New ag rule closing downer cow slaughter exception
By ERICA WERNER – 9 hours ago
WASHINGTON (AP) — Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer announced Tuesday a total ban on meat plant slaughter of cows too sick or weak to stand.
The planned change comes in the wake of the nation's largest beef recall. It would shut down an exception — which critics call a loophole — that allows a small number of so-called "downer" cattle into the food supply if they pass veterinary inspection.
Downer cows pose increased risk for mad cow disease and other infections, partly because they typically wallow in feces. They are already mostly banned from slaughter, but under current rules can be allowed in if they fall down after passing an initial veterinary inspection, and then are re-inspected and pass that second inspection, too.
Democratic lawmakers and the Humane Society of the United States have lobbied Schafer to eliminate that exception, and the meat and dairy industry last month reversed its opposition and endorsed the change too. Read More
Whether the animal was considered a downer due to disease or an injury, the elimination of any possibility that these animals could enter the food supply will be a good thing for the industry. Public health was not the reason for this change, it was changed to show the public how committed our industry is to supplying the safest food supply in the world. Perception is reality in today’s media environment and our industry will be better off with today’s rule change.