- WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Meat-loving
Americans will stick with beef despite a second U.S. case of mad cow disease,
analysts and trade groups said on Sunday, even if cattle markets have the
- Consumer groups said the new case showed the need to
close holes in the U.S. defenses against the brain-destroying disease.
The Center of Science in the Public Interest, for example, or CSPI, said
a system was needed to track the origins of suspect cattle within 48 hours.
- The new case, described only as a beef cow more than
8 years old that was a "downer," or too ill to walk, could be
the first U.S.-born case. The other case, reported in December 2003, was
an older dairy cow in Washington state that had been born in Canada.
- Always fatal, mad cow disease is spread through feed
containing material from infected cattle. People can contract a human version
of the disease by eating infected meat. There have been no such cases blamed
on U.S. beef.
- "We saw consumption remained steady" after
the first U.S. case, said Janet Riley of a American Meat Institute. "I
expect to see the same thing (this time)."
- Per capita U.S. beef consumption, estimated at 67.2 pounds
(30.6 kgs) this year, or 1.3 pounds (0.6 kg) a week, is up 1.7 percent
since the first U.S. case.
- "We expect burgers to be a big item for the Fourth
of July," said Terry Stokes, chief executive of the National Cattlemen's
Beef Association, or NCBA. The Independence Day holiday traditionally is
a high point for summer cookouts.
- Cattle prices fell by roughly 2.7 percent in futures
trading since the Agriculture Department said on June 10 that it was re-testing
the beef cow, which had been declared free of mad cow in November. Prices
were expected to fall sharply when trading opened on Monday, said traders.
- "They (cattle feeders) feel like they paid for the
whole thing," said NCBA chief lobbyist Jay Truitt, who spent the weekend
in west Texas.
- One livestock analyst said confirmation of the mad cow
case would add to pressure for lower cattle prices in coming months. Cattle
numbers are rising and there were prospects of higher feed prices.
- Agriculture Department officials acknowledged several
missteps in handling the new case when they announced the final test results
on Friday. They were still trying to identify the cow's home herd.
- USDA spokesman Ed Loyd said he did not anticipate any
announcements on Monday.
- "This cow may show they can't track it (origin)
at all," said Caroline Smith DeWaal, CSPI's food safety expert. CSPI
wants speedy implementation of a mandatory cattle identification system.
USDA now plans mandatory ID in 2009.
- Other consumer groups fault the Food and Drug Administration
for not following through on pledges to expand the scope of its so-called
feed ban imposed in 1997. It bars the use of cattle parts in making cattle
feed. Activists say the ban should include poultry litter, restaurant scraps
and cattle blood as well.
- They also want more spot tests of cattle for mad cow
and say USDA should make permanent its emergency ban against slaughter
of downer cattle for food.
- Besides the feed ban and the downer rule, the other major
U.S. safeguard is a rule requiring meatpackers to remove from carcasses
the brains, spinal cords and other tissue most likely to carry the malformed
proteins that cause mad cow.
- © Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.