Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Beef it's What's On My Table

Last week the story about a cow with BSE in California jumped into the headlines. We all know that the price of cattle went limit down and the stocks of packers went into the tank. This of course followed the controversy about “pink slime”. It seems lately that beef has been in the headlines and none of them good.
You know what my response was? I thawed steaks out and grilled them for my family. The next day we had hamburgers. Was I worried that I was feeding my family something that was not safe. Absolutely not, I know that the meat, and for that matter, all the food I feed my family is completely safe. We are so blessed to live in a nation with the safest food supply in the world, regardless of what the mainstream media would have you believe.
The local news station proclaimed that a case of “mad cow disease” was found in a dairy cow in California and that BSE “may” be linked to a similar disease in humans. They did at least go on to say that the cow never made it close to the food supply and that milk posed no threat. However, they did not go on to tell more of the facts that would have relieved more fears.
We are blessed in this country to have the best meat inspection system in the world. This cow was never close to being in the food supply. Literally, she was a needle in the haystack and the system worked, it found her. In addition to that, the meat processers have taken greater measures to make sure that none of the nervous system tissues ever make it into the product that might end up on consumer’s tables.
Am I worried about an outbreak of BSE? Again, I am sure measures have been taken to isolate the herd the cow came from and track any other cows that may have left the farm. However, this was an isolated case and the disease does appear spontaneously in some individuals (i.e. this cow). The only way the disease could be transmitted between the cows is if they ate nervous system tissues from infected cattle. Again measures have been taken to insure that no animal proteins are fed to cattle.
I know I am preaching to the choir, but this is an instance that the choir needs to be singing. World-wide, BSE has decreased to the point it is almost non-existence and in the U.S. it is extremely rare. Because it can happen spontaneously, we can never completely eliminate it. BSE is thought to be connected to a human disease but that is not proven. Our meat inspection and processing systems insure that even if BSE might be connected, it never comes close to ending up on consumer’s tables.
Then there is the issue of “pink slime”, a completely safe ground beef product that the media took exception to and shamed companies into not producing. This product was an affordable option for consumers. Never at any point was it proven to be any kind of a risk and no illnesses arose from anyone eating this product. The truth is that all hamburger is safe, no matter how it was processed.
So let’s go back to me feeding my family beef. I am very protective of my family’s health and I would never do anything that might include any kind of a health risk. The bottom line is that our food supply is the most inspected, tested and ultimately safe, food supply in the world. No if ands or buts, the food on the grocery store shelves is completely safe for your family to eat.
As a rancher, I am very proud of the meat I produce and I am no different than any of my fellow producers. We work diligently to raise healthy animals, caring for the nutritional, health and environmental needs each day for every animal. We would never put an animal of questionable health into the food supply, ever, period.
That is the message that should be carried by each of us who raise cattle. Farmers and ranchers are among the most trusted professionals and we are the perfect people to carry the banner of food safety for beef. I believe in the safety of the meat I place on the table for my family because I am a proud producer of the food we all eat.

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