This letter to the editor appears online only and not in the Tucson Citizen’s print edition.
Downed cattle in food chain endangers humans
Shortly after the announcement that a downed cow in Washington state was diagnosed with mad cow disease, the U.S. Department of Agriculture implemented a policy prohibiting the use of downed cattle in human food.
The policy was widely endorsed by consumer protection groups, animal welfare organizations and even the cattle industry.
Downed animals are those too sick, diseased or weak to stand on their own. They are more likely to carry diseases and be contaminated with bacteria that may be harmful to humans.
They are also more likely to suffer mad cow disease.
It is not possible to move downed animals humanely, and they are often dragged with chains or pushed with forklifts.
Such cruel handling results in injuries ranging from bruises and abrasions to broken bones and torn ligaments.
Now new Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns is considering allowing downed cattle back into the human food chain! This action would jeopardize the safety of our food and the health of consumers, and Mr. Johanns is showing a complete disregard for animal welfare.