food supply.

DAVE LOUTHAN: "It's meat. If it's not in the food supply, where else would it be. It's meat."

REG SHERREN: Dave went public, and Dave lost his job. But it didn't shut him up. He got himself a computer and e-mailed every government inspector he could find, telling them how the mad cow surveillance system really works.

DAVE LOUTHAN: They wanted, they wanted me quiet and this thing forgotten as quick as possible and business as usual. But I kept shooting my mouth off. And so, they came back again - well, after that, after he left, I started seeing these guys following me around, I was here in town. They'd park across the street. I would go uptown, they would follow me uptown. I'd come home, and they'd park across the street, and my sweetheart was - my sweetheart said, finally at this point she said, no more. Take your federal agents and your mad cows and your reporters, and get the hell out,

REG SHERREN: Dave didn't stop there. He testified before state hearings…twice. The inspector general of the department of agriculture investigated. It found five people that backed up Dave's contention that the animal wasn't a downer, it was healthy looking.

But the department of agriculture still maintains, publicly at least, that the cow was unhealthy, a downer, and their system worked just fine.




DAVE LOUTHAN: Nothing changed. All that work and nothing changed. I wanted - the whole thing was, I wanted to sit down to a cheeseburger and eat it, and just worry about the cholesterol


DAVE LOUTHAN: Simple. It's so easy. Test every cow.


Publicly the USDA continues to claim the Moses Lake cow was a downer.

Internal USDA e-mails tell a different story.

"The term downer was used loosely in this case," writes one official.

"If (the cow) had arrived by herself," writes another. "It's very likely she would not have been tested."

REG SHERREN: Test very cow. The solution seems pretty simple, but nothing ever is. I'm back on the road, on my way to talk to a company that thinks that, simple or not, blanket testing is the only solution.

When we come back. A small company with a big idea … but you'll never guess what's holding it back.

TEASE CLIP: "To say no to help the big packers is crazy."


REG SHERREN: So, I've come even deeper into the American Heartland to meet with a bunch of people who thought their company had the perfect solution to this mad cow mess. Or at least they thought they did. Just as they started to get a lot of attention they hit a road block they never expected."

Down here in Kansas, folks take their beer, their religion and their beef pretty seriously, and not necessarily in that order. Here in the southeast corner of Kansas, you'll also find one of the biggest blue grass festivals in the world.

And a small beef processor that would like to get a lot bigger. Chief operating officer for Creekstone Farms - Bill Fielding is always ready to sell.

CREEKSTONE CEO BILL FIELDING: These are absolutely the best hamburgers you would ever have in your life.

REG SHERREN: Oh come on that's a little bit of a sell job.

BILL FIELDING: Better than Canadian anything else

REG SHERREN: I didn't expect to see any competitor's product going on the grill

REG SHERREN: Creekstone is state of the art, one of the most modern meat processing facilities in the world..and it relies heavily on foreign markets. Or, at least, it used to. One mad cow in Moses Lake changed all that, closing the door to most export sales, and costing Creekstone it's number one customer.

REG SHERREN: How critical is the Japanese market to your company?

BILL FIELDING: It's extremely critical it is we were shipping 30 to 40 percent of our product to Asia most of that going to Japan

REG SHERREN: And overnight that was over.

BILL FIELDING: And overnight it's cut off completely, it cut our production back to three days a week.

REG SHERREN: What followed were job losses in a place that could hardly afford to lose any more jobs - jobs that keep a roof over the heads of Robert and Julie Munoz and their kids. Many of their colleagues weren't as lucky.

ROBERT MUNOZ: I've talked to you know some of my friends that actually had to give up homes had to give up certain things that they'd worked to have and because they didn't have the income anymore

REG SHERREN: The only way out of the mess, according to Bill Fielding…was to test every animal. Japan , their prime customer - demanded it and the customer is always right.

BILL FIELDING: It was a no brainer the cost of the test was 20 dollars and we did our homework on that.

REG SHERREN: The company spent hundreds of thousands of dollars building a BSE lab, right in the plant.

REG SHERREN: So the whole idea here is that as these heads come by the sample would come out come in here?

BILL FIELDING: Yes the head would go on the table there we take the brain stem sample would be put in a vial that would pass through the window and would come in the lab here and then we'd be able to go through the whole process and in a matter of about 4 to five hours we'd have a result.

REG SHERREN: But Creekstone still needed permission from Veneman's department. It didn't get it.

AGRICULTURE SECRETARY ANN VENEMAN CLIP: (saying to test every cow is not scientifically warranted.)

REG SHERREN: Creekstone only processes cattle under two and a half years old. Too young test, said the agriculture department. To young to detect bse. It was a huge blow to the company.

REG SHERREN: (This lab has) never been used?

BILL FIELDING: No unfortunately it's completely empty we're not allowed to do one test. Their argument has no merit whatsoever and when you challenge them with just very common sense kind of questions there's not a good answer.

REG SHERREN: Bill is convinced the real reason for turning Creekstone down, is money. If he went ahead with 100 percent testing, the big packers would face enormous pressure to do the same… and the price tag for that could hit a billion dollars. Even so Bill's not about to shut -up yet either.

BILL FIELDING: What more would you ever want than a customer who will pay the price for what they are asking for that allows you to run your business, grow your business and for our government to say no you can't say that because we're going to help the big packers is crazy.




REG SHERREN: In this country it's the United States department of Agriculture that keeps an eye on the beef, but just how good is their surveillance program? To find out I've come here to Colorado to talk to a man who worked inside the system.

More cows than people live Fort Morgan Colorado. Or more precisely, they die in Fort Morgan . This gigantic slaughter plant, kills thousands every day. This is also where thousands of veterinarians and inspectors across the country are supposed to carry out mad cow surveillance orders every day.

If you ask Secretary of Agriculture Ann Venemen … it's a system that's been honed to perfection.

AGRICULTURE SECRETARY ANN VENEMAN CLIP: We have been taking steps since 1990 to protect our beef supply from this disease. In the last year we have tested 20,526 head of cattle for BSE which is triple the previous year of 2002.

REG SHERREN: I'm looking for a second opinion … but people on the inside rarely speak out. The government likes to keep a tight lid on controversy. Most of the inspectors and veterinarians we contacted were afraid to talk to us.

SOUND UP: Hi, I'm Reg Sherren.

REG SHERREN: Michael Schwochert is a career veterinarian … who worked for the U.S.D.A. for seven years. Medical issues forced Michael's retirement, not that he ever felt comfortable working for the agriculture department.

MICHAEL SCHWOCHERT: I never felt like I was on solid ground, when I was in private industry. I was given the tools that I needed to do my job I didn't feel like I was on loose footing, the whole time I worked for the USDA I felt like I was on gravel.

REG SHERREN: Even so, he was happy when an order was issued to test every cow showing possible BSE symptoms. A year later he discovered an animal doing exactly that.

MICHAEL SCHWOCHERT: so I notified them that we had this animal and that they needed to come and pick up the sample. Well the veterinarian that was in this area was substituting in another area and they didn't have anybody available and they made the determination that this was not a high-risk animal and no sample was taken

REG SHERREN: You found one and in a low risk plant so what does that say to you?

MICHAEL SCHWOCHERT: Well where there's one skunk there's usually a den.

REG SHERREN: According to the USDA's own internal records Michaels wasn't the only case.

The department failed to test another BSE suspect case in California in July of 2002. And another in Georgia in the same month. And then in Wisconsin and then in Washington State … and then ….

… you get picture.

GRAPHICS: (US map showing where cases weren't tested.)

REG SHERREN: In total during 2002 and 2003 the USDA failed to test nearly 500 BSE suspect cows. Michael says it often left him wondering whether the government really wants to find mad cow disease.

REG SHERREN: Those inspectors do a hard job, they're looking for the needle in the haystack all day long and that's a hard hard job and then if you find the needle and nobody looks at the needle then you really begin to question what you're doing there.

REG SHERREN: And, he says, industry quickly gets the message.

REG SHERREN: So if its got a central nervous system problem, get rid of it.

MICHAEL SCHWOCHERT: Bury it, burn it

REG SHERREN: Shoot shovel and shut up.



In August 2004 the USDA's own Inspector General issued a 78-page scathing review of the departments mad cow surveillance system.

The USDA failed to test hundreds of high-risk cows because of "confusion" and "lack of coordination".

"The problems … impact … the credibility of any assertion regarding the prevalence of BSE in the United States."

REG SHERREN: So far you've met the man who killed the BSE cow - and heard his claims of a USDA cover-up. You've met the head of a company that wants to test for BSE - but can't because the USDA won't let them. And you've met a man who used to work for the USDA and wishes he never did. But what about the person who makes these decisions in the first place?

REG SHERREN: (On the phone) My name is Reg Sherren and I'm calling from the Canadian Broadcasting corporation

REG SHERREN: When we come back, in search of the woman in charge of it all.

TEASE CLIP: That's the last Canadian question.


REG SHERREN: It's election time and California has more voters than any other state. Hand-shaking is in high gear. So are negotiations for an interview with Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman. Two days ago, after weeks of requests I was told she's just too busy. But I also know she's scheduled to do a little barbequing with a California senator. The senator was happy to invite us. But Ann Venemen's people didn't seem that happy about it.

REG SHERREN: How are you?

AGRICULTURE SECRETARY ANN VENEMAN: Hello. What are you doing way down here in Lamore?

REG SHERREN: I've come to ask you a few questions.


POLITICAL AID: well she's here to talk about Mr. Ashburn today this is not an official event

REG SHERREN: No well we're here at the invitation of the senator and we're very interested in hearing what she has to say and speaking with her for a few minutes

POLITICAL AID: That's fine but I just want you to understand that this is not an official event

REG SHERREN: No and fair enough thank you

POLITICAL AID: Excuse me could you all give us just a sec?

AGRICULTURE SECRETARY ANN VENEMAN: Well I am delighted to be here with Roy Ashburn

REG SHERREN: Secretary Venemen how do you justify keeping the border closed to Canadian cattle?

AGRICULTURE SECRETARY ANN VENEMAN: Well we are going through a regulatory process, as you know we proposed legislation or regulations I should say to open up the Canadian and we expect that we will complete that process in the near future

REG SHERREN: In the meantime what do you say to Canadian ranchers that are going broke and there are thousands of them right now the losses are two billion dollars and climbing?

AGRICULTURE SECRETARY ANN VENEMAN: Well just what I said we are working very hard on the process and I understand what's going on in Canada.

REG SHERREN: are you satisfied that your own surveillance program is functioning the way it should?

AGRICULTURE SECRETARY ANN VENEMAN: I am, I think our surveillance program has gone very well we've tested over 70,000 animals. Now just to put that in some perspective we tested about 20,000 a year before BSE got out and so far since June 1st we've tested over 70,000. We haven't found another case that doesn't mean we wont find another case.

REG SHERREN: So what do you say to the inspector general's report that suggests that there are many holes in the system that finding this cow was luck.

AGRICULTURE SECRETARY ANN VENEMAN: That inspector generals report was based upon the surveillance program before we implemented the June 1st program the inspector general has signed off on the way we are now running the program. The report looks backwards what was wrong with it before.

CALIFORNIA SENATOR: That's the last Canadian question we're from the heartland of California.


REG SHERREN: And that was that. No handshake, very few answers.

Great lets just feed our selfs rendered meat ,thanks Canada --really concered about your people
Libra Girl
Good grief! I shall from this moment forward only eat Chicken, at least until they implement an every cow tested programme.

*Thinks*This is westmanguy... if anyone comes in and tells me I've been suckered again, I'll scream and scream and scream*
Japan checks every cow in and never feeds its people renerings (**** ,head, spinal ,colum )

they arent doing there job 1 in 8000 get checked in Canada
Libra Girl
Quote: Originally Posted by temperanceView Post

Japan checks every cow in and never feeds its people renerings (**** ,head, spinal ,colum )

they arent doing there job 1 in 8000 get checked in Canada

That is terrible if true… there is, as yet, no cure for Mad Cow Disease in humans. It affects the brain, and is an horrible way to die.

Disease has no cure

From the link below:

The public has good reason to be concerned about the transmission of BSE to humans. Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, like the other types of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (external - login to view), is a brain disorder which becomes deadly over time. There is no cure.
Normally, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease occurs in a person in one of three ways:
· About 10 to 15 percent of cases are inherited, resulting from a gene mutation.
· Most cases seem to appear sporadically, in someone who has no family history of the disease.
· A small percentage of cases occur through infection, by contact with infected brain tissue. There are documented cases that occurred as an unintended consequence of a medical procedure.
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is not contagious in normal ways, like sneezing or coughing--there are no known cases of spouses or family members of an infected person contracting the disease.
Contaminated beef products implicated
Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease seems to have been caused by people eating contaminated beef products in Europe. The same disease, when it occurs in sheep, is called "scrapie." It is believed that scrapie-infected sheep products were used in cattle feed, and thus the cattle became infected.
Scientists have found that what causes BSE, scrapie, and the Creutzfeldt-Jakob diseases is not a virus or bacteria as in other diseases, but a protein agent called a prion. The prion transforms normal proteins into infectious, deadly ones. (external - login to view)
#7 (external - login to view)
Libra Girl
Thanks for the link temperance...
Libra Girl
Another thing. I understood that westmanguy had left CC... What's he doin' posting in here?

Some things are just too confusing...

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