Use of ‘downed animals’ in human food chain is questioned

In this age of mad cow disease and hoof and mouth disease, we have come to learn that practices in food animal production can result not only in cruel and inhumane treatment toward the animals, but also an increased risk of spreading disease to humans by allowing diseased animals in the human food chain.

Congress and the Food and Drug Administration are both currently considering legislation that would prohibit the use of "downed animals" in human food.

"Downed animals" refers to cows, pigs and other farm animals that are so sick or injured that they cannot stand, even to access food and water. Yet these animals are routinely dragged with chains or pushed with forklifts on their way to slaughter. Such animals are currently allowed in food production for human consumption.

According to Dr. Michael Greger, an expert in mad cow disease, there is evidence that downed cattle are suffering from a form of the disease and that excluding them from the human food supply is a critical step in protecting the public.

In raising awareness about this issue, I have found that many people in Monmouth County and in New Jersey agree. I encourage your readers to urge the FDA to grant petition 98P-0151/CP1 prohibiting the slaughter of downed animals for human food, and to urge their congressmen to enact legislation to prohibit the marketing of downed animals. For more information, please see the Web site www.nodowners.org.

Wendy Pollack

Marlboro